[-empyre-] JORG IMMENDORFF (1945-2007): THE SOCIETY OF DEFICIENCY:

Scott Taylor fst44 at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 31 10:18:42 EST 2011




RE: JORG IMMENDORFF
(1945-2007): THE SOCIETY OF DEFICIENCY:



Thank you all, patient readers, dear colleagues, for plowing through my rather
negative riff the other day.  I am just as disconcerted as many that the
complexities of our age defy easy percepts, concepts or articulation.  In
no way do I want to be construed as just another contemporary nihilist ready to
abandon humanity as expressed in either organic or inorganic forms.  



It is humbling to remember that all of us are living beings utilizing the
combined structural agencies of bacterial forces, for we are all 90% bacterial
when it comes down to ¡°top down¡± and ¡°bottom up.¡± And as for knowing any
process or protocol, any cause and effect for coordinating and organizing our
own personal bacterial phage through the current digital straits, I trust in
the powers that be.  



For the living, realizing one¡¯s bacterial make-up is an advantage over the
living dead who tend to think of themselves as organized hierarchies and
embedded hierarchies of the atomic alone (as in ¡°Atomists¡±).  We have come
a long way from the ancients.  We now realize that so-called
neuro-plasticity, or the ability of our neurological systemics to change functional
operations throughout life, and epigenetics, or the fact that the experience of
our ancestors is still actively involved and present within our corpus, and,
finally, that there is actually the general movement of all variety of human
cells throughout the human body, as required, and blood-flow is just one of the
most highly visible of such corporate corporeal dynamics.  



When I said, perhaps over-pessimistically, that there was no longer anything
that could be considered a ¡°culture¡± in traditional terms, in the terms, say,
that our agrarian ancestors might have thought about culture, I was thinking
that the instantism of techno-culture (and the anti-causality of instant-replay
as exacted in a perpetual pathological ¡°echolalia¡± of the human spirit in its
new environmental ambiance, ambivalence and ambiguity: the internet), was sort
of like a ¡°plasma¡± or a ¡°phage¡± when it comes to any sort of imaginative
realism. 

 

I remember too when the great sociologists of the 19th-century
attempted to define and describe their age, that is, the age of positivist
mechanical materialism, industrial revolution, chemical revolution, and the
electrical hardwiring involved.  Emile Durkheim¡¯s most famous term is
¡°anomie¡± or ¡°without law¡±; and his idea or conception of his society was as a
segmented society unified by the constraints of mechanical solidarity. 
Perhaps, in comparison, our global community is a society addicted to the
electronically, digitally-sundered instant as a fetish or false metonymic, and
the belief that our community is supposedly unified by, say, the constraints of
digital action-at-a-distance (think: Arab spring; think: Tea Party; think: global
sit in).   One begins to ask, how much can we randomize the time-space
continuum before statistical probability and possibility and pattern are no
longer functions which can be tabulated on behalf of any worthwhile calculus et cetera? -- Unreal statistics.  Unreal probabilities.  Unreal possibilities.  Unreal reality without any spiritual gist at
all. 

  

Then I remember Karl Weber¡¯s 19th-century anti-positivism, as
perhaps he illustrated in the following quotation: ¡°The fate of our times is
characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the
¡®disenchantment of the world¡¯.¡±  That is, the decline in the beliefs of
magic; AND, more to the point, the decline in approximating meaningful value
through ¡°magical thinking¡± which involves all cognitive forms of language
phenomenology (simile, analogy, metaphor, metonymy), and, therefore, all human
belief systems, as well, as logical articulation, individual and group.  

In short, as far as Weber was
concerned everything known prior to the development of modern science could be
considered and was now popularly considered ¡°mythic." Anyone who practiced
traditional forms of cognition, Weber termed a ¡°mystagoge.¡±  That is how
far ahead he was in terms regarding our own experiencing and patterning of time
and space.  And I am thinking of such patterning as co-ordinations,
orchestrations and choreographies which provide further insight into the musical
accord and entrainment of our perceptions. 

 

In short, then, with the rise of empirical science, all human lexicons (simile,
analogies, metaphors, metonymies) became anomic (lawless) and mystagogic
(related to false belief).  All human behavioral decision-making and
psycho-physiological behavior became not only suspect (relative to the nature
of Physics; it was an aberration of Physics), but illusory and
delusional.  

