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Hegel's Conception of Art as the Ideal and the Historical Hegel's Conception of Art as the Ideal and the Historical
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2008-11-10 12:53:14
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“In art we have to do, not with any agreeable or useful child’s play, but with the liberation of the spirit from the content and forms of finitude, with the presence and reconciliation of the Absolute in what is apparent and viable, with an unfolding of the truth which is not exhausted in natural history but revealed in world history. Art itself is the most beautiful side of that history and it is the best compensation for hard work in the world and the bitter labor for knowledge.”

                                                                    --G.W.F.Hegel (from Lectures on Fine Arts)

Let us go on with the examination of Art through the eyes of great philosophers of Western Civilization. We have already briefly seen that for Aristotle, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche art depends on their general metaphysics. In other word, their conception of art is colored by their philosophy. This is even truer for G.W.F. Hegel for whom art is nothing less than one of the forms of absolute spirit, what he calls Geist, defined as the essence of the world.

In Hegel’s view the universe is a self-perpetuating, dynamic whole or spirit whose articulation follows a rational plan that is revealed in art, religion, and philosophy, the three aspects of absolute spirit. Spirit and not matter is primary despite Marx’s turning Hegel up-side-down. What’s different about art is that it remains tied to sensible form or the perceptible, particular work, while religion and philosophy have as their goal the articulation of truth in purely universal or general terms. Thus art is the Ideal. This is a term that for Hegel indicates the ineradicable presence of individuality and not the thorough-going universality of the Concept which is Hegel’s term for the fullest grasp of reality.

Most of Hegel’s reflections on art can be gathered in his Aesthetics, a compilation of students’ transcriptions and the master’s own lecture notes. What is striking about them is that they begin with an abstract description of a certain idea or concept to then go on to show in more detail to what that idea amounts to. The very first general claim is that art, as the Ideal, must be a totality. For Hegel, a totality is a particular type of whole, one in which each part reflects the nature of the whole. A thesis combined with an antithesis becomes a synthesis or a whole; that whole then becomes the thesis which meets another antithesis and becomes a bigger synthesis. So the original synthesis or whole reflects all the bigger synthesis that will inevitably follow; in the microcosm one can individuate the macrocosm. This is how Hegel attempts to describe the development of humankind’s history.

By analogy, in an organic whole such as the human body, the function of each part, such as seeing for the eye, can only be comprehended with reference to the totality. So, when Hegel claims that an art object is a totality, he is asserting that each of its elements must reflect the content of the entire work, thus conveying a sense of profound integration. Even a glimpse or a fragment of a great work ought to give an idea of the whole. This is literally true of the pre-Socratic fragments of philosophy. He then explores the implications of this view of art asserting that “inner” and “outer” need to be harmonized in a work of art. What does Hegel mean becomes clearer when Hegel uses this very claim to criticize all those conceptions of art, which date all the way back to Plato, that characterize art as imitative, and its truth as mere correctness and accuracy of representation. He rejects this formal conception of art. As far as he is concerned, art must have a content that is true. Not unlike Aristotle, art for Hegel functions to reveal metaphysical truth, hence his rejection of formalism in favor of a more substantive conception of art’s truth.

Hegel makes this claim even more precise when he discusses portraiture. He rejects the idea that a portrait ought to slavishly resemble its sitter’s appearance; rather, it should display the subject’s inner character through its depiction of external appearance. To do this requires that the painter idealize the sitter, ignoring idiosyncrasies of appearance the better to reveal essential character. Hegel even gives an example of successful portraiture: the Madonnas of Raphael.

Moreover, Hegel differentiates three distinct species of art. This typology is characteristic of the historicism of his general philosophy which is teleological, that is to say, aiming toward a final goal. Although it is developed as a set of logical distinctions within the concept of art itself, it simultaneously constitutes a sequence of historical types recapitulating art’s progress toward its own essence and the full manifestation of “Geist.” As already repeatedly pointed out in other articles, the problem with this conception of reality as progressive is that it assumes the determinism of progress; in other words, it assumes that what comes at the end of a process (its synthesis) is always for the better. That assumption has been disproved by the same events of history which have shown that regression is not only possible but remains a constant possibility as the underpinning of Man’s intrinsic freedom. The Holocaust of the 20th century is one poignant example of such disastrous regressive events of history.

Leaving that problematic aside for the moment, the first type of art is described as symbolic, by which Hegel means art that has not yet embodied that harmony of form and content that he has posited as its truth, for its content is too abstract. What he has in mind here are works from ancient Egypt (for example, the Sphinx) or India. He criticizes those works for depicting only an eternal and unchanging realm and thereby failing to represent the dynamic dialectical nature of reality. Architecture is the art form that, for Hegel, remains locked in this perspective.

