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Univeristy of Utah

Current Readings:
"The Metaphor of Organization: An Historiographical Perspective on The Bio-Medical Sciences of The Early 19th Century,"
Karl M. Figlio

"The Cuvier-Geoffrey Debate: French Biology in the Decades before Darwin,"
Toby A. Appel

Next Meeting:
Wednesday, May 31, 7 pm
Brian's Place, 435 E 200 S #14

We'll be preparing ourselves to read the following in a few weeks:
from A Thousand Plateaus
"Becoming Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible"

Upcoming Events:




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Freak of Nurture [userpic]

In such a socially charged performance as Orlan's it would be impossible, for reasons I tried to communicate the other day, that gender not play a significant role in her art. It's interesting enough to observe that women's body parts have always been for sale, from time immemorial. But I don't think that gets to the heart of the issue. Because women's body parts have not always been for sale in late-capitalist culture, and certainly Orlan's work only makes sense in this specific cultural moment.

What is it about Orlan's work which speaks directly and uniquely about the modes of production, distribution and consumption of our culture? One of the major premises of Enlightenment and Capitalist society, for instance, is that modern society is secular. Religion is an entirely private matter. Everyone is free to have a religion, but that worship should be private. There is no common cult. What Orlan's work seems to be revealing, quite to the contrary, is that Enlightenment culture does indeed actively participate in religion, whether anyone is aware of it or not. And not just a variety of individuals each running of to her own church or not. Rather, today's religion is a common religion which all members of society participate in, often unwittingly. We all belong to the same cult and all venerate the same kind of fetish objects, capitalist commodities.

But what cult could we all possibly belong to? And, if we did, what would such a cult look like? Well, that's where Orlan steps in. Her work powerfully enacts the cult of female beauty, a manufactured beauty, which as I again tried to point out in class, does not involved simply the use of dieting or makeup or a little cloth, but rather enlists the entire economic infrastruction. It requires as many natural, human an technological resources for Orlan to do her work as it would to make a motion picture, or start a war - think back to Colomina. Though there's one crucial difference to be observed. Whereas in cinema it's celluloid film which is cut and spliced before it imaged of Woman is projected onto a screen where it will appear as a fetish object - you can think here of the essay we read by Laura Mulvey. In the work of Orlan, on the other hand, it is not film but it is the body of an actual woman which is cut and spliced into a fetish object.

So, you can say Orlan is a feminist critic of patriarchy, and I'll certainly agree. But in keeping with what I said the other day about her working sitting on the crossroad of numerous cultural divides, it would be just as easy to say that Orlan is one of our most daring and innovating film critics. If the reason for that is not clear to us all by now, it might not be bad for us to go back and reexamine some of the essays we read earlier.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Graduate Student:

f@ck this program.
Associate Chump:
What's your complaint? That the first and only administrative response to your conference proposal showed an exclusive interest in practical money matters" - "Sure, sure; but who's going to pay for this?"
Graduate Student:
basically, yeah. the tepid response i received is representative of the program as whole. i thought that even if no one from the program were to be accepted (understanding that acceptance would be a long shot) it would be good practice for a program whose students lack motivation and any idea of the applicability of their degrees. guess i was barking up the wrong tree when i thought it would be good to try to mobilize students for such an effort.

feels like everyone is languishing. no one in this program, at least of the first year students, does anything other than second guess whether they should have entered the program in the first place. i thought that if we were to focus on creating a conference panel it would not only help morale, by giving everyone a focus, but also increase the visibility of the department - something which the administrators seem to value (as only administrators can) above actual academic pursuits. that response has been so tepid is emblematic of everyone's degree of dedication to the program.

i'm bitching more than i should and i knew all of this going into it. but, damn, it's frustrating. i'm sick of devoting all of my class time to all of these incredibly soft critiques and pop philosophy, and being so loaded down with homework that I don't have time to pursue anything genuinely interesting.

perhaps this is what grad school is all about.
Associate Chump:
Pretty much. At least 90% of the time. But, hell, I've never been to a real grad school. So how would I really know? You want to the straight dope, go ask Professor P.S.


