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THE CAUSE VS. THE MUSE



?: I sometimes respect insane religious people more than activists. At least they have creative minds.


Answer: At least they constantly create God, what could be greater?


?: That's exactly what I mean.


Answer: The problem is summed in this quote which I suspect was authored by Ngugi: Where I come from all art is revolutionary and revolution is the only art.

Those are the words of a man who has forgotten the stories told before the coming of the oppressive system. An oppressed man in other words. What of the artist who exists simply because there exists beauty in the universe and he can tune into it without the need to use it for the purpose of revolution?

That artist has been called irrelevant in our day, what's the purpose of your art, everything has to have a purpose, arms, eyes, everything has a purpose... As though the purpose is always yours. If I'm to write for a cause it will be the cause against writing for causes in the name of art.


?: You know as a "female filmmaker" who is always expected to create from that position I understand and refuse to be reduced to my position in society's fabric.


Answer: Writing or creating is not a civil service, unless of course you work for the government and you are a civil servant, in which case your creative soul can easily be replaced by an artificial neural network that can process commands faster with flawless aesthetics designed by text books and social experiments. Then you are not an artist, you are a tool of a system of social engineering commands disguised as architecture, surely that's not art but civil engineering.

You just gave me an idea.

No, not an idea.

A memory.


?: Tell me more.


Answer: You've reminded me, that my cause in art, if I have to have a cause at all to be an artist, is against the cause. And this cause is a fundamental cause central to all my creation, that I'm a God who creates because God does nothing but create, day in and day out because that's nature - its an eternal railway line.


?: You know if we define the purpose of art as creating, as acting like goddess and god then it's up to evolution whether someone sees value in it, whether it survives or not.

In fact when I think of music, let's say for instance Liszt. It's inspiring and it had no other purpose than to be listened to. Saying it's inspiring is of course already a judgement.

So by saying it's inspirational I'm giving it an evolutionary advantage. It's very arbitrary and that's what I find charming about it. It's chance whether a piece of art survives or lives on. Just like with humanity.


Answer: If I make cake you can eat it whichever way you want, for ceremonies or for dessert. If I'm a flower farmer, I'm a flower farmer, if you use my blossoms at weddings it doesn't make me marriage officer, if you use them for funerals it doesn't make me an officiator of funerals. The flowers are not planted for their use or purpose whatsoever it may be, the flowers are planted for their beauty, for their color and fragrance.


?: I agree I think even though I find your examples are lacking. I don't think art needs to be replaced by flowers. Music, paintings, a poem. But you are a poet.


Answer: Then if one composes a piece, let's say a concerto, and I don't have a purpose in mind for it other than for it to be listened to, perhaps not even that, but just to create it like Tiziano's work which is only suitable for private taste so unique it seems the artist was creating only to amuse himself or to get rid of the creative itch to scratch out a musical note from an instrument, how are you different from a man who makes cups that could be used for soup or drink? It may appear as low life art but the artist himself is no different from any artisan and no holy ghost whispers to him alone what the wind does not blow into any pedestrian's ear. The idea that art in itself has to be higher is precisely what lends into the dilemma of higher purpose and cause. Because we imagine a painting opens us up to a world much more divine than looking through the window at children playing. I'm not saying everything is art or that children playing outside the window are like looking into a Basquiat or watch Bernard Shaw, no, I'm only stressing that like all those works of art we worship, common mundane things have the same source which is not divine. An artist and a flower farmer are as vastly different as a poet and a preacher.


?: I was just thinking about this too: what differentiates artist and artisan? Is every human an artist and is every human creation art?


Answer: Both poet and preacher claim inspiration, both use language but the preacher's hymns seek after souls and a poet's ballads are nothing more than singsong, but at the core they craft nothing more than words and there they have a common thread running through their vocations.


?: And what makes art and artisanry different? Is it not just a decision, an arbitrary one, to say the view out of your window is not art? I guess it is not because there was no artist involved. It could be art though if the person looking through the window is for instance a photographer. So an artist turns everyday situations and encounters into art so to say. And then art seems to be about the medium one choses. Maybe what makes art art then is the conscious choice of a medium. I think one difference though between art and artisanry is use. A cup is created for a certain purpose - art in my opinion isn't - which then makes art purposeless by definition. That's it's beauty I think. It simply is. Just like a human. Art for a cause hence is not art, it is an act of political expression.

Or is this too naive? Too simple?

And I like what you said about claiming inspiration. It's the fear of being meaningless, the fear of creating meaningless art. I actually love the meaninglessness in art. It's freedom. Someone said yesterday that art is the creation of content. It's so simplistic, that's what fascinated me about this definition. But then again that could also be the definition of life. So it lacks.