The second type is classical art, the art of ancient Greece, which Hegel considers an advance over the symbolic because it contains a higher degree of individuality. This is typified by sculpture, but his paradigms of Greek art the Greek tragedies, especially those of Sophocles. He individuates two features of those tragedies which marks them as an advance in the development of art. The first is that the characters, although they remain types, have now become individualized. The second is that their stories reveal tensions inherent in the greater drama that is human history. This is similar to Vico’s conception of history as the story of humankind proceeding in cycles. For Hegel those tragedies are paradigms of art because their unity of form and content cannot be equaled. However, they too are not the culmination or the complete realization of the concept of art.

What fully realizes Hegel’s conception of art as the Ideal is romantic art. It embodies a more complete conception of subjectivity than do the two earlier forms. As such it alone is able to present through its images, a sensory version of metaphysical truth that all reality is spirit developing toward self-consciousness through human history. In other words, contrary to what the materialists and the Marxists assert, the evolution of the species is paradigmatic of this evolution of spirit. Spirit remains primary. One who develops this insight to its conclusion within the field of theology is Teilhard de Chardin in his The Phenomenon of Man. Hegel gives as an example of this third form of art Shakespeare’s plays which reveal more self-conscious and reflective characters such as Hamlet. Because of its presentation of inwardness, this type of art cannot be realized in three dimensions, but only in painting, music and literature.

Hegel’s teleological conception of art as historical process, developing into its true nature as the beautiful Ideal naturally gives rise to Hegel famous thesis of the death of art. There remains much scholarly disagreement as to what this assertion really means. Of one thing we can be sure: Hegel who admired ancient Greek culture and was a man of vast erudition certainly did not have in mind a great bonfire, real or metaphorical, on which to destroy what is by now superseded or as the French say passè, if for no other reason than for purely historical reasons. He would have been horrified at the cultural philistinism of the big bonfire of May 1942 conducted in Germany on which thousands of classical books were burned. That might even have led him to reconsider his whole philosophy of inevitable progress. What is clear, however, is that by the very logic of his philosophy Hegel, in his day (the days of romanticism) thinks that art has fulfilled its mission and should give way to philosophy. This may sound absurd to our ears but let us remember that in our own day, and against all expectations, we have an Arthur Danto who has given this improbable thesis of Hegel new life by contenting that contemporary modern art has indeed become philosophy. The flip side of that posture is that the jury may still be out on the intrinsic value of modern art. We shall return to this highly controversial thesis by Danto of art as philosophy.


   
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Sand2008-11-10 15:24:18
The height of audacity in serving up pure nonsense, in stringing together senseless and extravagant mazes of words, such as had been only previously known in madhouses, was finally reached in Hegel, and became the instrument of the most barefaced, general mystification that has ever taken place, with a result which will appear fabulous to posterity, as a monument to German stupidity.

– Arthur Schopenhauer, Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 16:23:31
Alexander Mikhaylov, to answer the pertinent question on the previous thread (the one about “idiots”), in the above comment you are served to an example of a “coded” message that has precious little to do with the search for truth, or the concern for the meaning of art, or with Schopenhauer’s critique of Hegel’s philosophy, for that matter. As McLuhan has well taught us, sometimes the message is not in the content but in the form or in the medium.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 17:01:06
P.S. Schopenhauer actually critiqued not only Hegel but also Fitche, his teacher, and Shelling. The dialogue among those four giants makes for some very interesting reading on its own and it is not to be confused with gossip as intellectual pigmies may tend to do deluding themselves that they are at a par with those giants. Nevertheless, there is a human anecdote of those relationships worth narrating. After a year in Italy and the the publication there of his famous book “The World of Will and Representation” Schopenhauer came to Berlin and applied for a lectureship at the university there in 1820. He was granted one. Two years earlier Hegel had arrived there and had become the most popular philosophy teacher on campus. Schopenhauer dared to schedule his class at the same time as Hegel’s class. He was only in his mid-twenties. Few students chose Schopenhauer over Hegel. This made Schopenhauer even more acerbic toward Hegel to the point of calling him a charlatan. To the best of our knowledge he never called him a jerk or a total asshole. He was too civilized to descend to that level. In any case, he left the University for Italy again only two years later. So, perhaps besides the philosophy itself, to be taken at face value, there is after all a secret “coded message” in Schopenhauer’s philosophy and it was based on the resentment and the jealousy he felt toward Hegel. Ah, the foibles of human nature. Even philosophers are not exempt from them. Kierkegaard too severely critiqued Hegel along the lines of the critique in the above article but living in another country and having no PC his critique never descended to the personal.


Sand2008-11-10 17:41:47
It's good to know that at least a few academics do not qualify as jerks or assholes. Others, of course, clearly do.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-10 18:47:34
'What is clear, however, is that by the very logic of his philosophy Hegel, in his day (the days of romanticism) thinks that art has fulfilled its mission and should give way to philosophy. This may sound absurd to our ears but let us remember that in our own day, and against all expectations, we have an Arthur Danto who has given this improbable thesis of Hegel new life by contenting that contemporary modern art has indeed become philosophy.'