Cornelius Castoriadis, who
wrote on Weber, attempted to formulate psychological, physiological,
sociological, political and economic theories based upon new ideas of what
constituted a contemporary (twentieth-century) democracy.  A main
collection of his essays (which I recommend, which are, however, not for the
faint-hearted or simple-minded) is The Imaginary Institution of Society. 
In ¡°Figures of the Thinkable including Passion and Knowledge¡±, a collection of
later essays, Castoriadis writes about the  ¡°capitalist imaginary¡± and the ¡°creative
imaginary¡±:



¡°I think that we are at a crossing in the roads of history, history in the
grand sense. One road already appears clearly laid out, at least in its general
orientation. That's the road of the loss of meaning, of the repetition of empty
forms, of conformism, apathy, irresponsibility, and cynicism at the same time
as it is that of the tightening grip of the capitalist imaginary of unlimited
expansion of "rational mastery," pseudorational pseudomastery, of an
unlimited expansion of consumption for the sake of consumption, that is to say,
for nothing, and of a technoscience that has become autonomized along its path
and that is evidently involved in the domination of this capitalist imaginary.
/ The other road should be opened: it is not at all laid out. It can be opened
only through a social and political awakening, a resurgence of the project of
individual and collective autonomy, that is to say, of the will to freedom.
This would require an awakening of the imagination and of the creative
imaginary.¡±



But this incisive collection of essays simply raises in the mind the
supposition that perhaps we have entered a decontextualized-context, an
anti-bacterial-bactierial phage, a digital static without reference to time
and/or space, which is, quite literally, actually and phenomenologically
¡°unthinkable.¡±  What, then, would be an imagination of the
unthinkable?  And I am not jumping into any Halloween fire-storm of alien
zombies in nano-fields of pan-meta-para-abnormal/normal, non-crystal,
non-liquid, non-gas, anti-matter wrapped up in dark matter and black matter and
worn in the fashionable tradition of a Mad Hatter intent upon jumping into the
void.  Oh no.  I am saying, what if we are not at the end of the
world, but at the end of all of our organic traditions honoring hallowed
imagination?  And what is our thought if it cannot be imagined?  What if our own behavior cannot be believed?

  

These questions are further complicated by the theories of the Physicist Julian
Barbour, as put forward in The End of Time.  Barbour¡¯s general
argument is that the mathematics of Einstein, et al., balance a general
field theory when any notion or agency of time is subtracted from the
equation.  Whether or not this is the case ¨C and I am no Physicist ¨C his suggestion
is apt for his ¡°times.¡±  From Art by Subtraction to the Universe by
Subtraction. 



So how have artistic aestheticians trying to come to terms with such
suggestions?  [See Bernard Bel re: ¡°Concepts of Time in the Contemporary
Performing Arts¡±: http://aune.lpl.univ-aix.fr/~belbernard/music/timeperf.htm
.]  How have I been trying to come to
terms?  Well, recently, I became
interested in the percepts and concepts of the late German painter Jorg
Immendorff.  What he said about ¡°neo-expressionism¡± is telling regarding
what might be said about global synchronistic and asynchronistic real-time
choreographies, statistical and otherwise.  He wrote [emphasis added]:

 

¡°The term neo-expressionism is just as misleading as Neue Wilde.  We were
neither expressionists nor wild young artists.  We have to try to get at
the philosophy behind the paintings.  I am as hungry for the meaning of
painting as ever.  What does art mean?  What is the role of the
artist in society?  I still want to bring into focus the last two
vibrant decades of the twentieth century and all they meant.  But that
will take time, because, in the end, the life force of art knows nothing of
normal time.  It makes itself known irregularly, affecting both our
understanding of the past and our ability to cope with the future.  What
we really need is another concept of time in order to grasp the essentials of
art.¡± (J. Immendorff in conversation with P. Kort ¡®Jorg Immendorff talks to
Pamela Kort, ¡°80s Then ¨CInterview¡¯ in Art Forum, March, 2003.)

Immendorff painted a canvas in 1998 which he called
¡°Society of Deficiency,¡± and while the painting is competent, I find that the
artist¡¯s ideas behind it are much more interesting.  It seems to me that
we can talk about such a society in the context of my original post (SPEED UP
LEADS TO SLOW DOWN AS IN GRID-LOCK:  HYPER [wave] LEADS TO HYPO
[particle]:  THESE ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE BUT MUTUALLY INCLUSIVE
ASPECTS OF TIME, SPACE, MASS AND WEIGHT [inertia]).  