Your remarks here remind me of a conversation I just had with an undergrad in Pre-Med/Exercise and Sports Science. I stayed after class with her for an hour and showed her all the amazing research that has been done, is continues to be done, on duration, instantaneity, bodily motion, proto-cinema and the making of the subject of modern science (Muybridge, Marey, Bachelard, Merleau-Ponty, etc). She was thoroughly bewildered, not to mention frustrated, that: her own department offers absolutely no instruction in these areas, none of the students in her field seem remotely curious about their discipline, none of the other students in our writing class come to me for academic direction. I told her quite frankly, get used to it and get over it. From here on in, it will be a long, lonely march. But, thank God, we're not always entirely alone. Notice, for example, for all that our friendship entails almost continuous talk of alcohol, how little you and I actually drink when we're together. Why? Because we're too busy working the mind instead of the bottle. Isn't that what real intellectual friendship is all about?


But know what I really think?

That irrespective of whether this school's program is hot or cold shit, you are in it and need to make the best of it - and not in any negative or resigned sense. You can make the most of the time you have to read, to write, to think - even if a great portion of that think involves wondering why things are still so barbaric here.

Yours is a new field, a new science still in the process of freeing itself from its pre-critical stage, its prehistory It can be a very challenging and frustrating time to be in your field, but it can also be a very exciting one. You, even as a rookie, are doing the necessary ground work so that other will be able build the disciplinary edifice. That's your job right now, isn't it?: to work out your field's equivalent to Marx's Grundrisse. Write up a conference proposal about this very topic and, as part of a panel or solo, go to Paris. I hear they got plenty of French intellectuals over there.


Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Just a few more brief remarks on Leo Steinberg. I really need to sit down and comb over Greenberg and Sontag for tomorrow. But I can't let the other go just yet.

Leo Steinberg
(b. Moscow, 1920)

There are still a number of important issues you could discuss in "Contemporary Art and The Plight of Its Public". Probably the most imporant thing I should point out to you is the title itself, which makes direct reference to Greenberg's "The Plight of Culture". There is little doubt that Steinberg, though he choses not to mention Greenberg's name, is entering into a direct conflict with him. As you read, or post for that matter, it might be helpful for you to consider exactly what Steinberg's gripe with Greenberg is? Clearly, there is a read difference in there styles of writing, in the vocubarly they use, the examples they give, and the way they address their audience. But are the two writers completely at odds with one another? Or are there some areas of overlap and sympathy between the two? One might begin might by addressing their use of the word "plight". How does the significance of that word shift as it is moved from one context to another, first presented as a condition which afflicts culture and then as one which afflicts the public? Is affliction even the best term to use both or either of these two cases? What word might work better?

As for Steinberg himself, I want to concentrate this morning not so much on the feeling of depression which overcame him upon first seeing the works of Jasper Johns. That we covered fairly well in class. What we didn't get an opportunity to discuss sufficiently, however, was the eventual (which is not to say final) reading which he was able to produce, as well as the fact that this new understanding of Johns' work represent not only a "cure" for Steinberg's depression but also a stimulus to seek further opportunities to feel the plight which this body of work first occasioned in him.

In particular, I want to discuss Johns' employment (or at least Steinberg's treatment of it) of what in linguistics are know as deictic or existential shifters.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

/Sudent/: That is quite a house...I understand what middle voice can look like, now.
I don't think I'll fully understand how this links to Colomina and Woolf, unless middle voice can also be used to destroy the opposition between inner and outer limits of a house or "container," and Virginia Woolf calls into question these "culturally 'naturalized'" axioms, using, through her novels, architecture to challenge them. Or, perhaps, using this "born again" architecture to reflect a character. Ah, suppose I'll find out as we progress, but I'm excited to read To the Lighthouse, now!

/Teacher/: Here, maybe think of "middle voice" (el coche se vende) as a way of getting beyond Aristotle's first and final causes, as well as Descartes' notion of rational engineering. This is a house which was not designed by an architect for a client (in linguistic terms, not a purposeful message travelling between a "sender" and a "receiver"), but rather a structure, an utterance, which emerges gratuitously on its own, and develops in its own terms. No prior expectations about form, function or finish are in place, and so the house is free to develop interminably, as it will. That's exactly what most confused me about Gehry's corrugated-aluminum and chain-link buildings when i first saw them. Walking by the construction site, I couldn't imagine why it took the builders so damn long to complete a simple structure, until an architect friend of mine pointed out that the building was "done". What I took to be scaffolding, barriers and a foreman's mobile office was in fact the "finished" building. To have renovated this construction would have been no different from building it in the first place. The initial building was already an alteration. This is a very different way of viewing "living space": no longer as simply neutral Cartesian isometric space which you simply live it, space now is itself dynamic, alive.