Contemporary art...It has rather became two -headed monster: a money making machine and of course, a tool for political and cultural propaganda.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-10 18:54:36
P.S. Which truly makes sense, keeping in mind endless critique of so called 'art purists'. Is not it ironic, in a way, that a noble search for a social meaning in art has turned into badly concealed promotion of 'trends' and socio-political sloganeering


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:11:42
That's quite a simplistic view, Alexander. It is true that conceptual art has much to do with philosophy (though I believe it outpaces philosophy in some ways, and that would contradict Hegel), but classicists for example did not produce in a vacuum. And if you look, for example, to the political worries, together with some humour, in Bruegel's paintings, were they propaganda or a money making machine? Art is a communication tool. It's up to you if you want to communicate ideas (propaganda), money-making spectacular things/feelings or just... nothing (and they are not mutually exclusive). What do you write for - could we say that you try to do a certain kind of "propaganda"? Perhaps Mr. Stalin would say that... I don't.
Art is an extraordinary tool for social intervention, that's a fact - and it has been used for centuries by institutions who recognized that. Today the artists are more free to individually choose what they want to convey.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 19:15:37
Interesting comments! Indeed, Mr. Mikhailov, the jury may still be out on modern art, especially in as much as it reflects the cultural wateland that is modern culture. I intend to explore next Tolstoy's conception of art which, with the possible exception of Derrida's conception, is the most controversial of modern theories of art and may be of interest to you. Stay tuned. We can then perhaps continue the dialogue.

P.S. Eventually I also intend to share with the Ovi readers my views of Danto's conception of art.

P.S.


Sand2008-11-10 19:18:51
The problem, Mr. Mikhaylov, for me as an artist is that I do not see art as a smooth continuum. If you speak of visual art alone you have all sorts of creations ranging from the more than photographic to interesting relationships of colors, lines and forms to explore the way the eye relates these elements to create a whole. Some very beautiful paintings capture the elemental delight of smoke or flames without actual reference to these. Some are clear political or religious expressions. Some pieces are halfway between straight graphics and three dimensional sculpture. Some quite wonderful pieces are manipulations of lights or reflections sometimes given dynamic character with electric motors or electronic controls. These are all under today's umbrella of art and this is art in only the visual area. All the other branches of art simply do not fit into the staid and limited historical conventions. For art, like science, is exploration in many directions and the treasures it brings back are alien creatures to the old definitions.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:19:31
"a noble search for a social meaning in art has turned into badly concealed promotion of 'trends'"
the social meaning of art is not restricted to "making you feel good through the exhibition of beautiful things". and how do you distinguish "social meanings" from "trends" when the "trends" can carry a deep social meaning?


Sand2008-11-10 19:26:34
Incidentally, this total crap about the jury being out is highly insulting to original creators who are, according to Mr. P., to file in front of some sort of elite self appointed officials and be accorded their good opinions as to whether or not they qualify. There is no jury and art is something for artists to deal with, not theoretical arbiters of abstract personal views based on archaic theories.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:28:59
I also think that if you want to convey a "trend" or a socio-political slogan, you don't need to "conceal" it... unless you're ashamed of who you are or what you think (not courageous enough to assume it), or you're under a repressive state's authority. Art is often a way of exposing yourself, if you want to conceal anything, you'll better refrain from using art as a tool.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 19:42:30
Incidentally, Mr. S., one need not be an academic to be identified as a “jerk or asshole” to use your own siblime language of the poetics of defecation. It is much more simple than that: all that one has to do is open one’s mouth and utter those profundities… As Socrates used to tell his interlocutors: speak, that I may know you.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:44:45
I have no problem whatsoever with art doing the propaganda of values such as equality, human rights, multiculturalism (Gauguin, that propagandist!), peace, the importance of having a critic sense (Mauricio Catalan, damn you).
But if it promotes, let's say Nazism, I start having a problem with it - not because it is propaganda or art, but because of what the authors have choosen to communicate with it.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:46:46
errata: "chosen"



Sand2008-11-10 19:54:43
Absolutely, Mr.P., you need not qualify as an academic to be a total asshole, you merely have to have an inborn natural talent in that direction. Your open refusal to consult a dictionary to confirm the existence of a word does the trick for you very nicely.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-10 19:57:03
That's why I can't appreciate Leni Riefenstahl's films, you see?


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 21:24:40
I suppose it all depends on the propaganda being peddled, yes, Ms. Pereira? If the propaganda happens to be about the bashing and the caricaturizing of the Catholic Church or religious tenets in general with half truths and the commemorating of selected events, a la Bill Maher, or a la Mr. S., then, that's art; if it is that of Leni Riefenstahl at the Nuremburg gathering, then that is not art but mere propaganda and cultural philistinism. Sounds relativistic and biased to me. As you may know, Tolstoy for one, who was an artist himself and one of the best that ever lived, had a slightly different and less biased approach to art. Perhaps it is worth considering too?


