Dr Great Art Podcast, Episode 57, "(Im)Maturity in Art."
Immaturity, maturity, and the desire for the latter in art and the repression of that in culture.
#maturity #arthistory #contemporaryart #markstaffbrandl #drgreatart #jamesdavidaudlin
(Im)Maturity in Art
Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the 57th "Dr Great Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.
Today my Artecdote concerns immaturity, maturity, and the desire for the latter in art.
I have long found this to be a problem in our art and our culture in general at this time. I was reminded of it recently by a great post on Facebook by James David Audlin. He is a remarkable scholar and author. More about him later.
Let us start with his post, where he addresses culture at large.
James writes, "Grass in lawns is kept in a juvenile state and not allowed to grow to maturity and go to seed, and then die back to be replaced by a new generation. Cattle are forced to remain in a constantly lactating state, hens to do nothing but get fat and lay eggs. Forests are forced out of the natural growth-dieback-grassland-regrowth cycle, and artificially maintained at peak growth. While rivers by nature drop silt at the slower-moving insides of curves as they age, with the result that the curves over time get more pronounced, becoming meanders that eventually separate into semicircular ponds, rivers today are forced to remain perpetually in a young state, cleared of the sandbars and unnaturally straightened for the sake of human maritime traffic.
And the human public is likewise kept forever in a mental childhood by the kleptocracy, with vapid distracting entertainment, and never taught how to use the mental tools that adult minds use, those that empower the mind to engage in critical evaluative thinking; rather, people are trained to _believe_ that they think, when what they “think” is merely the programming brainwashed into them by the media and the social institutions.
And the result?
Lawns become infested with noisome insects bearing Lyme disease; to maintain them in a juvenile state the grass must be frequently cut, putting out air pollution and causing allergic reactions; and watered, depleting the potable water supply; and heavily fertilized and weedkillered, giving humans cancer. Cow milk causes serious allergies as well as heart and brain issues. Peak forests drop dry branches and leaves to the earth below, creating a lot of dry detritus, which eventually burns, causing vast forest fires that can destroy whole villages. Rivers cleared of sandbars are highly prone to massive flooding.
And humans who don’t think are no longer human – but rather no more than cattle, hooked up to extractors not to suck milk out of them but profit ... profit for the kleptocracy that keeps them in this infantile state."
(This is from his not-yet-published collection of essays, 'Ranting the Truth.')
James is allowing me to podcast this excerpt as well as add my own thoughts.
As I suggested, I feel this has a lot to do with problems in art now.
What still remains unrealized in criticism and theory, sadly, is Susan Sonntag's far-sighted feminist call for an "erotics" of appreciation in place of a dry aesthetics. A philosophical wooing in this direction can be found in renowned art critic, art historian and psychologist Donald Kuspit's writings. In his book ‘Idiosyncratic Identities,’ he formulated three vital necessities for rejuvenating art in our postmodern times, when "the avant-garde [has died] from entropic pursuit of novelty."
These requirements are: to find the heart of creativity in desire, to embrace idiosyncrasy, and to nourish one's yearning for healthiness. Kuspit has continued to promote and expand on these ideas in his recent works. I have learned from Sonntag and Kuspit about the necessity of including desire as an integral element. Desire clearly plays a role in antithetical strife, which is a form of competitive yearning. However, this struggle can be interpreted more broadly. Interaction with foundational tropes, as I discuss below, can be fertile ground for personal, idiosyncratic development, especially when questioning them, combining them in unique ways, or extending and elaborating them.
My metaphor(m) theory in practice encourages unconventionality and manifests a desire for maturation on the part of the creator. Even if that maturity itself is not reached, the desire and will to achieve it is drive enough. The struggle to mature is a synecdoche of the will to reach psychological healthiness. In addition to leading us to a combined intellectual and sensual appreciation of literature and art, Kuspit's ideas could help us value "art that possesses a quality of desire that seems to undo the system from within, making it seem at odds with itself in unexpected subjective ways."
All artists must of course retain their childlike ability to play and to be inspired, but I am suggesting we need to simultaneously grow out of the cultural indoctrination to remain in a perpetual state of late adolescence, which corporations do to us in order for us to be easily manipulated consumers. This is an important personal dialectic. Yes, find your inspiration in your own unique experiences, which might include popular culture or youthful insights. My own suspicion is that we have many of our clearest insights around the age of 10, and many of our muddiest, less-unique thoughts around 18 to 25, due to exaggerated desires to "fit in." This is where the corporations endeavor to keep us. However, we must GROW and develop from those initial sparkling inspirations to become truly inimitable sources of light ourselves. Self-study, self-critique, hard work, the growth of social, emotional, technical and intellectual intelligence enrich our art.
James David Audlin is a scholar and author, originally from northern New York state, now living in Panama after previously living in France.
He holds degrees from Rochester Institute of Technology and Andover Newton. A retired pastor and university professor, his best known nonfiction book is 'The Circle of Life,' a study of Native American philosophy and spirituality. His most popular novel is "Rats Live on no Evil Star", also available in French ("Palindrome") and Spanish ("Palíndromo"), in his own translations.
Audlin is recognized most for his massive two-volume restoration of the original version of the Gospel of John, translating it afresh from Greek and Aramaic, with several hundred pages of textual history and commentary.
That was (Im)Maturity in Art.
Thanks for listening. Podcast number 57. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch, with Performance-Paintings!
I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history, or look at your desired theme through the lens of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.
You can find or contact me at
book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)
or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Dr Great Art.