Answer: It not what it is that makes it art, it's how it is. Its not what you sing that makes a song but how you sing it. There should be a system of common aesthetic judgement therefore that says this is poetry and this is philosophy. This is perhaps why anti art came to be s movement, the very aesthetic of Dada for instance being an anti-aesthetic, but we have done this with the novel in post post modernism and this is the material of Nabokov's Pale Fire I mentioned the other time. In pale fire the critic becomes an artist and as low as writers think of critics the artist is asking if even dull drab colorless academic language can be used for the purposes of poetry. That's common to us we are used to hacking and repurposing. The question at the core in my opinion is what is the basis of aesthetic judgement, its moot mysticism, mostly because many artists have delusions of grandure, and its easy to say to tell a good painting you use your gut as though you just digest the paint by some mechanical subconscious effort which psychology can never explain. Think of Duchamp's urinary, how different was it for the cup, they are both porcelain and you can pee in both, how is one art and another a utilitarian object. Perhaps among cup makers cups are art given there is a long tradition of porcelain making.


?: I disagree with the common aesthetic judgement. Because art is so subjective and it should be. There is no sense in the objectification of art other than exclusion. It's what happened in film the recent years: older filmmakers who used - let's say 35mm - to shoot became very anxious that now "everybody" can make films. It shows how art and pretense, and art and power, are always intertwined. I agree, we do not need another episode of Dadaism but we also should be very careful not to make art a political power tool which a common aesthetic judgement to measure what is art and what isn't will make it. I personally have the opinion that not every video is a film and not every painting is a painting of aesthetic value - but there might be others who see art where I don't. That's the beauty of art. It's a masturbation of the artist and some will like the outcome, some won't. Some will cry for a common aesthetic judgement, some will say everything is art and art is everything. Art needs no structure, but one must explore structured art before breaking the structure down. That's quite obvious I think. But I was never a fan of ideas of Renaissance. I much rather like to become art the beacon of individualism and in that sense anarchy.


Answer: You say art needs no structure, well yes, I agree, at least not one all and sundry would agree on we do with morals and ethics in law, but I think there is need for some order in the chaos. Poetry suffers the greatest need for this, as the raw material is a common, surely thoughts and words occur to us all, so does rhythm and pattern recognition, this is why we have a neocortex, and so we find that everyone and anyone one is a poet, this was perpetuated by the modernists with success of Wasteland, where the artists sought to break the metric convention, and so we all began to play tennis without nets or markings. The printing press and perhaps the blog today is to blame for this as the camera was to blame for realist masters but these are only the effects of democratization of industrial processes and technology, after Ford created the assembly line you didn't need to be a mechanical engineer to put together a car, this is chiefly Adam Smith's fault and it will only get worse with the coming of 3D printers where without a chisel a sculpture will pop out of machines at a rate Michaelangelo would have moaned. In the early 2000s Ray Kurzweil (a prophet and an inventor) created Cybernatic poet, a ANN that works by style rendering that can craft poetry in chronic bursts of inspiration that could have rendered Wordsworth speechless and of course worthless. Plato and Aristotle had a different job, to put together the human moral fibre with the needle of philosophy, Newton and Einstein the same because society and nature can be understood solely on an empirical basis but beauty cannot. I think it's terrible that art has not achieved what law and physics have achieved.


?: But if art is purposeless then why should it achieve the same as science? Science is nothing but a crutch for humankind. Art is the playground of humankind. With every new development or movement we complain and wish ourselves back to other times. That's what we call being conservative. And what you wrote actually seems quite conservative to me. Elitist in fact. I think the audience - every single member of the audience - should be the judge. Not the artist herself. You want art to be taken seriously - that I understand. But it's a game. Physics and law are about physical survival, art isn't. Art is what we create and consume when we managed to physically survive. And you forget that while a human creates out of their own mind and heart a machine can't - it needs to be operated and fed with information - even if its food is just an algorithm. At the same time I quite like that machines are taking over - maybe after they have destroyed art it can be reborn? Phoenix style?


Answer: Part of the success of philosophy is the introduction of mathematical thought after Rationalism fell out of favor to Empiricism. The task is greater with art, where illiteracy is permitted on the poetic license of inspiration. I'm not proposing a methodical approach to art as the imagists proposed to poetry, I'm looking for a more rigorous approach to art without leaving the studio to join art critics in the stuffy academic libraries. I'm not asking for principal mathematics which can serve as the catechism of art and poetry but something more flexible, a manifesto perhaps, and a unifying one which can reconcile all the contradictory movements of art, this should be something human like Hawking's attempt to unify Newtonian physics with the quantum spectrum that Einstein exposed in his equations of light and space and time.