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-10 22:06:40
'Today the artists are more free to individually choose what they want to convey.'

Perhaps my views are rather simplistic (do not blame me for that for I had been enhcanted with minimalism in visual art and music for oh so long)Speakingof individual expression and the indivudual choise of expression...) We are not living in vacuum. I may treat myself as the most free being on Earth, that is, free from conventions, sense of belonging, gender,sex,social status, and yet... I am never free of what constitutes a contemporary spirit - abundance of propaganda. It is a modern day's religion that affects everyone. Free spirit is nothing but enchanting illusion. Perhaps,it is due to artist's imagination that this myth still thrives but... As Bruegel and Bosh had tried to express religious anxiety of their days, contempopary artists and writers express their own anxiety. The thing is that - at the end it will be all Society and State approved... or not. In the latter case, the art would not exist, at least in its physical- printed/painted/published/exhibited state


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-10 22:12:22
Alexandra Pereira 2008-11-10 19:19:31
"a noble search for a social meaning in art has turned into badly concealed promotion of 'trends'"
the social meaning of art is not restricted to "making you feel good through the exhibition of beautiful things". and how do you distinguish "social meanings" from "trends" when the "trends" can carry a deep social meaning?

Trends never carry any deep social meaning for they are just that - trends. It is the same as to say that my current hairdo does convey deep social meaning (even if I choose to dress like a punk)
It would be dangerous and most unwise to make assumptions.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-10 22:18:42
Alexandra Pereira 2008-11-10 19:44:45
I have no problem whatsoever with art doing the propaganda of values such as equality, human rights, multiculturalism (Gauguin, that propagandist!), peace, the importance of having a critic sense (Mauricio Catalan, damn you).
But if it promotes, let's say Nazism, I start having a problem with it - not because it is propaganda or art, but because of what the authors have choosen to communicate with it.

Of course! Nazists against Communists! Well, I suppose if you would possess KGB or any other type of secret police at your disposal you will certainly ensure that 'masses' won't have the slightest chance of seeing a wrong type of art, or of getting in touch with wrong type of ideology, that can smear you Bright New World Of Britherhood and Equality (based on pathological Self Loathing). Bravo, Comrade! You have a good potential of becoming Commmisar of Culture!


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 22:31:40
“Those people who rejected all art were obviously wrong, because they rejected what cannot be rejected—one of the most necessary means of communication, without which mankind cannot live…Formerly, there was fear that among objects of art some corrupting objects might be found, and so all art was forbidden. Now, there is only fear lest they be deprived of some pleasure afforded by art, and so all art is patronized. And I think that the second error is much greater than the first and its consequences are much more harmful.”

--Leo Tolstoy (in What is Art)

What Tolstoy is saying is obvious and sensible: if everything is accepted as art, with no discrimination, then nothing is art. More on his conception of art later.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-10 22:40:28
And what does it say, Mr. S., about the bizarre notion that a word only found in a 1828 dictionary (as found in google: "commenter" as already shown on another thread) is preferred to one in current use (commentator)simply to disagree and not to fess that one is no expert on the English language and the emperor may be naked. In fact it all sounds slightly deranged and anti-rational to me: the private language of the nut house where they call each other jerk and total asshole. Indeed.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 00:02:57
Well, speaking of art once more... Grandpa's Lenin famous statement comes to mind 'And wha you, writers and artists are really worth with all your pornography, that you create for the sake of entertaining ruling class and making all these money? All creative workers must join political organizations!'
Who said it that works of art must always carry social content? It is hard to say now... As to Tolstoy - his aim was ahrdly a social critique - mostly an observation (with a healthy dash of his type of morality, of course)


Sand2008-11-11 00:19:01
Well, Mr. Asshole, as I pointed out clearly several times and which you refuse to admit the word "commenter" is not only in the 1913 edition of the Merriam Webster dictionary, it is in the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary sitting right now next to my desk published in 1989 and that makes it a perfectly usable legitimate word.So what the hell are you bitching so stupidly about except that your fragile ego is so frightened about being proven absolutely wrong that you cannot admit it? Hell, man, everybody is wrong once in a while. I doubt they'll revoke your PhD when they find out.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 00:20:30
"I may treat myself as the most free being on Earth, that is, free from conventions, sense of belonging, gender,sex,social status, and yet... I am never free of what constitutes a contemporary spirit - abundance of propaganda."
Yes, but in some societies you no longer have anyone burning your works or killing you for not liking them, right? That's what I meant with "being more free to convey what you want to convey" - you won't have to think twice before releasing your work about who in your family will suffer the consequences, or what type of torture "they" will choose to impose you! And abundance of propanganda is not such a recent phenomenon.

"Free spirit is nothing but enchanting illusion."
I remember mentioning FREE CHOICE, which is somewhat different from free spirit (that's up to each one of us, to consider himself a free spirit or not).