 

McLuhan was generally of the opinion that any distortion
of the common sense everyday scale of awareness constituted an
¡°anti-environmental¡± form of art -- hence, bigger than, smaller than, faster
than, slower than, et cetera, all
constituted significant artistic forms.  He thought somewhat after that
dreadful 18th and 19th-century thinker, Jeremy Bentham
(of ¡°panopticon¡± fame), that is, in terms of a so call ¡°hedonic
calculus.¡±  [See: http://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/calculus.html
].  McLuhan thought that such a calculus might be devised for each and
every culture or common group in terms of individual senses and mixes of
sensations, which, he thought, along with Edward T. Hall and Ted Carpenter,
might form the basis of a more in-depth epistemology when it came to what are
now called ¡°Cultural Studies.¡±  The problem with our contemporary digital
and other plasma or phage is that we have lost all sense of an indigenous
sensibility when it comes to perception, conception and communication. 
That is, there are no more traditions (I am not discussing so called
"fundamental-isms").  Even highly, acutely realized and taught
indigenous forms of culture (like, say, Tibetan Buddhism at its ethnographic
and anthropological core) have been transformed, transmogrified, transduced, et
cetera, et cetera, beyond anything of solid reference or
signification.  

 

Things have sped up, if you like, to such a degree that
even so-called ¡°human aging¡± (moving forward in a linear time and space) is
beginning to be thought of as a traditional norm, a past-time, which is not
relevant to ¡°contemporary¡± political-economic empiricism and multi-national
imperialism.  Oh no, one can be trained not to age, as long as he, she or
it, whether organic or cyborg and beyond, is helped through the training
process by adjuncts to ¡°contemporary¡± political-economic empiricism and
multi-national imperialism.  Read anything by Ray Kurzweil:  this will
initiate you into the sixth-degree of separation in his small-worlds node of
¡°accelerating intelligence.¡±  

 

The word intelligence includes Indo-European etymological
roots which mean ¡°to perceive¡± and ¡°to choose.¡±  But there are limits to
how quickly an individual can perceive and no clear psycho-physiological
philosophy, really, about how quickly one can choose, in the broader more
substantial sense of what choosing might include.  The history of the
verbal notions of perception tend to regard perception as an ordering, and not
so much in terms of hierarchical power, but in terms of experiential patterns
of behavior and bias right down to epigenetic connotations.  In short,
there is no such thing or no means currently available, or will perhaps ever be
available, for speeding up decision-making processes, especially when all
causal orientation and environmental orientation is being absolved, dissolved,
resolved, have it how you may. That is, we are moving in a
decontextualized/context where decisions themselves are irrelevant. 

 

Moreover, each individual¡¯s consciousness et al.
moves at that individual¡¯s speed of intellection.  It is a ¡°default¡± kind
of speed.  While it is evident that the
individual ¡°learns,¡± it is not at all clear how, why or what an individual
learns, the skills involved, or the mnemonic and memorial processes
inculcated.  People who tend to think together in similar cycles (or
whatever) tend to entrain one-another into something which can be called a sort
of understanding or comprehension.  Studies indicate that such entrainment
is very complex and that when it comes right down to it the very idea of
agreement, consensus, status quo, et cetera, is itself a
confabulation, that is, it is made up, it is imaginary.  

 

What is behind it is mimesis or the ability of
members of a particular species to imitate the actions of their fellows. 
It might be said that error, the bad, the immoral, the wrong-headed, the
destructive, can all be consigned to the failure to imitate properly. 
But, the failure to imitate can also constitute what we consider to be the
creative, the imaginative and the revolutionary in the most ethical and
optimistic of terms.  The tension here might be seen to be between how
much an individual or social group is capable of imitating not only their
community but greater environment, and how much an individual or social group
cannot.  When we imitate our technologies (extensions or not), we become
more technological.  We become autist-like or social autists.  Social
media is the groupthink, groupspeak, statistical communication of social
autists, or what group communication becomes when it is digital.   

 

When categories of what constitutes the environmental are
experientially dissociated without habitual association and synthesis, then we
can begin to talk about Koyaanisqatsi, life out of balance, as in the
film of the same name.  Notable here is that the 1982 film was shot
primarily in slow-motion or time-lapse, and accompanied by the repetitive
minimalism of Philip Glass.  I would think that a choreographic tribute to
the passing of organic growth might consist of a number of dancers all moving
at different tempos, live dancers interspersed with digital et cetera,
might suggest something of a new human carnival of animals.  Some would be
equipped with digital feedback mechanisms; some would be ¡°disempowered¡± or
¡°deficient.¡±  The back-drop(s) to this might be multi-media, and present
slow-motion, time-lapse, and all the other nomenclatures of the technical
digitalization of things.  This might look something like Immendorff's
painting ¡°Caf¨¦ Deutschland: Contemplating the Question ¨C Where do I stand?¡± 

