Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tuesday February 21, 2006

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:00 PM
Conceptual Lens

“Contemporary literary theory did not emerge in an intellectual and cultural vacuum. The subordination of art to argument and ideas has been a long time in the works. In The Painted Word, a rumination on the state of American painting in the 1970s, Tom Wolfe described an epiphany he had one Sunday morning while reading an article in the New York Times on an exhibit at Yale University. To appreciate contemporary art– the paintings of Jackson Pollock and still more so his followers– which to the naked eye appeared indistinguishable from kindergarten splatterings and which provided little immediate pleasure or illumination, it was ‘crucial,’ Wolfe realized, to have a ‘persuasive theory,’ a prefabricated conceptual lens to make sense of the work and bring into focus the artist’s point. From there it was just a short step to the belief that the critic who supplies the theories is the equal, if not the superior, of the artist who creates the painting.”

Peter Berkowitz, “Literature in Theory”

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Cover art by Rea Irvin

On this date in 1925,
The New Yorker
first appeared.

Related material:

Aldous Huxley on
The Perennial Philosophy
(ART WARS, March 13, 2003)
and William James on religion:

“James points out that… a mystical experience displays the world through a different lens than is present in ordinary experience. The experience, in his words, is ‘ineffable’….”

For an experience that is
perhaps more effable,
see the oeuvre of
 Jill St. John.

Related material:

A drama for Mardi Gras,
The Crimson Passion,
and (postscript of 2:56 PM)
today’s Harvard Crimson
(pdf, 843k)

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