"at the end it will be all Society and State approved... or not. In the latter case, the art would not exist, at least in its physical- printed/painted/published/exhibited state"
Yeah, right... as if you need anyone's approval to exhibit your art online, for example, or to publish your texts, or to print whatever you want to print...

"Trends never carry any deep social meaning for they are just that - trends"
Sure, but I'm curious about the criteria you use yourself to distinguish trends from social meaningful things, I would be glad if you would explain a little bit better.

"Of course! Nazists against Communists!"
What?? I don't understand you man, please put your private traumas aside to discuss this. Communist propaganda wasn't nicer. What do you want me to say: "Yes, sure, why not?! Art which defends racism, antisemitism, brutality, war: I LOVE IT!!??" That would be quite ridiculous and, to be truthful, not in accordance at all with the way I think and feel. So: NO, I DON'T LOVE IT - and there's a big difference between that and sending KGB men to apprehend it! (Gosh, do I explain my ideas in SUCH a bad way? Frankly, I don't think so...)

"I suppose if you would possess KGB or any other type of secret police at your disposal you will certainly ensure that 'masses' won't have the slightest chance of seeing a wrong type of art, or of getting in touch with wrong type of ideology"
Sorry Alexander, did you read something in my answer which was not there?? I mean, I never had censorship pretensions nor the temptation to control what the masses see or do not see. I said I had a personal problem with Riefenstahl's films or Nazi propaganda (just as I have with communist one, by the way), and you can only have a problem if you know a little bit about... if that implies seeing or not seeing? For some people involves seing first, for others it doesn't (because just what it represents causes them chills and they refuse to see), so what?

"Bravo, Comrade! You have a good potential of becoming Commmisar of Culture!"
I am not a Communist, Alexander, stop calling me Comrade and Commisar! Can one have a decent discussion in this forum?


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 00:37:25
Alexander:

"'And what you, writers and artists are really worth with all your pornography, that you create for the sake of entertaining ruling class and making all these money? All creative workers must join political organizations!'
I guess this was part of the reason why Lenin kept disagreeing with Gorky, in Capri and elsewhere? The fact that communists manipulated artists and creators has little to do with the fact that art with relevant social content is valid too - and it is specially valid when you are not COERSED to do it!!

"Who said that works of art must always carry social content? It is hard to say now..."
Not me for sure! What I said, on the contrary, was that you can not discard ALL the ones that carry social and political content as mere "propaganda"... and ALL the supposedly "socially approved" ones (you don't need your art to be approved to divulge it nowadays) as mere "money-making machines". In fact, art was never as democratic as it is today (and maybe you won't agree with me on this).


Sand2008-11-11 00:48:07
All art is not beautiful (and sometimes is specifically designed to be ugly) and all art is not representative of something else. Malevitch’s suprematist composition “White on White” was something itself representing nothing. Paintings by Ad Reinhardt, Franz Kline, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Josef Albers, and many, many others do not represent anything but themselves. There is definitely no jury out on these many accepted painters.

But suppose we go to representative art. Is a piece of horseshit selected by an artist representative art? If it is put on a pedestal in a gallery is it then representative art because the public can then assume it is a comment on something? Does putting an engraved label on it “The Philosophy of Art” make it art? If it must be marble would cutting a piece of marble in the precise shape of a piece of horseshit make it art, with or without the label? When is it or is it not art? Andy Warhole made up commercial soap boxes exactly like the ones being sold in supermarkets and exhibited them in galleries and sold them for high prices. Were they art? How would Plato or Hegel have dealt with that?