Something I wrote to one of your 2211 peers:

I like very much your idea of comparing the A+P building to those of other programs on campus. I was a bit surprised you wouldn't have mentioned the Marriott dance building, because that is such a wonderful example of a building designed for a specific purpose, and which has aged wonderfully well. Also, I'm a bit concerned about your idealization of classic style, which reads a bit too much like von Humboldt.

..Rather than returning to romantic notions about the perfection of Greco-Roman culture, you might (as a truly 'catholic' planner) want to turn your attention to the medieval notion of design, building and use. If you consider the great cathedrals of Europe, you'll notice that these are structures which, for all that hey are unmistakably grand building projects, nevertheless everywhere violate classical notions of finish. They were built over large stretches of time, and used by the public all the while they were under construction. And quite evidently their plans were revised over the course of their construction. Many began as fortress-like romanesque buildings (quite like the A+P building at present) but over time became increasingly ornate, glassy and gothic.

If you were to adopt this post-modern view of things, you would be able to suggest that our our Architecture and Planning Building at the U, horribly outdated, not be completely overhauled, but rather put into a state of permanent revision, quite a bit like the Robert Morris title (which I've borrowed for the name of one of my class livejournals) suggests: Continuous Project Altered Daily. This is a concept you could address in terms of Aristotles distinctions between contraries and contradictions: Some would assert that an architectural structure is either complete or incomplete, but rather than thinking in terms of such contraries, I would suggest that the same problem can be understood in terms of a contradiction. A building, then, might be considered as neither constructed or under construction but rather in a permanent phase of de-construction, or perpetually "under revision". Suddenly, cranes and scaffolding are no longer mere ugly nuissances, but rather occasions for us to perceive alternative forms of beauty and functionality, and to re-think building in terms of time in addition to eternity.

This is precisely what's going on right now with the Marriott Library, which is being modified even while it is in use. It strikes me that the A+P building might be the best place to educate the entire campus community with regard to the anti-modernist idea that finish is not the norm but rather the occasional exception, and that perpetual construction and demolition is in fact a more honest assessment of how cultures and their architecture actually live.

But to return to your own remarks, I think what you're saying about the impossibility of distinguishing between inside and outside in the Gehry house is entirely correct. This is a house while is all surface, but without any real inside or outside. This mode of construction is certainly what you see in the earlier Gehry works. By constrast, what you see in the later ones, those which made Gehry an architectural rockstar, is a different sort of confusion, or inversion: the reversal of background and foreground. Whereas /architecture/, or /space/, in the perspectival tradition, had been understood an established rational form outside of which loomed its irrational other, /cloud/; now, in Gehry's more recent works, /cloud/ is brought to the fore, while /archicture/ and /space/ are made radically to retreat and function merely as a ground against, or within, which /cloud/ can suddenly appear and hover. And, if you think about it, if not neo-mannerism, quite possibly such as reveersal could be understood as a kind of neo-baroque "theatricality" (think Fried), the kind of thing you might associate with Racine. We'll talk about this more when we get to Diderot's "Rameau's Nephew".

Finally, some images to prompt reflection:

Torelli, with some help from me.

Fontebasso, Francesco (Venice, Italy, 1707–1769)
The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, c. 1749
Oil on canvas, 46 x 59 cm

Fontebasso, Francesco (Venice, Italy, 1707–1769)
Abraham and the Three Angels, c. 1750
Pen and brown ink over black chalk, red wash heightened with white

Lucilla Catania
"Ganci, Virgole e Doppie Punte," 1996
Galleria ARTRA,
Milano, Italy

Finally, have a look at these outrageous designs by Bibena, in which /space/ and /cloud/ seem to merge together into one.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Agnes Martin (b. 1912)
Acrylic on canvas

Student 1: As I was reading The Cloud, the following phrase of Agnes Martin struck my interest. "Classists are people that look out with their back to the world/ It represents something that isn't possible in the world/ More perfection than is possible in the world/ It's as unsubjective as possible.... The point--it doesn't exist in the world." Martin never claimed to make a perfect object, but rather more perfect than that which is found in the world. Is it possible to know that their claim to perfection is in actuality true? How are we to determine that turn their back to the world is actually bringing their creations closer to perfection?