 

This would be, nevertheless, an insufficient model of the
m¨¦lange of our instant milieu.  All models we might suggest, of course,
have been broken. We all just seem to be looking for a better technological
model which can make obsolete or redundant all models before it in a planned
obsolesces of modeling.  (Have a look at ¡°liquid
architecture¡± if you want to see what I mean, not to decray ¡°liquid
architecture¡± which is truly fantastic, as in phantasms made concrete.) 
Some have abandoned the wisdom of the ages, the mythology of progress, the
mythology of mythology, and the idea that we can parse out our moons to a
better accommodation.  

 

We are acting as if the daily turning of the global axis,
the monthly cycles of the moon, and the traversing of the galactic in a dance
around the Pleiades and beyond, isn¡¯t enough to certify our common place and
accommodation.  We are acting as if our heart isn¡¯t enough, and the diamond
body of the now that is channeled through it, from here to the ends of the
universe.  This wrong-headed action which seeks to imitate what cannot be
imitated in terms of the time-space continuum of a human ¡°life-time¡± is not
imaginative.  It is ¡°deficient¡±.  It is, ipso facto,
¡°defunct.¡±  

 

So ¨C and some of you may laugh out loud because of or
despite compassion, empathy, sentiment, nostalgia, idealism, romanticism,
altruism and dreams ¨C what I would propose to Jorg Immendorff, the German
artist of ¡°Society of Deficiency¡± and ¡°Caf¨¦ Deutschland: Contemplating the
Question ¨C Where do I stand?¡± (1987). [See: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/immendorff_Society_of_Deficiency.htm
and http://www.artnewsblog.com/2007/05/german-artist-jorg-immendorff-dies-at.htm
]  I would simply suggest that, where time once stood, we place our
hearts.  

 

What does that mean in practical, pragmatic terms? 
Meditate on universal compassion and unconditional love until the
mind-brain-body is dancing in a gamma-rhythm and rejoice?  Corny? 
You bet.  Maybe?  And "love?"  Is it a power field
beyond imagination which, as Dante said, moves the sun and other stars? 
When one dances in love to love with love what does one do?  Ask
Shiva.  And, perhaps, before or afterward, check out   Shiva
Nata: http://shivanata.com/ 

 

Whatever, I am reminded here, too, of Anna Ahkamatova¡¯s "This Cruel Age has deflected me..." (1944)
(Translated in Poems of Akhmatova (1973) by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward) for we are all
deflected in this cruel age, planet wide, and wonder how far and how fast we
swerve:

 

The grave I go to will not be my own.

 

This
cruel age has deflected me,

like a river from this course.

Strayed from its familiar shores,

my changeling life has flowed

into a sister channel.

How many spectacles I've missed:

the curtain rising without me,

and falling too. How many friends.

I
never had the chance to meet.

I
know beginnings, I know endings too,

and life-in-death, and something else

I'd rather not recall just now.

The
grave I go to will not be my own.

But if I could step outside myself

and contemplate the person that I am,

I should know at last what envy is.

Envy.  "§Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ã§ä§î"  Russians (and other Slavs) speak of
two kinds of §Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ã§ä§î (envy or jealousy): §é§Ö§â§ß§Ñ§ñ (black) and §Ò§Ö§Ý§Ñ§ñ (white)
§Ù§Ñ§Ó§Ú§ã§ä§î. Black envy is the kind that¡¯s possessive and destructive, while white
envy is the kind that makes you go out and get a higher-paying job.  In Akhamatova¡¯s use here the word is
ambiguous and leads to poetic speculations well beyond any time-honored poetic
justice.  That is Akhamatova¡¯s
point.  That is what deflection
does.  It removes you from knowing the
good or bad of anything which can be imitated: danced in time together in any
kind of bonded fashion, in any kind of love or power field of communicated
love.  

 

Anyway, I¡¯ve talked long and hard despite having,
perhaps, little to say.  One becomes like Beckett in terms of simply going
a little way further down the same long old road.  It is so hard to tell
myself let alone anyone else what I or they don¡¯t already know.  I haven¡¯t
managed to read all that you have written, and I apologize, especially since
this life of mine (in its deflection) may not allow me to become as familiar as
I would like to be.  However, from what I have read, I have taken great
pleasure.  And great heart.  This is a most auspicious catalog of commentaries. 
We all must continue to think of how we can put on the brakes despite sliding
over all the black ice.   

 		 	   		  
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