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 01:13:31
Okay, okay... Don't be a Commissar then… if you do not want to... Let's have a decent discussion on this forum.
Speaking of Free Choice... I would not for a life of me, to base my entire life (including my work etc.) on a mere philosophical conception of Free Choice for as an artist (good or bad – after all, it is in the eye of beholder) I require, or at least hope for two things in this life – to be able to sustain myself to a reasonable extend by producing something that I believe has some worth to others, and certain recognition, which is part of the package. I can sit in my home and not care for other people’s opinions as long as I live, but it would be a ghastly existence…. In a way, it is quite similar to conversing to a wall. I may create the most beautiful projects in privacy of my head, or have visions that might benefit humankind. It is my Free Choice. However, what my Free Choice is worth of, if it is only an illusion of an overblown ego? The true art can exist only as exchange and not as act of will, and it must come out in the form, appropriate or suitable to others.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 01:14:20
And speaking of personal aversion to say, Nazi propaganda… I can understand it just as well (although I mist admit that yes, on your part, it had been rather badly expressed) but… Here we come to the question of Modern Day Liberals. I must say something about them.
I had never questioned my political views before meaning that when asked a question regarding my loyalties, I always had a ready answer at hand. Of course, I am liberal! What else?
Nowadays, I am not sure of it anymore. What has made me to start doubting my former believes is growing suspicion that modern days liberals are not what they are crack to be. And to say more…
I believe that liberals of our days face inevitable bankruptcy.
I have had my fair share of reading books, scientific papers, online blogs and essays written by Liberals. What surprises me however, is a very tone in which these materials are written.
A word ‘witch –hunt’ comes to my mind immediately. How come? Liberals supposedly aim at equality, free speech and so on yet they seem to be the most intolerant group of people, who is always ready to destroy all dissent imaginable. In a way, it makes me think of Spanish Inquisition. By this very day, they managed to develop the whole dictionary of derogatory words, that suppose to libel once and for all whose ‘ who is not with us but against us.’ Fascists, skinheads, racists, ageists, sizeists, supremacists, etc. You almost expect to heard ‘Witch! Witch!’ and the next thing you are obliged to do is to build up good bonfire.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 02:03:22
I think you're being far too deterministic, Alexander. I mean, you write what you want to write and it doesn't have to have a very obvious socio-political content to be good or to be literature... (though it will be more interesting if it has). And many times art has socio-political content, one way or another, even if that was not your expressed intention. Other times, an artist can decide for himself to express a given idea in a more obvious manner. And it's not because it happens that it is not art anymore - in that case, all the madonnas wouldn't be art but propaganda, Guernica would not be art, Andy's can would not be art, Deroubaix would not be art, Bruegel's battle would not be art, Yoko Ono's pieces for peace would not be art, Engaged Art Action London would not be art, Helen and Newton Harrison would not be art, this would not be art:
http://fc03.deviantart.com/fs21/f/2007/282/1/8/Speak_out_against_Iraq_War_by_Latuff2.jpg

nor this:
http://faculty.washington.edu/dillon/rhethtml/dadamaps/kitchen_knife_400.jpg

or this:
http://pranks.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/papst.jpg

or this:
http://members.telering.at/pat/slidehp1.htm

or this:
http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/high/images/Ken-Montage1.jpg

and the list goes on and on and on...

And the art of Miriam Mabeka (Mama Africa), who died today, was it mere anti-apartheid "propaganda"?


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 02:09:06
The list of‘ists’ can be almost indefinite, as language itself, as long as fanatics of all kinds can play with thesaurus. It does not matter what all these words mean, if anything – the important thing is we are in a process of creating our own, bright and powerful ‘duck speak’, and nothing would stop us from doing so.
Funny enough, but in this respect, freedom loving liberals happily employ all the tools that their opponents employ, or might to employ, consequently – a poisonous critique which leads to professional and personal disgrace of someone who was foolish enough to say a wrong thing, hysterical cries of militants and fanatics, aimed to remind you that you might be ostracized if not destroyed one day when the Bright New World Will Come, labeling which puts one in funny position regarding criminal law, threats, books banning as well as banning certain types of scientific researches, abridging of art and castrating of language, falsification of history, creating ‘demons’ and ‘saints’ etc. Naturally, they always explain this tactic as historical necessity – an excuse to perform dirty work for the sake of oppressed minorities.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 02:10:13
Modern days’ liberalism elevates itself to a level of religion, where you can easily spell your loyalties by saying certain things, as if in prayer, or to expose yourself as a heretic, consequently. It also becomes a religion where one can easily find ‘martyrs’, ‘saints’ and ‘heroes’, where sort of harmonious, free from oppression society is a symbol of Salvation on earth, and ‘redemption’ and self- loathing is the only way to express the true loyalty. It becomes religion supported both by learned men (who know only too well that knowledge is a dangerous thing and can be only spoon-fed to populace, according to the newest prescription, or the results might be most disappointing) and by hordes of homegrown believers, whose intentions are often unclear by their enthusiasm is all too aparent.




Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 02:32:52
You know Alexander, I don't identify myself with the Liberal label (I have a certain aversion to labels, you know), so I am not really sure if your critics are directed towards me.
"Liberals supposedly aim at equality, free speech and so on yet they seem to be the most intolerant group of people, who is always ready to destroy all dissent imaginable. In a way, it makes me think of Spanish Inquisition."
Yeah, for one thing, the Spanish Inquisitors were very liberal!

"they managed to develop the whole dictionary of derogatory words"
Words are developed to identify realities (and sometimes even fantasies), they are worth what they are worth.

"‘ who is not with us but against us.’"
I don't face the world in this way.

"Fascists, skinheads, racists, ageists, sizeists, supremacists, etc."
Some of those words do describe existing realities, Alexander. Want to abolish them?? The words or the realities?? I mean, I can't see how someone who says that black people are shit and can't govern themselves is not a racist, the same way I can't see how someone who enjoys Nazi ideology and promotes it is not a fascist. Or someone who says we have to give the burden of governing to the White Man is not an advocate of White supremacy. Can you?? Maybe you would like to invent different, more imaginative words for these realities, but the realities do exist.

"You almost expect to heard ‘Witch! Witch!’ and the next thing you are obliged to do is to build up good bonfire"
Sure, I light one up every night because here where I am, it gets pretty cold at night during wintertime. We have a good fireplace and with the embers, instead of fascists, supremacists and halloween witches (the only ones around), we grill a Spanish Inquisition morcilla or a Spanish nuts cocktail (which are not Spanish in this case, nor - by heavens - propagandistic).