Me: I'm glad to see you lit on a provocative phrase; i.e. one just irritating enough to drive you to reflection. It seems to me that Krauss, here, is not interested in whether or not Martin, or any other classicist for that matter, ever achieved actual perfection, so much as simply the fact that these artists were in fact attempting to be utter faithful to an ahistorical ideal standard, one which simply cannot be approximated by merely copying and tinkering with external perceived reality. And of course Krauss's essay, if to nothing else, dedicates itself at least to recuperating and making explicit the logical rigor which (almost) everywhere informs Agnes Matin's works, something to which more Romantic readings of Martin have been entirely blind insofar as they have understood her work merely to reflect an interest in immediately observed and subsequently purified empirical reality. Rather than in what might be beyond the walls and window, Martin, as far as Krauss understands her, is interested in the walls and window themselves.

Student 2:
Is Krauss being objective as she reviews Martin's work?

Krauss is trying to summon all her intellectual powers to describe Martin's project as accurately possible, to reveal the system of concepts and values within which her art actually emerged. Again, others have wanted to read Martin as a romantic: perhaps highly abstract, but a lover and painter of nature nonetheless. Carter Radcliff, whom Krauss mentions in her essay, is one of these Romantics who wishes to interpret Martin as heir to the great abstract expressionist painters of the previous generation (Pollock, Rothko, Still) whose work he understood as a more abstract version of earlier American landscape painters such as Thomas Cole and Fredrick Church. Krauss, always polemical and contraversial, wants, on the other hand, to correct what she sees as a gross misunderstanding of Agnes Martin's work, reinterpreting it in much more severe and much less empirical and impressionistic terms. For Krauss, Martin's paintings are objects which cannot simply be enjoyed for there immediately beauty, but must rather be understood in formal conceptual terms. Now, Krauss argues for this position with great rigor, in an essay which requires that the reader not merely skim it casually but actually struggle to understand it. And though Krauss does indeed appear to be arguing something she actually believes, it's nevertheless interesting to note that what she in fact does is produce an interpretation of Martin's work which makes it appeaer remarkably like her own highly intellectual and not immediately or sensuously gratifying criticism. These would be then, if I understand Krauss properly, two women striving to maintain aesthetic and intellectual stances far more cold and calculating than those of any of their contemporary male rivals.

Student 3: This semester, however, i am beginning to realize that in art there can be many different meanings and even if none of them were intended by the artist, these different meanings and ideas that we can create from someone else's thoughts and creations are what make art what it is. It has become very interesting to me to look at some of the pictures people have posted on the live journal and to think about my interpretations and then read about theirs and see how they differ. Anyway, tying this back into the/cloud/, the way that her paintings were interpreted by different people and the way that i see them in my own way!

Me: That's a major part of what Kuntswollen is all about: the idea that art objects are the result of a drive internal and specific to Art in general -- understood as a progressive, dynamic force which is in no way reducible to any thematic and formal content the individual artist may have wanted to convey. This is precisely what Alois Reigl argues with respect to the emergence of deep relief in late Roman wall carvings. It's appearance is not to be attributed to any arbitrary personal choice on the part of the individual artist or even the culture, but is rather to be understood as entirely the result of a conflict intrinsic to the medium itself.

The role of the critic, according to this view, is not to reconstruct the artist's intention or meaning, or even to outline the historical development of a given style, but rather to lay out in a wholly objective manner the field of conceptual oppositions within which certain art forms could emerge. Artist statements here are in no way of any especial value and are certainly not to be taken immediately at face value. Rather, such statements provide evidence which may either corroborate or challenge the critic's construction of the semantic field in which a given body of work has emerged.

Notice, for example, how Krauss feels perfectly comfortable in declaring Agnes Martin's film Gabriel to be extraneous to her oeuvre and striking it from the record as inadmissible evidence. This rigorous formalism, which stands in militant opposition to any mere casual appreciation of a piece's 'beauty," is a wholly impersonal way of treating art object, and for that precise reason I refer to it as 'classical." And I would further suggest that Krauss writes her essay on Martin in part to place her own decidedly severe art writing within a classical tradition. Of course there is no end to the number of Krauss's detractors.

