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Art: wince and wither

I’ve been assigned some occupational therapy by select concerned Mandarins of the Lichtenbergian Society. It’s also something of a test, I think, to see if I can play along and get along. And be funny. It has to be funny. Even witty.

Something on Art, with the capital A. My first impulse is to send you to an earlier post in which I think I come clean on the issue of Art. But I can go further. Note the shape of the capital letter A. Those of you familiar with Alpine architecture will see the form of a classic high-roofed lodge. Those anthropologists among you will note the Native American “tee-pee.” The capital A is clearly an icon for Shelter. Shelter is a “roof over your head” in this (upper) case. So Art is shelter; and while I seek something “over my head” to protect me from the storm, I know full well that in choosing Art for my protection: I’m in way “over my head.”

In true Lichtenburgian fashion I will let this initial burst of whimsy suffice for the moment and follow it up later with the necessary elaboration (don’t hold your breath). Better yet, let me be true to my belief in collaborative creative processes and open this up to a participatory fantasia. Does this particular conflicted form of Art fetish, this miserable creeping under the eaves of A, resonate for anyone else? Since your response need not be conscientious or earnest or anything in particular (we strive for Art, not accountability), do not waste time complaining you don’t have enough to go on. Consider yourself provoked.


  1. Turff wrote:

    Playing off the previous idea, can intent imbue something with the magic of Art, or in fact, rob it of same? Example: sweat shop labor in South Africa churning out tons of paintings with little differentiation? The intent is to generate piece-work pay, not necessarily to create art, but the media and mode is often automatically considered as such. Does it change the scenario appreciably if one of the paintings is truly special and unique in its aesthetic appeal?

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Turff wrote:

    Yeah, I went there, so does aesthetic appeal (or its Lichtenbergian parallel of intentional un-appeal) have any relevance in what is or is not Art?

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    I think art should speak for itself. Although I do love the commentary tracks on them DVDs. Intent is kind of irrelevant, from my perspective. Cimino had lots of good intent when he set out to make Heaven’s Gate. Coppola had good intent with One From the Heart. The intent of Reefer Madness is to discourage the use of drugs. We could go on.

    I believe in the notion of “found” art, too. There is no intent, in that case. But someone still has to pick it up, realize its aesthetic value, and put a frame around it.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  4. Dale wrote:

    Turff, bring all those ideas with you.

    And this Apollonian has no intention of preventing work from being destroyed. It’s important that the Corroboration segment of our Ritual simply confirm the idea that dead ends can be a good thing and to offer up works that should have met a proper Lichtenbergian end but didn’t. And the Toast thereunto, naturally.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  5. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    Just tossing out ideas. Of course, no works would actually be prevented from reaching the flames.

    Reject or accept any idea; all I do is bring an offering.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  6. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    A LOVE offering.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 5:04 pm | Permalink
  7. Dale wrote:

    It occurs to me, too, that a Dionysian would simply accept the live coal with his open hands.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  8. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    Nah, he’d swallow it whole, run it through his innards and fart out a gold nugget.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  9. Jeff Bishop wrote:


    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  10. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    The open hand is a recurring Native American motif. But many times there’s an open eye in the center of the hand. Some say it represents a portal to the Above World, and the constellation Orion.

    The eye-in-hand represents the path to the Above World, and the feathered serpent represents the Below World.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  11. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    One could draw a rough parallel to the Greek stuff, of course.

    Apollo, fixed points, the movement ofthe stars, all that is rational and can be known, predicted, etc. = Above World.

    Dionysus, the god of the vine, the unconscious, the dance, inspiration of the maenads, the creative impulse = Below World

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 8:06 pm | Permalink
  12. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    As far as what Terry was saying, it seems to me that movies and video games today are taking the place of myths, fulfilling many of the same functions. My son Truman is 3 and he totally lives in the Star Wars galaxy. You’re right in that no one movie meets all of Campbell criteria, but people seem to have a constellation of films that are meaningful to them, and with the Internet they can find other folks who kind of line up with the world they choose to live in. So we’re kind of creating our own communities … like the Lichtenberg Society, perhaps? … and we find Art that feeds and nurtures those little societies.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  13. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    Or perhaps we CREATE art to nurture these little societies.

    I apologize for not finishing my buttocks thing, by the way (the short film). After the holidays I will get it done. I will keep telling myself that.

    Thursday, December 20, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  14. Dale wrote:

    Just add it to your list.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  15. Dale wrote:

    Hey, Marc:

    • open hand
    • open eyes
    • finishing my buttocks thing
    • swallow it whole
    • rough parallel

    There you go.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 7:02 am | Permalink
  16. witnesswhereof wrote:

    What Is: There’s the Mountin’, there’s the Poopin’, there’s Hopin’ for the next Mountin’, and there’s Waitin’ for the next Poopin.

    There’s amount of poop.

    There’s not amounting to much.

    There’s not mounting much.

    There’s being pooped from much mounting.

    If only: that’s more hopin’ and waitin’.

    There’s also poopin’ a mountin’.

    There’s poopin’ while mountin’.

    There’s a poopin’ mount. You don’t want to follow one of those in a parade.

    There’s mountin’ poop. Aka Hillbilly Lubricant.