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 02:59:16
Very interesting your epic speech against liberals Alexander, now I must clarify a couple of things:

1. This has little to do with your aversion to art with socio-political content and your claim that it is not art
2. I'm not a fan of "duck-speak" - except if you mean duck rice or Donald duck's cartoons
3. The Spanish Inquisition was not Liberal (as far as our historians can see)
4. Personally, I love playing with thesaurus because I love to write (propaganda or not)
5. I'm sure you like to play with thesaurus too because you're a writer
6. You don't own thesaurus
7. Generally, I try to know the meaning of the words I happen to use
8. I'm not a member of any party
9. Are you?
10."free from oppression society is a symbol of Salvation on earth" -- I don't know if it is Salvation (look at all the damned souls who are free to use all the -ists they want), but being free from oppression can be a good start... for whichever free activities you want to develop (like playing with theasaurus)
11. everything fine with your unpacking about the Liberals in your life otherwise - I suppose it's not for me.

"labeling which puts one in funny position regarding criminal law, threats, books banning as well as banning certain types of scientific researches, abridging of art and castrating of language, falsification of history, creating ‘demons’ and ‘saints’ etc."
What can I say?? "I am sorry, it must have been hard"?? Must be.
Gosh, I'm out of this forum for tonight. It's been a hard day with many... humm... is misunderstandings the right word? Must be.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 03:17:57
So you wanted "Mein Kampf", according to which Aryans are at the top of the hierarchy and Gypsies, Jews and Blacks at the bottom, which defends militarism and identifies the two twin evils of communism and judaism, asserts and explains why "germans cannot be both germans and jews" not to be banned anywhere, because of its undoubtable literary value, so what?? That's a personal position and doesn't have much to do with the "poisonous critique which leads to professional and personal disgrace of someone who was foolish enough to say a wrong thing" (what the hell are you talking about?? is it just me asking??)



Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 03:25:08
"I would not for a life of me, to base my entire life (...) on a mere philosophical conception of Free Choice for as an artist I require, or at least hope for two things in this life – to be able to sustain myself to a reasonable extend by producing something that I believe has some worth to others, and certain recognition, which is part of the package. I can sit in my home and not care for other people’s opinions as long as I live, but it would be a ghastly existence…"
Well I don't know about you, but when I write, although I am worried about communicating something, I don't really give a shit for what others may think in the sense that... I simply don't care if they don't agree with its content.
ps - recognition is not always part of the package.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 03:31:36
ps2 - and recognition is a lady who doesn't care much about the fact that you're waiting/hoping for it or not. untrustworthy lady she is.


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-11 03:40:33
I think Tolstoy is being underestimated, Mr. Mikhelov, especially considering that he was himself an artist of the highest order and spoke from personal experience. On liberalism, I know where you are coming from having gone through the same metamorphosis, so to speak and arrived at a similar insight regarding its lack of tolerance. It seems to me that Liberalism is a double sided coin: it can be an emotional attitude of innate optimism and generosity and even compassion toward the less fortunate and privileged, or it can be an ideology or a paradigm through which one perceives and orders reality, especially when that reality has thrown out the baby (religion) out with the bathwater (the abuses of religion). When it is an ideology it usually replaces the religious thrust in man and ends up demonizing those who don’t agree with the political orthodoxy or the aim of their enlightened revolutions. Those who oppose alternate ideologies or beliefs are then promptly dubbed fascists, reactionaries, obstructionists at the political level, people who need to be purged or liquidated; at a more banal and personal level, especially on the part of those who have not even bothered to or are not capable of reading and understanding the philosophical tenets of an ideology, they are called jerks and total assholes; a total bizarre projection, Jung would aver. Somehow this is thought to be progressive and civilized. Dostoyevsky has the type down cold in his prophetic novel “The Devils,” sometimes translated as “The Possessed.” It is indeed a psychological disaster to be wholly possessed by an ideology and to make it one’s idol and god. Once it has a grip, it rarely lets go. Only a few, such as Silone or Kostler or Pasternak, escape the ideology, on the right or on the left, with their humanity intact.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 03:49:58
"abridging of art and castrating of language"
I'm totally against the castration of language, if that helps... I've written a couple of books (for one or two lady recognition showed up as appointed, for the other one not really), and I agree mrs. language would have a very sharp voice if she would become an eunuch. :)
to abridge art is not a favorite hobby here either (I love both Malevitch and art's expansion).


