[-empyre-] art and ethics - incommensurables
swht at clear.net.nz
Sun Jan 31 08:13:33 EST 2010
Dear Empyreans... apologies for re-posting, it appears this was held up
at customs ... and habits...
In order to toe the party line, we must know where the party line is.
The Law is somewhat different, as we have it from Kafka. Life is too
short to know what the party line is in democratic countries, given the
way it squiggles, given the oscillation of parties. Complicity does
become a game, as Gerry says. Of endless deferral, or the indefinite
postponement of punishment. There is no acquittal.
A recent commentator on Kant has asserted that the object of aesthetics
is not the study of what is aesthetic. So the problem is not art's
complicity with the real but its complicity with art, in the same sense
of having been put outside itself, objectified in discourse, and, of
course, commerce, while endorsed as a subjective universal in practice.
The question might be: how can we improve our complicity? make it
better? enjoy it?
Nick used the word 'injustice' - as in, It is necessary to respond to
injustice, in the naturalized scenario of art-life. Thinking of the
instance to which I alluded earlier, wherein artists were co-opted,
flattered into - amour propre, and responded - from pusillanimity, in an
action destructive both for theatre as industry and as artform, another
word occurs to me: anathema. Perhaps it is not the right word, but it
does suggest that the choice was absolute and the situation historically
The choice was, as I've indicated, not so much one in which we would
have been consoled - in our minimalizing complicity - by philosophy, as
one which we would have been exhorted by philosophy to take to the
limit, maximally, infinitely, where the ethical choice left common sense
behind. Now we are will-he nil-he mingling good and evil and partaking
of each in good measure, in the spirit of good sense, in the spirit of
democracy. And democracy is seen to arise, like Elvis's twin Jesse, from
the spectral twilight or twinned lights, to tower again, as if history
had never ended to begin with: I mean, it is not seen to, since it has
passed over a certain threshold, wherein all things, even good and evil,
can be held in good measure; what is otherwise referred to as the status
Can art provide a critique of democracy as it is being asked to do of
Enjoy your complicity,
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