In order to understand this concept we must follow its roots. Art, as the term is used in English and understood in Europe and its coloniesi is wholly a product of the dissolution of the feudal system in medieval France. Items identified as "art" dating to previous eras, such as "caveman art" are bare exercises in anachronism, betraying a very pedestrian understanding based on wholly unexamined cultural impactionsii, with the exception of classical art, which is the exact same thing in different times for different peopleiii.
At the time art was born, the land was practically speaking barren, here and there dotted by ruins of a previous time. The lower class went about scraping the bare mud with their bare hands in attempts at what generously may be called agriculture, and followed herds of sheep and pigs around the land. The middle class ran back and forth with sticks, sometimes (rarely) on horseback. The upper class consisted mostly of one guy. Here and there a collection of tree trunks more or less orderly piled together constituted a "castle" and "seat of power".
Apparently it sucks living under these conditions, not just as a lower class mudpackeriv but even as a sole upper-class guy.
Why would it suck, we should ask ourselves ? Inasmuch as the ruins of a long fané'dv glory are just that, ruins, you wouldn't expect the mud packing or pike chasing horde to miss anything in particular, at least not any more than they'd miss the wings they never had, or the throne of China they never saw.
While this argument is sound, and the troglodyte swarm that at some point in the flow of time had the unconscionable good fortune of being our ancestorsvi wasn't depressed on the grounds of its sorry state, it is nevertheless the lot of mankind to seek diversion. In such an environment as described diversion isn't hard to have, in fact it could be manufactured. If everyone is outdoors all the time, put a chosen few indoors. Make it so they will not handle mud or ever touch a fighting stick. Instead of work they shall do naught but speak and look, instead of carryng a stick of war they shall carry a mockery of one.
This would be quite factually diversvii and it does construct a "better world" : in a dispute between two plots of land, countries unto themselves, one may defeat the other by the use of sticks. If neither can safely or expediently defeat the other with a pointed stick, there's left the avenue of the rounded stick : once people from either side of a river agree that the left side country sucks and the right side country's cool, the end result is pretty much the same.
As any instrument of war, the rounded sticks burden with cost : all the people running around doing nothing useful (which is to say, involving mud) still have to eat, as in spite of all the pretense no amount of talkingviii yielded any mana yet. So for the purpose of feeding these alternate armies a special arrangement was constructed, whereby a special plot of land was allocated by the lord to feed the blatherers.ix This was called the advowson, and for a time it was a valuable bit of real estate, yielding no actual koku but allowing the lord to name the head chanter.x
This system, as any system, died eventually. As the crafter subclass of the underclass slowly created a parallel economy that ballooned to immense sizexi it came to control the currencyxii and with it the state whole. It didn't however feel any obligation to the previous owners of these trappings, much like Bitcoin feels no obligation to the previous owners of capital, or the state. It simply took all the bits it liked, and discarded all the rest, much in the manner a victorious male moving into the ex-household of some random, anonymous douche that thought himself "his enemy" - as if such a thing could ever be - will keep all the women he likes, dispatch, sell or move to the kitchen the rest, and then apply the same procedure to all the children (but with a little more bias towards "dispatch", in the "gory dismemberment and left to bleed" sense of "dispatch"). Much in the manner Bitcoin is treating the obsolete fiat world.
One of the bits that were taken over, stripped of the old petticoats and taught to dance in garter belts and high heels to please the new masters was art. Art, you see, had been originally the endeavour of the rounded sticks. 'Tis true that nobody knew at the time that what they were doing was simply art, nothing more, nothing less. For that matter, a certain gentleman had no idea he ordinarily spoke in prose. So what if he had no idea ?
The captured art was changed in some fundamental ways, other than finally being given the name "Art". Rather than the artist being nominated, for life, like the bishop or priest of yore, the artist is invited to join a capitalist quest for patronage. Any one underclass twerp may, perhaps, be an artist, if he pleases a lord. Because that's what ontologically institutes art : a lord saying "this is art". Nothing more, nothing less. There is no God above to turn pepsi into wine and to make priests anything. The lords saying "you shall be a priest now" enacts as reality the new social status of the artiste. And if society wishes to pretend social status comes with transcendent toppings, that's still entirely a social problem.
Natura non facit saltus, and so today you think Dali is an artist whether you understand why or not,xiii much in the manner a millenia ago you'd have thought your parish priest is the priest, whether you understand why or not. What "why" ? The lord said so. Fuck you.
The same principles are at work, today as back when you were packing mudxiv. Art is the icon of privilege for the consumption of the underclass. That the original medieval inventors were using it with heavy qualifications to enter, whereas the later burgeois lord let the barrier lower and the even later "national state" sham put them into museums and forced mudpacking schoolchildren to visit them, kneel and pray ? Minor differences, perhaps more related to the "how likely are these idiots to get mud on them" function than anything else.
In this sense, protesting that something ain't art because it's commercial is missing the point about in the same manner and to the same degree those nuts seeing "art" in prehistoric caves miss it. Art is exactly intended for mass consumption, that's what it does : it reminds every worthless fuckwit on the planet that the reason he's allowed to draw yet another breath is that the people much better than him who decide what shall be art haven't decided to terminate him yet, as it is their right and privilege to do, they being the actual human beings in this entire discussion.
