September 19, 2003

Thanks Aaron

I wrote Aaron a thank you note for the Relyea and I wanted to share the wealth.

(...and the picture above isn't Aaron, it's Maurice G. Dantec, as you will read of presently...)


That was great! Thanks for the X-tra. Lane's article made me want to renew my subscription.

I concur with most or all of it. (I'm trying to understate here, trying not to gush.)

There's a website I linked to the surfers recently that echoed Lane's thinking:


"In Laboratoire de Catastrophe G?n?rale (general catastrophy laboratory), you're providing the reader with "a few basic rules concerning metastable mobile warfare and hypermobile tactics against the Matrix, the first draft of a comprehensive 'survival guide in ground zero'". What is the Matrix and how can you fight against it??
The Matrix is the contemporary post-modern "society", or rather let's say its media-cultural metamorphosis. It's a metaphor for the huge factory producing nihilistic viewpoints that have become fully objectified, in which we are living, it seems. Of course that was a reference to Gibson. I was trying to show how the "network" and its possible future developments were also a metaphor come true. The nihilism-producing machine has turned into an objectified nothingness that creates machines - by machines I mean human beings, human beings who are slaves to themselves - in a vast and reticulated "self-regulating system". How to fight against it?? This question comes back to me each time I write. I only have scraps of answers that I picked up from a short wave radio. I sometimes try to retranscribe them, as I did during the process of writing the two volumes of a journal I started for that purpose. That made a lot of people laugh in Paris, I believe."

What I didn't like about "Public Offerings" was it's thesis of the totalization of the artworld by the artsystem, that it itself is the entire subject and predicate of what art could be today. This is what I was uncomfortable about in school: if the art object dissipated into the context, what are we, who are we as artists? Lane suggests that now, all we can do is contemplate. I'm elated that he militates against it.

What the Maurice G. Dantec site seems to promise to me is a linkage to the idea of slavery I hazarded to you and others recently: When your happiness is dependent on the actions of another, you are their slave. Translating/transferring Owens: if the "...references became more interesting than the painting...", and interestingness can be equivalent to happiness, then the artist becomes a slave of the art system.

What Dantec seems to do too is sound like Smithson in his scat and dish of different interests scientific and cultural, and his willingness to make a hybrid of the analytical and the imaginative. He's having fun. And he's making war too, on nihilism. It's a big topic that I've got a desperate grasp of it like a handful of tiger's mane... but there's something about how morality comes from overarching connections, the wholeness and unity thing... this, from Lane:

"...To snap sensibility back into alert unison, one exercised judgment. Postmodernists, who borrowed from anthropology a view of culture as a structure of binary terms, sees an exactly opposite threat: the worst that could happen is that culture becomes too unified, implacable, unassailable, that there exists no loose joints in the meaning system, no slippage between signifiers and ideological signifieds. To sow fissures in such a system, one exercises ideological critique. Disunity threatens modernism, whereas unity is the threat perceived by postmodernism."

What I'm seeing is that Postmodernism succeeded too well, and not for its' own good, either. As a result, we became blind to nihilism, Dantec: 'The nihilism-producing machine has turned into an objectified nothingness that creates machines - by machines I mean human beings, human beings who are slaves to themselves - in a vast and reticulated "self-regulating system"' Am I dreaming when I see Lane saying the same thing, that we have become slaves to the art system?

Like the "Parallel Cities" idea of my early years, the solution isn't one or the other Mod/Pomo, it's finding a way for both. Suppleness.

I see so many connections, but I can articulate only so much. Thanks again for the Relyea.


Posted by Dennis at September 19, 2003 9:36 AM

Leave a comment