Archive for January, 2017

Non Me Vexo – More Local News

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Uncategorized

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http://kutv.com/news/local/salt-lake-city-has-the-worst-air-quality-in-the-nation

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The indoor photos were taken at the grand piano, and in the library, where Sibelius often listened to broadcasts and recordings of his works in the evenings.

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Ingram Marshall
“Sibelius in His Radio Corner” (1974-1980)

Sibelius in His Radio Corner was inspired by a photograph of the Finnish composer during his “forty years of silence,” sitting in an armchair and listening to his own work being performed on the radio. “In his old age Sibelius enjoyed pulling in distant broadcasts of his music off the short-wave. I imagined that with all the static and signal drift, some of these listening experiences might have been proleptically like a modern-day electronically processed kurzwellen piece.” New Albion Records


Nervous System Angelus


It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw
the nerves in patterns on a screen.

–T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917)

• • •


If we wish to discern whether anything is beautiful or not, we do not refer the representation of it to the object by means of understanding with a view to cognition, but by means of the imagination (acting perhaps in conjunction with understanding) we refer the representation to the subject and its feeling of pleasure or displeasure. The judgement of taste, therefore, is not a cognitive judgement, and so not logical, but is aesthetic-which means that it is one whose determining ground cannot be other than subjective. Every reference of representations is capable of being objective, even that of sensations (in which case it signifies the real in an empirical representation). The one exception to this is the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. This denotes nothing in the object, but is a feeling which the subject has of itself and of the manner in which it is affected by the representation.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (1790), SS 1. The judgement of taste is aesthetic.

Now, I would argue that the same applies to intelligence. To the extent that we believe in such a thing as a “beautiful mind,” the very last way we should ever expect to identify one would be by means of IQ testing or neurological analysis. Of the many areas of research in which the writings of Kant enjoy an enduring influence, one of the most significant is the field of Phenomenology, a branch of philosophy which (along with the Pragmatism of the American psychologist William James) first arises as a critique of Experimental Psychology. Though the very same could be said of Freud: psychoanalysis arose a critical rebuke to the brilliant inanity of Helmholtz, Fechner and Wundt.


But does anyone write today on this stuff, and in a way which combines the very best of Art History and the History of Science? Yes.

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Or, if you were prefer to read the classic text I mentioned in class the other day, have a look at William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, considered by Modern Library to be one of the greatest books of the 20th century. (Pay no heed to the readers’ list, which has been hijacked by morons and zombies.)

Here is our next author, Clement Greenberg. I’m furnishing all four essays we’ll discuss, though imagine we will only have time to get to “Avante-Garde and Kitsch” on Wednesday. We can discuss the other three Greenberg essays next Monday.

For the record Greenberg was an American critic who is widely considered one of the most important theorists of modern art. Just one bit of evidence to support this is the painting of Greenberg, by Mark Tansey, which depicts the critic as a victorious general Patton at the Versailles/Bonn Convention(s). We’ll have an occasion to discuss the complexity of Greenberg’s position of authority (along with Tansey’s depiction of him) very soon. Good luck with a handful of reading which may prove to be a formidable challenge. I hope this challenge will be a rewarding experience however. Again, I don’t imagine we’ll have time to discuss all these material in a single day, but here they all are for anyone wishing to get ahead.

Finally, I really enjoyed our meeting today, and I hope you did too. It’s been a good semester so far and I thank you for the efforts and contributions you’ve made so far. Keep up the good work, and see you soon!




Clement Greenberg
(1909–1994)


“The Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939)
“Towards A Newer Laocoön” (1940)
“The Pasted-Paper Revolution” (1948)
“The Plight of Culture” (1953)

(click here for all four essays)

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Mark Tansey (American)
The Triumph of The New York School
oil on canvas, 74″ x 120″
The Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City, New York

(click image for names of artists depicted)


S: I have to ask is it right to judge a previous century against the more recent in regards to technologies available? It’s like getting critical of cavemen for not using Adobe Photoshop CS5 to do a painting. But yes, I can tell a difference between Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. So really, I guess I am asking if Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev had the same assets or resources and tools to draw from to create music? Or is this angle of analysis even relevant?

T: For what it’s worth, it’s the very fact that you’re able to ‘relate’ to his music which would prompt Eliot to say Tchaikovsky’s music is not especially great. As for the technologies available to Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, I would imagine they were working with relatively similar material resources at their disposal. The symphonic instruments we recognize today were developed in the 19th century.

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What differs is the way the two composers chose to deploy those resources. Whereas Prokofiev’s music has the lightness and energy of modern transit and cinema, Tchaikovsky’s music still feels absurdly ponderous, bloated with sentimental, narcissistic and wretched 19th-century emotionalism.

With regard to the technologies of different eras, it’s crucial to recognize that Eliot considers prehistoric cave painting — such as had been discovered recently in Lascaux and Altamira — to be supremely powerful, as good as any art created in the subsequent 36,000 years. It does not matter what technology – whether a straw, a paint brush, a photographic camera, or a radio is used to create art – what matters is that the artist use it cannily to produce art which is appreciated for its abstract qualities as opposed to its personal appeal.

This is why Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though a fascinating reflection on modern recording technologies, would, for Eliot, still be a failure as art. It describes the latest and most unsettling technologies, but it does so from the outside and through the familiar techniques of 19th-century realism and the epistolary novel. (Odd though it might sound, I would argue Stoker’s novel, unlike most others, would actually gain something by being transferred to CD and heard on an iPod.)

