You want to see reactionary ? I'll show you reactionary.

Monday, 04 November, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

nubbins` mircea_popescu: just finished; we're *all* misrepresenting the situation. The artists, the art dealers, the museum-going public, and every single person who commented on that post, yourself included. This is why "what is art" is an interesting topic for discussion; everyone colors it with their own experience.
mircea_popescu No, you're all doing it except me. You know this because I can enact my point in your system, but you can't enact your point in mine. In all situations where a set of representations appears equivalent but one excludes all others, that's also the correct one, and the others are degenerate.

nubbins` I'm still trying to figure out if I should determine the nature of your point or the nature of your system first!
mircea_popescu Lol good point.

jurov The correct one, and the others are degenerate *rolls eyes*.
mircea_popescu I'm super cereal.

nubbins` I'm curious to know what your description of my system would be.
jurov "Lurk moar".
mircea_popescu He was asking you neh ?

nubbins` Nope, that was directed towards you. You can't claI'm to know a man's mind and not expect hI'm to ask you to elaborate.
mircea_popescu Ah. Well I wouldn't know "your" system. What you've written so far is coherent with naive nominalism, ie the ideology of all youths. Occam requires it be described as such. (Naive nominalism is the view that convention enacts existence, and thus forumers are "CEOs" and their harebrained schemes "companies"). That aside, there aren't really enough points given explicitly to make much of a call.

nubbins` And thus, random bozos are "artists"?
mircea_popescu If you call them that.

nubbins` If the random bozo creates something that I like, what else would I call hI'm ?
mircea_popescu But there's a difference between calling a dude a nigger for convenience, as the shortest word available, and calling a dude a nigger for racism.

nubbins` I dunno, man. Maybe I'm applying too much of my interpretation of your "system" into your words, but it seems like you're flat-out stating that it's not art unless someone in a position of power or influence over the artist decrees it to be so.
mircea_popescu No, I am flat out stating that.

nubbins` And I find such a stance so bizarre that I'm not even sure where to begin picking it apart.
mircea_popescu I know.

nubbins` About five years ago, I moved into an apartment and found a large piece of wall panelling with a picture painted on the back side of it. It's currently gracing the wall of my living room. No name, no identifying marks whatsoever, no way for me to ever find out who made it or to contact them in any way. To propose that I hold any position relative to its creator, above or below, is simply nonsense. And yet, there it sits on my wall. Unequivocally and inarguably a work of art.
mircea_popescu "Unequivocally and inarguably a work of art" only in the republic of one constructed by your own living room, of which you are president.

nubbins` YES! My fucking point exactly!
mircea_popescu Why do you expect solipsism to be considered by others ? Your problem, not apt to be brought to the forum.i For that matter, you may perhaps in time come to own a miniature of the Eiffel tower, which you may emplace on your commode, or in your rectum. It'd be "the Eiffel tower of my commode", but only inasmuch as you are concerned.

nubbins` Sure.
mircea_popescu It's not germane to call it "the Eiffel tower" in conversation.

nubbins` Well, you're the one bringing definite articles into play.
mircea_popescu Yes, because I am the one discussing art, not whatever irreelvant stuff you're personally dreaming up all for yourself.

nubbins` It's not THE art on my walls, it's A piece of art.
mircea_popescu The Eiffel tower on yoru commode is not "a piece of Eiffel towers". It has nothing to do with the actual Eiffel tower.

nubbins` Everything is irrelevant but the opinion of the observer.
mircea_popescu No.

nubbins` Yes.
mircea_popescu Well so there you have it.

nubbins` Universally, no. But as a matter of determining whether it's art, yes.
mircea_popescu There are qualifications needed to be an observer. You don't become an observer of the battle of Thermopylae just by stating yourself as an observer.

nubbins` Oh, you most certainly do. An observer needs no qualifications beyond the ability to observe. The validity of their observations can certainly be debated just as the validity of what my opinion of art is can be debated.
mircea_popescu This may be the best stating of the naive nominalism discussed above. You presume youy have the faculty to observe. This presumption is wholly unsubstantiated.