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-11 03:50:25
Errata above: I mispelled your name: Mikhaylov, not Mikhelov.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 05:28:06
And here we go again... The very mention of such a book as 'Mein Kampf' (I wonder if you have ever read it) must send (according to your liberal but not so liberal mindset)an honest person into frenzy. This is an exact illustration of what I had said previously - a use of buzzwords that must enrage 'brainwashed' mind right away, as it was an electric shock or rather to set a Pavlovian reaction to it as is the case with a stimuli, and at the end to produce 'politically correct' sort of reaction - is ot it what liberals have been trying to achieve all along? To answer the quistion regarding my political affiliation, if such a thing is applicable for me - I am libertarian (not a nazi - so stop cringing your teeth when I talk about 'Main Kampf'for God's sake. For a mere free thinker as you claim you are you possess fenomenally narrow mind.


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 05:45:44
To Mr Paparella:

I must thank you for a prompt correcting of a sad misspeling of my name (as a Naturalized US citizen, I am well aware of certain challenges that Slavic spelling might possess for English speaking crowd - my compliments to you, humbly!)
I must also add that in your kind response you have touched upon all the crucial points I have placed earlied regarding liberals and such, all the points except one - an allusion to a responsibility of every well educated person towards the use and possible withholding of information. I wonder why you have decided to ommit that?


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 05:50:20
And I must apologise for all unintentional misspells, that I have left uncorrected in my replies (yes, sometimes I prefer not to rely on thesaurus, or even on a spellcheck)


Alexander Mikhaylov2008-11-11 05:53:18
ps2 - and recognition is a lady who doesn't care much about the fact that you're waiting/hoping for it or not. untrustworthy lady she is.


And the cheap lady that would be


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 11:22:37
"The very mention of such a book as 'Mein Kampf' (I wonder if you have ever read it) must send (according to your liberal but not so liberal mindset) an honest person into frenzy"
Did I read it? Parts. Did I enjoy it? No. Did you enjoy it? Frenzy? Not really. And thank you for informing me about my mindset, you really like to catalog people (it seems like most of them, at least the ones who possess the minimum of common sense and are not afraid to express it, are Liberals - of course, the "so-called" Liberals don't think with their own head, as that must be a privilege of the "more culturally and politically developed european intelligentsia", but according to Pavlovian reactions).

"This is an exact illustration of what I had said previously"
Yes, even because you tried to catalog a very broad range of different people under the label "Liberal" so I could supposedly fit inside - who's abusing from thesaurus here? And yes, THAT ONE is a very "politically correct" reaction.

"a use of buzzwords that must enrage 'brainwashed' mind right away, as it was an electric shock"
??? Are we talking about art or electric shocks torture??

You know what, Alexander? I think that all this HYSTERIA of yours is merely related with one simple thing. Those links I posted before and Ovi today's cover with what I called (Yes, I, no one else for me imposing me the need to do propaganda!) "Obamart" (and which encompasses a very broad range of works too - not proposing Salvation, but values like equality, multiculturalism, peace - and I called it "Obamart" because of its quite spontaneous genesis related with Obama campaign, not exactly to do Obama/Democratic/Liberal propaganda). You simply don't consider anything of that as art, but mere propaganda, and that has been causing the most exaggerated emotional reaction in you (also a sign of a pretty narrow mind). Too bad...

You must also like to know that most artists doing that art don't get any personal economic profit with it, and were not coerced nor brainwashed by anyone to do it. So like our friends the libertarian french used to say merci et au revoir.

Alexander:
"Libertarianism is a term used to describe a philisophical movement that views respect for individual choice and individual liberty as the foundation stone of the ideal society and seeks to minimize or even abolish the coercive actions of the state (...) "Libertarian" was originally employed by late Enlightenment free-thinkers to refer to those who believed in free will, as opposed to determinism"

Hummmm I really cannot see how this contradicts your deterministic affirmations against free will and free choice!!!


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 11:27:21
Alexander, you're not a libertarian, you're just a very politically correct guy playing anarchist games.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 11:30:07
Because it makes you feel sophisticated and "part of the european intelligentsia".

Call me "Liberal" for calling racist to a racist. That's not anarchist? I don't care.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 11:35:49
Last thing: this America-Europe jealousy doesn't help anyone... If you check it right, that type of art (propaganda for you) promotes universal values and is not being made by "american liberals" only.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 11:46:49
"And the cheap lady that would be"
Really? I don't consider it cheap - generally requires much work. Although its value (of recognition) is very relative.


Alexandra Pereira2008-11-11 13:11:49
And No, Alexander: I am not insensible to the difference between exalting Hitler or Mandela on a given artwork (contrary to your speculation, that doesn't mean I defend the banishment of artwork). Being insensible to that difference is not exactly what I would call sophistication and maturity (sorry for not being politically correct). No wait... did I just make a libertarian choice which can start defining the type of art that I enjoy?


Emanuel Paparella2008-11-11 15:28:50
To Mr. Mikhaylov

Indeed, to go back to your commissar of culture, the witholding of information from the people by the cultural elites is part of the abuse of power and power is the greatest crime of the twentieth century, on both sides of the spectrum, mitigated only by responsibility. One has to wonder whether or not the 21st century will fare any better.


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