See, for instance, this patronizing article from Hilton Kramer's New Criterion (CLICK!). Not that anyone should imagine for even a second though that Krauss herself could actually give a flying fuck.

lilgrlbigcity [userpic]

Martin Luther King, Jr.
23rd annual celebration

Keynote speaker: Angela Davis
January 10, Wednesday, Noon
Olpin Union Ballroom
be there!

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

For those desperately interested, here's a pick of the first Mrs. Zizek (the kid in the film resembles her quite a bit, to my eye anyway). Renata Salecl currently teaches Criminology in The Faculty of Law at the Univeristy of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

(click the image above to watch a brief video)

I enjoyed reading Professor Salecl's first book, Perversions of Love and Hate. Apparently she has recently published a second work in English, On Anxiety.

Book Description

We frequently hear that we live in an age of anxiety, from "therapy culture," the Atkins diet and child anti-depressants to gun culture and weapons of mass destruction. While Hollywood regularly cashes in on teenage anxiety through its Scream franchise, pharmaceutical companies churn out new drugs such as Paxil to combat newly diagnosed anxieties.

On Anxiety takes a fascinating, psychological plunge behind the scenes of our panic-stricken culture and into anxious minds, asking who and what is responsible. Putting anxiety on the couch, Renata Salecl asks some much-needed questions: Is anxiety about the absence of authority or too much of it? Do the media report anxiety or create it? Are drugs a cure for anxiety or its cause? Is anxiety about being yourself or someone else, and is anxiety really the ultimate obstacle to happiness?

Drawing on vivid examples from film such as the X Files and Cyrano de Bergerac, drugs used on soldiers to combat anxiety, the anxieties of love and motherhood, and fake Holocaust memoirs, Renata Salecl argues that what really produces anxiety is the attempt to get rid of it.

Erudite and compelling, On Anxiety is essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, psychology and the cultural phenomenon of anxiety today.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Freak of Nurture [userpic]



ARTH 6810
Spring 2007 Tuesdays 2:00-5:00pm
Prof. Paul (Monty) Paret

Visual Studies is a new interdisciplinary seminar in visual culture and theory open to graduate students in the Colleges of Humanities and Fine Arts. Through key theoretical texts and a series of historical and contemporary case studies, this course will explore scholarly approaches to the production, use, interpretation and experience of images and visual representations. From the diverse material of visual culture - including the fine arts, performance, advertising and design, film, television, video and digital media - we will ask a series of interrelated questions. What is visual culture? What are the politics and poetics of vision and visuality? What is the relationship of our daily experience of visuality to the academic study of images? How does the materiality of specific visual practices effect representation and visual experience? How do different media and technologies of representation effect discourses on race, class, gender, the body, art and culture? Course content will be partly determined by the interests and background of the enrolled students.

Specific topics of research and discussion may include:
What is Visual Culture?
Why Do Images Have Power?: a pre-history of our image-driven culture
Modes of Seeing: the innocent eye?
Reading Versus Seeing
Vision and Desire
Surveillance and the Political Economy of Vision
Originals and Copies: authenticity in the visual arts
Body, Race and Representation
Performance and the Visual Arts
Museums and the Politics of Display
Visual Experience and Virtual Reality

Here are home sites for some of the leading Visual Studies programs around the world.
UC Irvine
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rocherster

The Biology of Seeing: Harvard Neuroscientist Continues Visual Studies

In her talk on October 24, Margaret Livingstone will discuss connections between neurobiology and art.

Why do certain landscapes by impressionist painters seem to glow, shimmer, or even move? Why does Leonardo DaVinci's Mona Lisa seem to be smiling, except when you look directly at her? Margaret Livingstone, professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, will explain how the brain generates such effects of color and contrast in her talk, titled "Vision and Art: Anatomy, Physiology, Painting, and Illusion" on Thursday, October 24, at 4:30 pm in the art building's Gamble Auditorium. Livingstone is the second speaker in The Culture and Nature of the Visual, the College's yearlong lecture series focusing on visual studies cosponsored by the Office of the Dean of Faculty and the Weissman Center for Leadership. On Friday, October 25, Livingstone will meet with MHC faculty members participating in the visual studies seminar and will lead a discussion about visual literacy across the curriculum.

