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April 10, 2007

Sigh… so I didn’t get to really conclude my last entry or even start it because I went and started talking to Andrea online, and that always involves a considerable expenditure of energy.  Another thing bothering me about her–that she couldn’t read that essay by Nagel (whom she called “Nargul”) because she couldn’t focus on what he was talking about and didn’t understand what his point was.  And then she wanted me to explain it to her (though I hadn’t read the reading yet).  Which is all fine.  I wouldn’t want to read something I didn’t understand.  It would be a big waste of time, I would get through the entire thing and not be any more enlightened than I was before it.  I would even go as far as to say, if you really don’t get it and don’t think that any amount of thought would allow you to get it, it would be downright stupid to just go ahead and waste your time with it anyway.  Yet it is this approach, an approach that Andrea and I apparently share, that is probably the number one thing that bothers Andrea about me.  The only difference is that I do it with regard to art.  Like that stupid piece of “art” in Kroeber that consisted of a glass box through which you could see a bunch of paint splotches and random wooden constructions that, quite frankly, didn’t resemble anything at all.  And hey, maybe there is some hidden meaning there that I can’t see; maybe it’s a very deep meaning.  But I can’t stand there and pretend I know what the artist was thinking when he threw on those paint splotches or stuck that weird metal thing into that piece of wood.  I simply accept that I will never know what the piece of art means short of actually taking the time to find the artist and asking him, and if I did that with every piece of art I didn’t understand, I really wouldn’t have a whole lot of time for much of anything else.

But it really bothered Andrea that I had nothing to say about this piece of artwork.  Her interpretation of it was “I accidentally exploded along the way, and I’m sorry,” which of course is not deep in any way, nor is it very likely to be what the author himself was thinking when he made it, both of which she freely acknowledged.  Yet I was still supposed to see something in it.  I mean, honestly–there isn’t even a guarantee that the artist really had anything in mind when he made that piece of artwork.  He could have just been piecing it together as randomly as it looked, and eventually decided it looked cool and called it art.  Then what on earth do we stand to gain from trying to project meaning onto something the artist himself didn’t create with any purpose in mind?  But apparently we stand to gain something, because that’s exactly Andrea’s approach to her own artwork.  Don’t get me wrong–Andrea is very good at drawing.  But art?  Not unless you call doodling art, because Andrea’s drawings are merely an extremely sophisticated form of doodling.  That is to say, she has no idea what she’s making as she begins to make it–which she freely acknowledges–but then as it starts to become more detailed, she realizes that it looks like something, and then fills in the final details to fit that theme.  And then she shows whatever crazy design she’s invented to me and expects me to be able to tell her what it is, when she didn’t even know what it was when she was making most of it. 

I think Andrea must think I’m some sort of elitist or something, for having such limited views on art.  But I’d like to assert something I’ve heard from someone who was, in fact, an artist–true artists must necessarily be elitists.  If you just expand art to fit everything that Andrea calls art, even if it’s just totally random, then art isn’t a matter of the artist’s intent at all; it is purely up to the observer what art is.  In that case, there is nothing to distinguish a real artist’s work and some piece of dog shit on the ground–they’re both art to someone, right?  But a real artist knows that good art isn’t just about being able to interpret something any old damn way you like.  There can be multiple interpretations sure, but those have to be within reasonable limits.  You can say a piece of literature is about the essence of humanity or the eternal forces of causation that result in what we call humanity, but you can’t say that piece of literature is about the best way to eat cheese.  In short, you have to have a certain amount of evidence.  You have to be able to prove, at least to a reasonable degree, or at the very least make what sounds like a plausible argument–that this piece of art is meant to show this specific thing, and nothing else.  Maybe it doesn’t make sense to take such a scientific approach to art, but that is what we necessarily must do to prevent art from descending into chaos, exposed to the vultures that would tear it apart.

And here she didn’t even have the will to tackle an essay, which we know to have a purpose or point by the very nature of an essay, because she didn’t get it.  Well, do what you always do when you don’t understand something, Andrea–make shit up and pretend like you do!  What’s so hard about that?


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