So, now that you know what it is, how do you like art ? How worried are you about the decay of "good art" and the rise of "bad art" ? How important do you think art is for young people, to help shape their minds and by that shape their futures ? And how unfair is it that people who are just as good (for instance, you) as more famous artists aren't famous at all ?
Sorry to have been the one to break it to you. Next week we do an article about Santa.———
- Such as both Americas, as well as China, India and so on. [↩]
- Ideas are mental representations in which the subject takes an active role. Cultural impactions are mental representations in which the subject takes the passive role, with other agents holding the cock. [↩]
- Which is to say, Latin art is the product of the dissolution of the original kingdom in Latium, whereas Greek art is the product of the dissolution of the original, pre-Greek states in that cultural space. [↩]
- Which always, in all times and all places sucks, because it has to, because if it doesn't the entire incentive structure of human society collapses and you simply can't get anything done anymore, at all. [↩]
- Here's a little funny for you : fane in English denotes "a type of shrine". Isn't that a little vague ? What type of shrine ?
Meanwhile fané in French denotes a certain result of decay over time, something at the intersection of wizened and withered. So... what type of shrine ? [↩]
- Think of all the other legions that had no such luck before you think about how impious this correct representation is on the grounds that it twerks at your various mental impactions. [↩]
- This, incidentally, is an old word. [↩]
- Chanting, praying, whatever you call it makes no difference, it's still blather of the gab. [↩]
- This practice incidentally yielded a serious problem down the road : as the original lords didn't have the foresight to actually marry the whore (aka church) and thus impose the yoke on her neck, she was left free, able and willing to obtain donations and to service for pay any old Schmoe. As a result, it soon became common practice for Schmoes a little richer than dirt to leave a little something of their ownership to the universal whore (aka, the church) in order that it may suck their cock "forever", in the ethereal and unproductive manner it does (aka chanting). Since people are inconsequential but land is forever, the whore slowly increased its share of ownership of the actual land over the generations, to the point it had to be beaten into a pulp, stripped and mostly killed in order to disgorge later on. A little bit of early foresight would have saved a lot of toil down the road, as it usually is the case. [↩]
- Which turned to great importance later on, for instance during the gin wars. [↩]
- If you wish to compare, think about the share in the GDP of today held by raw grain, cattle and sheet metal. That was the medieval economy, completely. Everything else, over and on top of that is "burgeois" let's say, rather than medieval. [↩]
- Much in the way the current world-as-you-know-it is being reduced to a footnote of history these days. [↩]
- Here's the story of how this article was born :
KRS1 Jay-z..heh..i've seen local rap artists better than him. He has had a few really good hits other than that...meh. But that is just my opinion.
benkay "Artists". Still just moving product. I've yet to meet the artist who's a better capitalist than the jiggaman.
mircea_popescu I thought rapper guys did it for the principle of the thing.
benkay The artists always do. The capitalists never do.
mircea_popescu What about Dali ?
benkay What does that have to do with rap?
mircea_popescu But you said artists/capitalists! Was is strictly a rap phenomenon ?
benkay Hey man i'm an american idiot. You can't expect me to have opinions about real art like Dali.
deadweasel LSD is Dali.
mircea_popescu Lol. Ok, the point here is that while it'd be hard to argue Dali wasn't an artist, it's well established he was a capitalist whore, to a degree even people like Andy Warhol seem little babies.
benkay My point is that rap isn't art. It's a product manufactured for Americans.
mircea_popescu So then no rappers are artists. I can see it.
mod6 benkay: Umm...
benkay Some may think they are, in the same way that some Americans think they're CEO's when funded by idiots.
deadweasel They would probably describe themselves as businessmen. Slingin' and what not.
mircea_popescu But listen, is painting an art ? Or is it a product manufactured for Dutch people cca 1700 ? Or Italians cca 1600 ?
pankkake Painting wasn't always art, it was mostly used because we didn't have cameras yet.
mircea_popescu So vacation pictures are art, but rap ain't ?
deadweasel Vacation pictures are torture.
benkay Can't have a reasonable conversation in black and white, mp. Everything exists on a spectrum. Mainstream American rap is product. There are rap artists. There are rap producers. There are humans in between. Some mainstream rap may even be art to some people. I find some of j's wordplay rather elegant, myself.
mircea_popescu benkay okay, but something has to be something or not be something at some point. Otherwise we can't have a conversation at all, outside of ∀ = ∀.
benkay How about an analogue.
mircea_popescu Not without an explicit mapping function of some sort.
benkay Is this art or design? http://hannahstafford.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/alessibystarck.jpg
mircea_popescu That's a dildo.
benkay What is art? What design? What is product? What is art?
mircea_popescu Well, i guess i am writing an article now. Isn't life wondercool.
benkay Better you than me. I stopped writing about this highly subjective stuff back when I decided to stop convincing people of things. (It's an orange juicer, for those not in the know.)
- Are you sure you're no longer packing mud, by the way ? On the grounds of what, that you live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune, that you take it by turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week and that moistened bints distributing swords are no basis for a system of government ? Well bully for you. [↩]