nubbins` Art doesn't exist in a vacuum. You touched on this when you said it was inert, but that's just another way of questioning whether an event happens if there is no observer. Trees falling, noises being made, etc. And that's fair in the sense that art is some sort of Schrodinger's cat type thing where it's neither art nor not-art until someone looks at it. But the difference here is that all can agree on whether or not a cat is dead because that's quantifiable. None can agree on whether or not X is art because it's simply not quantifiable. How many arts is Starry Night? How many arts is Fountain?
mircea_popescu Nah, see, the equivocation at work here is that the requirements for being an observer in the forert with a falling tree are very low. One can't turn arround and expect all situations have equally low bars. Moreover I dunno what cats have to do with this. Is it an Internet thing ?

nubbins`'s_cat due to quantum physics gibberish, the cat is neither dead nor alive until observed. The natural extrapolation of your argument is that you can walk up to a woman weeping at the beauty of a painting, or of a spoken word, and politely inform her that what she has observed is, in fact, not art. But the very fact that she weeps I'm plies that she is having a strong emotional response to it, which in turn I'm plies that she oh fuck I smell smoke hold on
* jurov has hopelessly mainstream taste and readily agrees with any definition of art
mircea_popescu You could slap her, or kidnap her to the same strong emotional response. "What literature pays best ?" "Ransom notes". More's the point : your example is counterfactual. I would never talk to some anodyne serf woman, you might as well propose the cancer walk in the front door one day and begin jacking off. "Jacking off" ?! It has no penis. Incidentally, the miscasting as art as "that which yields emotional response" is roughly the reason trolling has become such a big deal culturally.

nubbins` And there are those who would argue that such a kidnapping is "performance art". I disagree, but my disagreement merely illustrates my point. I'm merely offering the simplest explanation for the fact that there are so many things which some people call art and other people don't.
mircea_popescu Yes, but your explanation requires people be equal and interchangeable, which is beyond naive. You might as well offer an explanation of art for spherical chickens that live in vacuums.

nubbins` Your explanation requires that some higher power declares X to be art and Y to be not-art, which is pretty lellyii. Suppose person X says "This sculpture I've commissioned is art" and person Y says "Nay, you are my subject, and I declare it to be not-art". Well, obviously person Z (X and Y's superior) should be the REAL person to ask, right? And so on and so on, and you arrive at the conclusion that art is declared by edict from Godiii. Or, y'know, Occam's razor. It's art if I think it's art. The obvious implication is that the words "to me" are inserted between "art" and "if". Because there's no other way to quantify it, and if you can't quantify things, you certainly can't classify them.
mircea_popescu Except no one cares about any "to me" sentence. They're voiceless.

nubbins` Sure, but what does that change?
mircea_popescu Looky, this trick where you go "MPEx is too hard, I don't understand it ; therefore we must all GLBSE because there's no other way to do it" isn't logically sound. It is the avatar of youth, but so are many other illogical topoi.

nubbins` S says a piss pot "is art to me". I don't care, because whether it's art to them has no bearing on whether it's art to me.
mircea_popescu The "to me" approach is unsound. This disqualifies it, perpetually and definitively. The remainder is the "to whom ?" approach, which reduces to social hierarchy. No problem here.

nubbins` Art acts on people. Without "to me", it does not exist.
mircea_popescu You presume all action is with the voluntary subjection of the subject. This may be true, but the subjection needn't be conscious.

nubbins` Agreed
mircea_popescu You don't discuss surgery in terms of the subjective impressions of patients. A similar discussion of any other craft is similarly out of place. Obviously the surgeons are surgeons by decree rather than because "people" feel surgeonized by them.

nubbins` Surgery definitely falls into the realm of the quantifiable.
mircea_popescu Only in the minds of people who have no idea what it is. In point of fact it's about as vague as art, which is why malpraxis is such a mess.

