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<eyebeam><blast> Adorno's legacy/Art and Politics
Sjoukje van der Meulen wrote:
> Wonder versus intoxication. Here we are at the core of Adorno's
> dialectical thought. On the one hand music can, if technically
> mastered, establish wonders, art. But when it is used as a tool to
> intoxicate, it may also turn into its opposite: technology becomes
> hostile to consiousness.
This statement is tricky business, yes? There is an aspect of
intoxication which is about control (control of those intoxicated by
those that aren't). And there is an apect in which intoxication can
become hostile to consciousness. But, which of us hasn't been moved,
enlightend even, by moments of intoxication (whether drug induced or of
a more organic character)? And which of us hasn't been intellectually
inspired by such experiences? Intoxication is no more morally
problematic than a material. It is a matter of how it is used. Removing
intoxication from the sphere of intellect in art, even in regards to a
dialectical model, is just another one of those freedoms chipped away.
Isn't this in one sense the left doing the work of the right? OR if
Adorno is the right, of the right arguing for subtle control mechanisms
THose arguments might have some relation to The Magic mountain (Thomas
Mann)in which Settembrini calls music politically suspect. And Naphta
has a different take both trying to win the mind of Hans Castorp. OR
even the arguments in Portrait of the ARtist as a young man. Do these
distinctions still hold in a culture of category in which the categories
are growing exponetially? I for one have never been comfortable with
dialectical constructions. It seems so obviously an overlay on a much
more layered and vastly finite phenomena. Reductive even.
Oh well, two cents.
I'm a little upset today. I think the reason is associated with other
threads on this list. Here's the situation.
I teach in an art school temporarily. I went to school at this same
place some 20 years ago. The only tradition this school has is a blow
out party, the first weekend in april called Beaux Arts. Every year it
is the mish mash of typical art school behviour--lots of drinking (and
in the 90's) some drugging, sex, fire building, etc.,. It always teeters
on the edge of problems for the health of the students, the enormous
liability issues for the school etc.,. YEar after year, the
administration tries various methods of abandonning the tradition, which
never work. They have a no alcohol on campus policy and will not allow
the students to apply to the city for a bonfire permit. There is plenty
of alcohol and always a fire.
Last weekend was Beaux arts. The students started a fire in the same
place they always do, the security freaked out and called the police but
more importantly put in a call for the swat team. OUt comes the swat
team at 3:30 am--40 of them, dressed in full gear (Are these people
ready for the thrill of the kill or what?). They form a line across the
campus on one end and march to the other end spraying mace and pepper
gas on students and smacking a couple of them with their night sticks.
They did not announce anything via bull horn, nor did they ask anyone to
desist and leave. they formed a line, marched, hit, and sprayed. One
student crouched on the ground with his head between his legs and was
sprayed anyway. The swat team then identified another student and tried
to arrest him (one student, who are they kidding?). All the other
students swarmed around the swat team and carried him off away from
harms way (being arrested that is).
I wasn't there, so what I recount is second hand. It made the papers and
the TV. The administration of the school stated that they have always
been against Beaux Arts.
I am non-plussed to say the least. Without becoming too melodramatic, or
blowing this up to large, it does seem to be the state of affairs in the
US for both artists and the military industrial complex we live in. As
rarely as this swat team has been called out in Kansas City I wonder
about the business of police swat teams. It must cost in the millions to
equip them, train them, pay their salaries and benefits. I guess this
kind of event goes a long way towards justifying those costs. Keeping
150 or so art students at bay. I know these students as innocents. They
are babies. It would be difficult at best to get one of these students
Scary fact: Security is the largest growing industry in the United
States and has been for several years. When does security start becoming
I can make so many links to what we've been talking about here.
Yesterday's post about intoxication (Adorno) being suspect, is one
example. It was certainly suspect here, and was grounds for this kind of
THe role of artists as outside of mainstream culture--a role we covet
and nurture-- but which leads to other's suspiscion of us. Its not so
long ago that commie, pinko, faggot, artist were all synonymous.
THe ever increasingly smaller freedoms of the individual. This is a
funny one. In the US our rights are being ever more narrowly defined
each day. By defining these rights so minutely we are also defining what
we cannot do, are not allowed to do. The language always makes sense
and the event never does. So now we have rights which strangely give us
less than we had before.
I am upset and depressed by all of this. I am unreasonably dark to think
that one of the last freedoms in America is to drive around in a car
fully armed? (In texas you can do it with an open container of alcohol
in the car).
What do you all think? Am I over reacting? Or are these some dark signs
about the real nature of the cosumer military industrial complex?
michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice email@example.com
KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax
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