    I think Art has to be intended.

    To see Art where none was intended is to touch a capacity within yourself.

    I don’t think we can make real rituals anymore in earnest. That’s why for me the magic of our Lichtenbergian efforts involves some ironic framing. I don’t want to really believe in the elements of the ritual. What I want to acknowledge is the very contemporary misery we are addressing with our ironic magic. It’s a creative stance in the midst of a crisis. But even saying that seems far too earnest. It may be that contemporary magic cannot operate through our earnest intentions. And what kind of intention is Art, then, now?

    Can we wear powdered wigs?

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  17. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    If one wallows too much, one becomes a pig.

    Irony bores me. Wringing of hands bores me. It’s all too cute.

    Are our eyes fastened to the front of our skulls for a reason?

    But even that’s not quite right.

    What I mean to say…

    Are we fishermen?


    …are we taxidermists?

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  18. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    As for me, I would rather be a poor fisherman than a rich taxidermist. Give me Ed Wood. I will celebrate with him.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  19. Dale wrote:

    I think we can create real rituals, and even having today’s ironic stance (the peculiarly wide stance of bad faith?) as a part of it.

    With any luck, and the help of Lichtebergian forces beyond our control, hold that thought, I’ll be posting on this topic later today over on my blog.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  20. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    I think I can
    I think I can
    I think I can
    I think I can

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  21. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    Patton: What’s the matter with you?
    Soldier Who Gets Slapped: Well, I… I guess I… I can’t take it anymore.
    Patton: What did you say?
    Soldier Who Gets Slapped: It’s my nerves, sir. I… I just can’t stand the shelling anymore.
    Patton: Your *nerves*? Well, hell, you’re nothing but a God-damned coward.
    [Soldier starts sniveling]
    Patton: Shut up!
    [Slaps him, once forehanded, then backhanded on the rebound]
    Patton: I’m not going to have a man sitting here *crying*! In front of these brave men who have been wounded in battle!
    [Soldier snivels some more, and Patton swings a vicious forehand slap, knocking his helmet away]
    Patton: *Shut up!*
    [to the doctors]
    Patton: Don’t admit this yellow bastard. There’s nothing wrong with him. I won’t have a man who’s just afraid to fight *stinking up this place of honor!* You will get him back up to the front.
    [to soldier]
    Patton: You’re going back to the front, boy. You may get shot, and you may get killed, but you’re going back to the fighting. Either that, or I’ll stand you up before a firing squad. Why, I ought to shoot you right now, you…
    [pulls his service automatic. At that, the doctors leap forward and hustle the soldier out of the tent. Patton keeps shouting at the soldier’s back]
    Patton: God-damned bastard! Get him out of here! Take him back to the *front! You hear me? You God-damned coward!*
    [Takes deep breath]
    Patton: I won’t have cowards in my army.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  22. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    You know, it just occurs to me that when the Bishop accepts a prospective communicant into the church for the first time, that communicant gets slapped.

    Should we incorporate slapping into the ritual?

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
  23. Dale wrote:

    ::ahem:: Leaving aside your desire for physical abuse, I think it’s safe to surmise that we’re all already in the circle. It’s what has gotten us in there that we’re exorcising.

    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  24. Jeff Bishop wrote:


    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  25. Jeff Bishop wrote:


    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 10:35 pm | Permalink
  26. Jeff Bishop wrote:


    Friday, December 21, 2007 at 10:49 pm | Permalink
  27. Dale wrote:


    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 6:52 am | Permalink
  28. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    Asa Nisi Masa
    Asa Nisi Masa
    Asa Nisi Masa

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  29. pullporkplate wrote:

    Am I to understand that Bishop now wishes to be referred to as “The Bishop?”

    What is the origin of the phrase “slap happy?”

    Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  30. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    The Three Stooges?


    Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  31. accruedpastriesplea wrote:

    On humor as aggression. I don’t disagree, but I also think our scientist lacks the analytic tools to take the phenomenon apart in a truly discriminating way. He makes a guess about hormones as the cause; his “research” certainly doesn’t prove it. He might as well claim there’s such thing as a “humor gene.”

    The results could just as easily be explained by the male’s use of ridicule as a form of rivalry or sexual display in the face of unusual or threatening behavior from another male. Using a type of humor, ridicule, to achieve a specific end in this instance. Yes, there is a connection to aggression, but we have to better define “aggression.” Sorry to be such a nerd in my response. I hate it when scientists think that just because they’re scientists they can engage in these casual “experiments” and make their pronouncements and expect the rest of us to just nod in awe.

    Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  32. Jeff Bishop wrote:

    In this room, no one need apologize for being a nerd.

    I agree with you, marc. The way some scientists extrapolate or interepret their findings is sometimes quite a stretch — a type of “sexual display” all its own!

    Thursday, December 27, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  33. drumotherwise wrote:

    My geekdom grows. I was googling to see what had become of The Tale of the Tribe, the book Robert Anton Wilson was working on when he died. I encountered Maybe Logic Academy,, a really interesting site with an attendant blog (as you can see, every need can find a caterer in cyberspace, even secretly magical ironists like meself). Also came across this: be sure to press the menu button to see the rest of the films.

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 1:11 pm | Permalink