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In strict contrast to this, Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land,” should, according to his own professed terms, be considered great art, because it doesn’t speak merely about the latest technologies but rather it attempts to speak from within and through the latest technologies. Eliot, it should be observed, deliberately adopts forms of speech of the sort generated by the latest audio technologies. The effect of disembodied voices (on the phonograph or radio) is uniquely modern, yet it can’t fail to recall, uncannily, an archaic ritual of summoning the dead. Consequently, Eliot’s art functions as a modern recapitulation of primitive necromancy, and displays some of the same power as that produced by artists in prehistoric times.

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The Waste Land

I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. . . .

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Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel.
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying ‘Stetson!
‘You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
‘That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
‘Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
‘Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
‘Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!

‘You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!’

Gavin Bryars
“The Sinking of The Titanic” (1969)

First performance: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 1972

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

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Gustav Moreau
The Apparition (1877)

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Gustave Moreau
Jupiter and Semele (1895)

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Odilon Redon
The Cyclops (1914)

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Odilon Redon
Evocation (?)

An officially sponsored university event.

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Click image for more information.

http://fox13now.com/2015/02/06/upcoming-sex-week-at-university-of-utah-sparks-debate-on-campus/

Important to consider now, and when you prepare your midterm and final papers.

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citizenship

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Gypsy Swing

Posted: January 27, 2017 in Uncategorized




LA BATAILLE S’EST ENGAGE[E]

Posted: January 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge On Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders

Oscar Wilde’s Contemporary

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Oscar Wilde
(1854 – 1900)


❦ Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
❦ From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.

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Friedrich Nietzsche
(1844—1900)
“On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense”


In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history” — yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals [i.e., the human species] had to die. …

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Only through forgetfulness can man ever achieve the illusion of possessing a “truth” in the sense just designated. If he does not wish to be satisfied with truth in the form of a tautology — that is, with empty shells — then he will forever buy illusions for truths. What is a word? The image of a nerve stimulus in sounds. But to infer from the nerve stimulus, a cause outside us, that is already the result of a false and unjustified application of the principle of reason. If truth alone had been the deciding factor in the genesis of language, and if the standpoint of certainty had been decisive for designations, then how could we still dare to say “the stone is hard,” as if “hard” were something otherwise familiar to us, and not merely a totally subjective stimulation!

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The different languages, set side by side, show that what matters with words is never the truth, never an adequate expression; else there would not be so many languages. The “thing in itself” (for that is what pure truth, without consequences, would be) is quite incomprehensible to the creators of language and not at all worth aiming for. One designates only the relations of things to man, and to express them one calls on the boldest metaphors.


A nerve stimulus, first transposed into an image—first metaphor. The image, in turn, imitated by a sound — second metaphor. And each time there is a complete overleaping of one sphere, right into the middle of an entirely new and different one. One can imagine a man who is totally deaf and has never had a sensation of sound and music. Perhaps such a person will gaze with astonishment at Chladni’s sound figures; perhaps he will discover their causes in the vibrations of the string and will now swear that he must know what men mean by “sound.”

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It is this way with all of us concerning language; we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things—metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. In the same way that the sound appears as a sand figure, so the mysterious X of the thing in itself first appears as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound. Thus the genesis of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land, is a least not derived from the essence of things. …

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John Singer Sargent
Madame X (1884)


What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms — in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.

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Oscar Wilde’s Mentor

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Walter Pater
(1839 – 1894)


Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive for us, – for that moment only. … To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.

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What is important, then, is not that the critic should possess a correct abstract definition of beauty for the intellect, but a certain kind of temperament, the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects. He will remember always that beauty exists in many forms. … The question he asks is always:–In whom did the stir, the genius, the sentiment of the period find itself? where was the receptacle of its refinement, its elevation, its taste? “The ages are all equal,” says William Blake, “but genius is always above its age.”

… Take, for instance, the writings of Wordsworth. The heat of his genius, entering into the substance of his work, has crystallised a part, but only a part, of it; and in that great mass of verse there is much which might well be forgotten. But scattered up and down it, sometimes fusing and transforming entire compositions, like the Stanzas on Resolution and Independence, or the Ode on the Recollections of Childhood, sometimes, as if at random, depositing a fine crystal here or there, in a matter it does not wholly search through and transmute, we trace the action of his unique, incommunicable faculty, that strange, mystical sense of a life in natural things, and of man’s life as a part of nature, drawing strength and colour and character from local influences, from the hills and streams, and from natural sights and sounds. Well! that is the virtue, the active principle in Wordsworth’s poetry; and then the function of the critic of Wordsworth is to follow up that active principle, to disengage it, to mark the degree in which it penetrates his verse.

― Walter Pater, “Conclusion”, The Renaissance (1873)

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Handmade History

Posted: January 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

I recently saw some internet heckler trying to accuse Women’s March participants of littering the streets with their abandoned signs. Apparently, this person has never seen roadside shrines and can only think of objects in a “use once, then dispose” manner.

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Click image for photo gallery.

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Dear Atmospheric Consumers,

Please join us Thursday, January 26th, 2017 @ 9:00am, on the front steps of the Utah State Capitol. We want to share with our legislators that Utah students care about clean air, and they are doing something about it.

Our focus this year:

What can students do to improve the quality of air in our valley?

We invite any school, classroom, or group to join us and participate. Students from different schools in the valley will speak about how air pollution effects them and what they are doing to improve the quality of their air.