?: You want a theory of everything for art. But this won't work. Because there is more to art than survival and physical bodies. I understand where your hunger comes from. But it seems to me that at least parts of your thoughts have fallen victim to a certain idea of professionalism. I can't concur with that because I have never studied art. All I have done is practice. So one might say I'm a charlatan and I'm simply not an elitist. It would be utterly irrational because it would mean excluding myself.

And humans are rational aren't they? That's what science teaches us. Note the sarcasm.

Art teaches us the opposite. That's why what you are proposing will be destructive to art.

Unless the manifesto is valid for you and only you A manifesto about art should be radically individualistic. And in terms of philosophy: I have had the pleasure of being professionalized there and today I can safely say that all I took away from it was that all you need to know is how to argue: premise, deduction/induction, conclusion. If you adhere to this structure you can basically prove anything you want to prove. With this formula you can prove that an animal is more valuable than a human if you so desire. Or the opposite. It's up to us how we use the instruments. Just the same with art. But you must in a way be able to defend your creation. State motives if you so wish. But - no - fuck it. Sometimes art is just a product of mere chance and coincidence.


Answer: Vocationalism I'ld say. And to some degree elitist aught not to be ostracized as the artist should not be isolated from society regarding its progress in science or law. What swept in art first is only catching up with police today with the rejection of authority, so we have seen it overplayed by the media in the assent of Trump and Brexit, that there stood a college of men and women who claimed deeper insight into economics and society who warmed against those popular revolutions. I personally don't believe in art as mass media, I don't imagine it could be anything but propaganda.


?: A manifesto would in my opinion further this populist tendencies you spoke about. Because it claims to have a truth that's larger than you. Unless - that's my premise - it is only valid for you. An instrument to measure your own art.

My manifesto would be that there shouldn't be one. That art - like life - should be free as long as nobody is hurt. It's a more playful and naive approach surely. But like I said before I lost my respect for the academic thought in the moment I realized it only depends on my skills of arguing. So I guess the philosophic method is all that anyone can actually ever learn. Everything else - in art and social sciences, so called humanities - can't be learned because it's opportunistic and will always be subject to change. The only thing that will never change is that it all depends on how skilled you are at applying the philosophical method of arguing.


Answer: Saying that humans are rational is in fact a rationalist assertion that science may not agree with today, the so called story of the man on the coach, most times we are irrational. The manifesto in itself would be an ethical code and nothing more, its deficiency is apparent. In its nature it can only belong to a movement like a legal cannon that belongs to a state or community. What I'm expressing is a problem that stems from the class exclusive nature of art in history, when if you couldn't build a dark room you had no use of a camera, no matter how poignant your eye is. I recognize art as belonging to a tradition, which unfortunately inherited inequalities. It should make sense to reason that not everyone has access to art at all degrees, and that as with material there is also inequality with regards to intellect, not that there are people who can't afford to think but that there are people who can afford education. This is not strictly academic education but cultural experience as well, the traveler and how many stories he has to tell. Much exported by Allan Parton when he said those who don't travel read only one page of the book, is only an illustration for how culture is not universally accessible and therefore cannot be found in Hoipoloi (pardon the classist language). There was never a call for the authorial issuing of licensing for artists but recognition that the elite as you call it is not naturally wrong.


?: How does it make sense that not everyone should have the access?

Why are the travelers stories more valuable than the stories of someone who can't afford to travel? Is it not much more that we give value to the travelers stories only because they seem more exclusive? More special? Of course the elite isn't naturally or inherently wrong because they are the elite. But I would argue that they must question themselves in their position. To me every story is valuable. What the elite do with a story is a different question. I think it is very dangerous to rank stories or experiences.

I have the feeling you are very much a follower of Aristotle and thus Hannah Arendt. A philosopher I value like no other - but also - again - very elitist. She had the opinion that only those who act with others are actually acting as such. That action is only action when you act jointly. I guess this is what you meant with your point that a manifesto can only be of value if connected to a movement? And if that's the idea then you have a very political view on art. Arendts definition of politics is acting together. This means a manifesto would be political, too. And then it would be art for a cause, even if the cause is art itself. And for me when it comes to art I'm a follower of Beuyss.


Answer: While you can learn to play the Mbira and master it as any instrument you still have no access to a thorough understanding of the pulse of the music to spontaneously create good Mbira, unless you were an anthropologist and you lived for decades with the makers of the instrument and the custodians of this tradition. This problem is beautifully illustrated in literature in the Kant's magna opus Critique because of language, the problem of the tower of Babel, if I may call it that, where no matter how meticulous a translation is it is still inaccurate. To even say transcendental aesthetic in itself is faulty and the translation admit now, without prescribing literary puritanism where only Russians can truly give me War and Peace there is no way of getting round this problem. It appears aesthetics in their non objective nature are also exclusive to select cultures, societies, genders and all manner of classification. We can't say therefore that all art is universal without boundaries which we need to break through.


