[-empyre-] From Randall
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Wed Oct 4 23:31:10 AEDT 2017
I am posting this for Randall, while we try and sort why his emails aren't
Hello all. I am looking forward to speaking with, and alongside, everyone.
I hope to think a bit about each of the separate concepts in this week's
title: Radical Aesthetics, EcoAesthetic Systems and Entanglements. This
message will focus on the first concept with the other concepts to follow
unless the conversation takes us elsewhere!
Radical is not a word I have much to do with, except in its Latinate origin
(having roots). So, I take it quite literally when asked to think about
radical aesthetics. But it might better capture my sense of things to say
"radicle aesthetics." In contemporary art, what passes for "radical" is too
often built on sand, not soil and thus is not amenable to truly radical
In introducing me, Margaretha mentioned another particular word usage that
I have found useful - terroir. That is a term many of you may recognize
from wine making, which refers to the total environmental influence on
multiple facets of a wine's characteristics. I take up the term as a
political stance, as a terroirist. In the Capitalocene, I would argue that
to embrace locality and to reject the cosmopolitan art system (or the
broader global habitus for meaning making) makes one subject to accusations
that make such a term resonate with its obvious (near) homophone. I would
further argue that just as we live in specific watersheds, and foodsheds,
we also live in specific noösheds. This fact, necessitates a radicle
(radical) re-thinking of aesthetics.
Thus, Liberalism’s (or "art making wholly tied to neoliberalism" as
mentioned in the intro) obsession with institutionalizing, economizing, and
professionalizing every sphere of human endeavor leaves us out of love’s
reach. We need human scale, affectionate practices that generate
enchantment, and numinous experience.The liberal project is a dead end (or
Ronald Osborn (quoting Wendell Berry):
“Our politics and science have never mastered the fact that people need
more than to **understand** their obligation to one another and the earth;
they need also the **feeling** of such obligation, and the feeling can come
only within the patterns of familiarity.”
The affection and skill necessary to prevent the depletion of top-soil, for
example, only arises through intimate knowledge of and devotion to a
concrete locality and its supporting natural and human relationships. There
simply are no technical or global solutions to the crisis of soil loss
brought on by extractive chemical and machine-based farming methods. What
are needed are cultural solutions that take diverse local forms and emerge
as a deeply rooted and affectionate responsiveness to place.
“When one works beyond the reach of one’s love for the place one is working
in and for the things and creatures one is working with and among, then
destruction inevitably results,” Berry writes. “An adequate local culture,
among other things, keeps work within the reach of love.”
Attempts at definition:
noöshed - an area of land in which ideas are formed and (eventually)
collect into larger flows of ideas forming yet larger noösheds.
terroirist - proponent and defender of one's noöshed, but also an advocate
for reinhabitation of one's place, resisting globalization.
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