Wednesday, January 24, 2007

John and Marx talk about art

The idea of art as the mark of “civilization” inasmuch as it arrives out of leisure, the ability to be capable to produce all which one needs without expending all of one’s energy, relies on a class-based subordination of all necessary labor, and either issues from or begets an existential neurosis wherein the dominant class effectively denies the very necessities of living and expects to receive the necessities of life, the fetishized items of an apparitional commodity world.

This reminds me of a passage in Agamben about the eccentricizing of the artist type and how this enforced distance allows people to live in the presence of art without feeling any necessity or responsibility to create it themselves.

2 comments:

John A. Atchley III said...

What's interesting though is that most Marxists I've read and pretended to understand locate art, or the impulse towards art, within the suboordinated classes you speak of, and reserve their criticism for the structures in capitalism that allow the elite, leisure class to prey upon these creations by investing them with commodity value. What I mean to say, is that bourgeois culture is parasitic in this sense, devouring the art-borne-from-anomie of the revolutionary/working class, a relationship that becomes all the more psychopathological when anomie itself obtains commodity value. Perhaps a trip to highschool and Dashboard Confessional is explanation enough.

John M. said...

Hey. Lay off Dashboard.
I kid, they suck.
But I agree. I wasn't trying to locate the artistic impulse within the subaltern--bourgeois sensibilities would have very little to do with that--it's that those same who gave art its power by bestowing it with autonomy (the romantic revolution being run by, however crude the generalization, the first definable bourgeoisie's rich offspring) kill it by a total blindness to their strategies, and simply make it alterior to themselves. Art is, to our power-glutted society, something ultimately valuable that other people ultimately end up doing.
Which is why we have Dashboard.
And it's not like the poor are making any more art than the rich--I'm not going that route--it's that there's a difficulty for it to get off the ground as it gets gobbled up so quickly and never made. Of course, I did almost say "produced" instead of "made," so there's the other problem... I guess that's why people tried meta-art?
I'm like sixty years behind here.