?: I think there is a problem with the idea of universalism. I would always favor individualism. But that's maybe just a question of personal taste - and probably belief.


Answer: To write Farewell to Catalonia it only helped Orwell that he was a comrade in Spain or we wouldn't know the experience of revolution from such a poignant view, we are privileged therefore to access work not only from the imagination but experience as well. While the imagination can surpass knowledge experience is still indispensable. So the privilege is not in affording train tickets but in traveling. So a man who suffers hunger may be more privileged than he who has never tasted hunger when it comes to writing about feasts of famine.


?: That's exactly what I was trying to say before. Stories can't be ranked. But we can rank who has a better insight - the privilege of insight.


Answer: So we maintain privilege of insight?


?: Yes. Absolutely. But for me that has nothing to do with art specifically. It's a general thing that's valid in politics, too, for instance.


Answer: How do we distinguish that privilege from exclusivity?


?: It has to do with the specific topic if you have one. Give me a minute to think.


Answer: And of style? Let's say I was to create Ndebele prints or Australian prints?

That was the marvel of Achebe wasn't it. Can a n****** write an English novel? And of course Achebe wrote no English novels, he wrote novels in English.


?: Exclusivity is when one says that art coming from people who have for instance travelled is somehow "better". Privilege of experience and exposure is connected to something specific, a topic, a geographical area, gender and so on. Privilege in that context is thus per se relative. Exclusivity on the other hand is not relative, it is pretty absolute because it contains a judgement. It's basically expertise versus the idea of a universal rule or truth. And of course expertise can also be connected to a certain artistic technique. But we must always separate medium/technique from content/experience. And not mix them up in our judgement of a piece of art. An expertly crafted painting can be empty, a piece of decoration. Think of Warhol for instance. A piece painted with no expertise can be art by chance/coincidence - here I am for instance thinking of a child's painting that if the buyer doesn't know a child made it could be counting as abstract art. If then you attach a famous name to it - even more so.


Answer: Would a travel novel from a provincial writer who has never seen beyond the mountains be as sufficient as one from someone who is an avid traveler?


?: Yes. As long as the writer is aware of her limits. It can be so in it's own right I believe. Again claiming truth would be the issue here.


Answer: Beuyss you said.


?: Yes.


Answer: But even fiction is not free from facts and truth. Isn't that why a lot of writers are journalists.


?: Fact and truth are not the same. Facts are very subjective. They depend on perspective. And only trees, the ocean and mountains know the truth.


Answer: If they are aware of the limitlessness of the imagination I would say, I think writing and film as well is a process of horning if not taming the imagination.


?: Yes - that's my issue with film.


Answer: Daydreams and poems are the same material accept to poems being under metric and such other constrains.


?: Only writing leaves enough space for imagination and fantasy.


Answer: Facts only make up the truth which is in itself in my opinion as subjective as the material of its composition.


?: By the way I do agree with your judgement towards a lot of poetry. But I do still think the issue will solve itself. By being radical and critical with your own art. If your definition of a true poem is it being metric etc. that's your own choice - and I do prefer this kind of systematic poetry. But that's a personal choice.


Answer: Writing suffers from the language problem, which is that language is a set of rules.


?: I disagree. That's why in my writing of films I usually write the same scene several times - from different perspectives. Because there is no such thing as truth. And facts always depend on perspective and question asked. The whole concept of truth is reckless. Childish even.

There is no way of knowing if the other person sees the same when we look at colors for instance.


Answer: I think truth is there, only its plural. Also truth is successive rather than simultaneous. More like time in a constant metamorphosis. So truth does not stay forever the same but becomes always.


?: That I can subscribe to. But then you say truth is it's own deconstruction. That's pretty dialectic.


Answer: If there was no way of knowing then we wouldn't know of color blindness. Color blindness exists because we know everyone who sees blue sees a particular hue we can pin down to a number on the spectrum of light. Of course the number is only a mean, a range of possible vision.


?: All we know is that someone sees something else than the majority. Unless we can wire brains to screens to show what the eyes actually see, there is no way of knowing if two people in actuality see the same. I can't wait for the moment where our brains can be wired.

Imagine the picture - the art!


Answer: We can wire already! We can share some senses. The science is very primitive.


?: I can't wait for it to be accessible.


Answer: But we will get there. Exclusive to lab mice for now. Lucky rodents!

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