The art object is an object whose objecthood claims an essence. All objects have an essence–no doubt about that–but an art object is one that knows its essence cannot be known. The art object always has another object in mind, unknowable; that is its essence. The art object is never itself, and although this is not a unique feature, the art object says it is not itself. An apple cannot say it is not itself. The art object points in many directions, the more the more successful the art object, although it does not point in all directions.
The art object does have an aim, its directions pulled magnetically toward it. This is what the critic and the art historian try to describe, although they usually just mistake their own direction with the aim of whatever particular art object happens under their gaze.
The artist does not need to be aware of the aim of her art object; history tells us this has never been the case anyway. She merely has some vague, inaccurate conception of what could possible be. Her art object is always virtual, even when it is “finished”. She always nags at herself about how she could have finished it.
For us, it is complete. The art object could never have been anything but what it is, staring back at us like death. We are so curious.
I catch myself all the time placing the race of my subject as a predicate unless he is white. My whole life has naturalized the assumption in my common sense, but over the last few years I have actively sought to say “white” when his or her race is white in my speech. It’s been hard, and embarrassing, not so much from the reaction of others, the same assumption being alive and well in them too; no, my self-awareness does this for them, as I trip over my words and go back to explain the other guy is white in the story. This can be a powerful device for disciplining normalcy, and not a bad thing on its own, but I suppose a subject has to have a certain openness to self-criticism in the first place. I guess I have that a little; it’s incredibly uncomfortable and wholly undesirable. I’m doing a mediocre job anyway. At any rate the same mechanism inverted is already present in our minds–consumption rather than self-criticism being the target.
This already feels like a self-pat on the back.
I want maple floors.
This Thanksgiving I was in the bathroom during our family’s round robin giving of individual thanks to whatever. I find it hard to give thanks to much of late, as everything I have seems tainted by exploitation or meaninglessness. Everything I read tells me “just how bad it is.” We might go to war. Climate change is… out of control, likely to remain in that state effectively forever. Technology only accelerates its development with little collective knowledge of who controls it.
Things are open, though. The backlash against Trump’s figure is a good sign, although I think we focus too much on him as a person.
But perhaps now is not the time to be thanking anyone for anything, certainly not the current hand that feeds. Perhaps now the time is precisely for something everybody wants to avoid: anger. We should be angry; we have every right. Late night and comedy talk show hosts, mostly with liberal sensibilities, condemn violence of any kind. I suppose they’re right. Although I’d find it hard to condemn a woman for stealing through force to feed herself. Many United States citizens are this desperate.
What about destruction of property? Government property? Sure, I guess these kinds of acts should be condemned outright, only I guess I am not so sure. Violence to bodies, individuals, is something different. How much property do the wealthy need to consolidate before its destruction becomes the symbolic avalanche of revolution? Who believes anymore that a democratic solution is on the horizon?
It is obvious why Nazis crawl out from under their rocks, spreading cultural rot wherever they go. They have to be empowered. At first I believed, as many do, that the politics of identity have allowed people who spread “intolerance” to use it against those who fight it, by claiming intolerant speech needs to be tolerated like all other forms of free speech, but that opening was always been there in the 1st amendment. A Nazi has always been able to do what he has now effectively naturalized in common sense and speech; i.e. there’s nothing new about the 1st amendment. Thus, I feel safe to conclude that it is not simply the ability of one to exercise the 1st amendment in such a way, but Donald Trump’s empowerment of those who would that has changed the mainstream landscape.
Donald Trump’s buffoonery, and I specifically reference here his use of language, combines with the fact he really is dangerous to produce an ideal candidate for those eager to project their violent fantasies onto a figure. These white men, filled with resentment towards the recent movement in the country towards greater social permissiveness and their dwindling economic foothold, make easy targets for the republican party, now willing to do anything to remain in power. To be clear, I’m saying racism is the problem. But I think it may be even worse. Losing power does something in a person worse than instilling desire to win.
Does it not seem as though things have moved beyond a zero-sum game? The ethos of the republican party is no longer “I win, you lose”. It’s just “you lose,” and I don’t care what happens to me. Cynicism, the defacto model of the republican party, means you don’t believe in what you say. The problem is that if their paradigm wins through, reality will soon puncture it with a vengeance, and we’ll all be screwed.
Repeating, imaginatively, the same horrible fantasy can be therapeutic; Freud taught as that. Although it seems as though right now our collective fantasy only pushes us closer to a complete undoing of our humanity. Fantasies have material effects. This thought occurred to me as, in my typical distracted state of mind–really how can we be anything but nowadays–a Dodge commercial laid its hooks in my mind. This particular advertisement actually contained a deeper, ideological one, although deeper is perhaps not the right word; it’s obvious what the producers had in mind. I tried to find it on YouTube unsuccessfully, so you, dear reader, will just have to trust my memory.
The commercial features all the V8 beasts charging through some desert, Utah we’ll say, at frightening speeds. The engines emit ungodly engine sounds, the rapid internal explosions rising together in a chorus of roaring American Thunder. But what really caught today’s ethos for me was when the camera shot cut to the drivers of, I think, the Charger. Anyways that detail doesn’t matter. The dress of the drivers was unmistakably from the roaring 20s!, a time when excess seemed as though it might grow into infinity. We all know how that belief turned against us, and WAR was the only thing that raised our country from economic nuclear winter (an apt metaphor considering our heinous acts of dropping nuclear weapons on Japan AFTER fire bombing like 250,000 civilians).
It is as if we want to destroy ourselves. Rest assured our president will most certainly take us into WWIII.