nubbins` "You're cured if I say you're cured",
mircea_popescu Exactly.

nubbins` "It's art if I tell you it's art".
mircea_popescu If and only if, when and only when.

nubbins` "I'm cured if my condition is gone", "it's art if I say it's art".
mircea_popescu Does the oncology patient go "all is well doc, I feel cured" ? No, they go "o please divine my fortunes, good master". It's quite a case of "you're cured if and when I say you're cured".

nubbins` "Cured" has nothing to do with feeling. Art has much to do with it.
mircea_popescu With feeling, perhaps. With conscious feeling rarely.

nubbins` Hmm.
mircea_popescu When I say "it's art because X feels Y" I may be right. When you say "it's art because I feel Y" you're certain to be wrong.

nubbins` "MP says it's art because nubbins wept", vs "nubbins says it's art because nubbins wept". Same conclusion, different route.
mircea_popescu To be formal, "MP said it's art, and it makes nubbins weep", vs "nubbins thinks it's art because that's why he thinks he wept". These are not the same, and for that matter the latter's logically unsound.

nubbins` You changed your example a bit there.
mircea_popescu How ?

nubbins` You went from "because x feels y" to "and x feels y". MP said it's art because it makes nubbins weep, or MP said it's art and it makes nubbins weep?
mircea_popescu There is no because in the correct statement. In fact, we can judge how good a nubbins you are by how adequately you weep when art is presented, NOT the other way around, judge art by how it "makes" you weep or not.

nubbins` Well, obviously it's not the art but nubbins himself that is the cause of the weeping. But let's not get tangled up.
mircea_popescu Nope. This naive "man at center of everything" goes well with the naive nominalism, but it's quite as nutty.

nubbins` Let's examine "MP said it's art".
mircea_popescu Ok.

nubbins` Presumably MP has criteria?
mircea_popescu None of your business as they may be, presumably he does.

nubbins` Sure. Nevertheless, we can presume that he does.
mircea_popescu Yea.

nubbins` We can also presume that nubbins also has criteria.
mircea_popescu Why ?

nubbins` As a facile counterpoint, why not? Surely there must be something that makes MP a good judge and nubbins a poor one?
mircea_popescu Because it's not only facile, but wrong. MP is one of the lords. He makes art be. Of course we can presume anything. Nubbins is no such lord. We're going to have to explain why we presume.

nubbins` Ahahaha. It's art by holy edict!
mircea_popescu That's the point of the article.

nubbins` You're a complicated man.
mircea_popescu "Surely there must be something that makes MP a good judge and nubbins a poor one?" implies that perhaps nubbins could move upwards in society, and contains implicit an equivalency of substance between the two. This isn't an accepted point between us. If it is true, you'll have to prove it.

nubbins` This implies that there's a ladder we're both on and you're above me on it. So if it's true, you'll have to prove it.
mircea_popescu Well not you and me personally but the icons we're discussing.

nubbins` Any two people, sure.
mircea_popescu I have to prove naught. I just make the art be art.

nubbins` So you pop into someone's house, point to a painting, and say "actually that's not art at all", and thus it was never art.
mircea_popescu How would MP and nubbins socially interract ?

nubbins` I'm not sure we would.
mircea_popescu I pop into someone's house by the intermediate agency of his wife which is now my slave and she throws out all their old shit cause now she knows better. "You know what ? My old junk wasn't art at all".

nubbins` That could happen without any outside influence, and indeed it does, all the fucking time. In fact, it even happens in the other direction! "hey, y'know, this album is actually pretty good", "this drawing has really grown on me".
mircea_popescu But this has little to do. You were discussing a particular application of the theory, with what I took as a view to reduce it to absurd. I' ve shown the approach not to really work, we can move on.

nubbins` Everything is absurd. Of course, absurdity is a spectrum. The entire sphere of art rests squarely on the more "absurd" end of that spectrum.
mircea_popescu Lol. The curse of this particular equalitarian-nominalism ogre is that it can't really make statements.

nubbins` Well, obviously, if you take my view, all art is a bit of a beat-off. An absurd, senseless beat-off. If one chooses to make himself an authority in such an arena, well, so be it. But he deceives himself if he thinks he can avoid becoming part of the beat-off. After all, what's a bigger beat-off than "I'm the guy who sez what's art and what's not"? It's enough to make your sides ache.
mircea_popescu You know that Seinfeld episode when george is pitching to the network nubbins ? "So what's this idea ?" "It's nothing" "Then why am I watching it ?" "Because it's on tv" "Not yet." That's it right there, "I'm the guy who sez."

nubbins` Not the best analogy. Tv has gatekeepers. You wanna air a tv show, you need the permission of your master. You wanna paint something or write a song, you're limited only by your own level of ambition.
mircea_popescu Ah, and "art" is free, you just put it on etsy ?

nubbins` Etsy has listing fees ;)
mircea_popescu But this sort of drawer novel, as it was known, doesn't exist in the sense of art. It exists in the sense of masturbation, or w/e the author does in his privacy. Think of an old painting being discovered in a stash. What is the question first and foremost asked ? Is it something as to the paionting itself or is it as to the pedigree of the maker ? Nobody goes "I found a 500 year old kinda cool painting". It only matters once it becomes "an old da Vinci has been discovered".

nubbins` So it's art if it reaches an audience of a certain size.
mircea_popescu Audience has nothing to do with it. This is wholly a medieval-inspired problem of probating. The question is if the found shipwreck survivor is a noble or a peasant, not if he owns a lot of farms and what have you.

nubbins` Nah, it matters to more people if it's an old da Vinci or what have you, but that doesn't preclude it mattering to anyone.
mircea_popescu If you insist to hold the utopian view.

nubbins` Oh, but I do! We're all floating in a void.
mircea_popescu Well the advantage of holding nonsense views (which utopianisms are by definiton) is that anything can be derived from them. Any conclusion is available to the inconsistent set of premises.

nubbins` Well, yes. The magazines at the grocery store tell me that kim kardashian is very worthy of my attention, but that's simply false. What's more nonsense than debating whether or not something is art? Or whether or not X or Y is a criteria for defining it? Or whether or not art exists? Or whether person X or person Y is an authority on the subject?
mircea_popescu There can be no such debate. Art is art. You disagree, you may be punished by your lord. End of story.

nubbins` Unadulterated nonsense, all of it, regardless of a self-appointed lord's opinion.
mircea_popescu So if you don't really wish to discuss art, why are you ?

nubbins` If I didn't wish to discuss it, I wouldn't. this is great. You assume that people don't wish to discuss nonsense. The length of this exchange implies otherwise.
mircea_popescu Lol no, you can't "Discuss" nonsense. To discuss a topic you have to renounce nonsense. If you wish to wallow in nonsense you're stuck doing it by yourself, whether you get some others to do the same in your general proximity is irrelevant, everyone's still doing it by himself. Bukkake like.

nubbins` Nonsense. You've been talking nonsense with me for like two hours.
mircea_popescu Wait 'till I publish it :)

nubbins` Wait til I draw it ;)
mircea_popescu Cool, go for it! I'ma add it to the article.

nubbins` Great, gimme an hour.


  1. This is what I think of your "empathy". It's a private affair, ye douchecanoes, not something open for public discussion. []
  2. He means lulzy. []
  3. He's trying the classical Aristotelian proof of the existence of a god (ie the prime mover) as a counterargument to the existence of that which would require a god to exist. I believe Aristotle is the sore recipient of the most-raped historical award. []
Category: Trilterviuri
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3 Responses

  1. O woe, I googled duchecanoe.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 4 November 2013


    She's titalented.

  3. Nice personal rant, artist.

    I was once given such shit miniature "uuu I's went to Paaris" and I could not refuse. For my mental health, was there a polite way to refuse a nice girl?

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