Although still rudimentary, visual science has uncovered the most basic building blocks of vision. Scientists know, for example, that there are two distinct visual processing systems in the brain: the colorblind "where system," which perceives motion, depth, and spatial organization and is keenly sensitive to small differences in brightness, and the refined "what system," which sees color but is less sensitive to luminance contrast.

An expert in how these two visual systems process information, Livingstone connects the science of neurobiology to art, a field assumed by many to be magical, mystical, and unscientific. The shimmering effect in paintings by Claude Monet and other impressionists, she says, comes from colors that appear distinct to the dazzled what system, but become shades of gray to the black-and-white where system. The elusive, dynamic quality of Mona Lisa's smile can be explained by the fact that her smile is blurry, so is seen best by peripheral vision.

"By understanding what goes on in our brains when we look at a work of art, we can hope to deepen our appreciation of both the art and science," says David Hubel, who wrote the foreword for Livingstone's book, Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002). Hubel shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology, in part for revealing the functional organization of the visual system. Livingstone's research currently focuses on how we see depth and motion and on visual differences in people with learning disabilities.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

The Ideal Couple:
Who's Laughing Now?

Slavoj Zizek Wedding Photos
(click image for more)

Sources say the bride is the 26-year-old daughter of two Argentinian Lacanian psychoanalysts. She is also an accomplished graduate student and former underwear model.

Slavoj Zizek is a professor at the Institute for Sociology, Ljubljana and at the European Graduate School EGS who uses popular culture to explain the theory of Jacques Lacan and the theory of Jacques Lacan to explain politics and popular culture. He was born in 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia where he lives to this day but he has lectured at universities around the world. He was analysed by Jacques Alain Miller, Jacques Lacan's son in law, and is probably the most successful and prolific post-Lacanian having published over fifty books including translations into a dozen languages. He is a leftist and, aside from Lacan he was strongly influenced by Marx, Hegel and Schelling. In temperament, he resembles a revolutionist more than a theoretician. He was politically active in Slovenia during the 80s, a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990; most of his works are moral and political rather than purely theoretical. He has considerable energy and charisma and is a spellbinding lecturer in the tradition of Lacan and Kojeve. (read more)

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

The Banishing of The Wild Animal and The Rise of The Medieval Monster

With regard to the marginal drawings in 12th- and 13th-century manuscripts, I wasn't able to come up with the proper term for them while teaching the first group. But when talking with the second group it popped out of my mouth: FUNK.

Main Entry: funk 1
Pronunciation: 'f&[ng]k
Function: noun
Etymology: probably ultimately from French dialect (Picard) funquer to give off smoke
: a strong offensive smell

Main Entry: funk 2
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from obsolete Dutch dialect (Flanders) fonck
1 a : a state of paralyzing fear b : a depressed state of mind
2 : one that funks : COWARD
3 : SLUMP 1 (an economic funk) (the team went into a funk)

Main Entry: funk 3
Function: noun
Etymology: back-formation from 2funky
1 : music that combines traditional forms of black music (as blues, gospel, or soul) and is characterized by a strong backbeat
2 : the quality or state of being funky (jeans...have lost much of their funk -- Tom Wolfe)

What interested me about both the articles we read, as well as the film Mondovino, was the way all three depicted the elimination of funk from traditional culture. Now, Ivan Illich clearly laments the loss of Funk1, and perhaps Funk2, with the rise of standardized corporate culture in the shift from the age of Monasticism to the age of Scholasticism. All that was succulent, unprocessed and not immediately accessable in manuscripts, for Illich, is obliterated by the ready-made, pre-digested text. In sharp contrast to this, Michael Camille argues that as a matter of fact medieval texts, though formerly wild, don't become truly funky (i.e. funk3) until after the appearance of Scholastic innovations.

Why this pronounced difference of opinion between these two reknowned scholars? To put it quite simply, because Ivan Illich is a Marxist, whereas Michael Camille is a Post-Modernist.

As a Marxist, Illich will want to point out how the development of newer, more efficient technologies are part of an overall ideological shift, one in which immediate contact with the sensual world, as well as regional specificity, are cancelled by new media. Immediacy is replaced by mediation. Once "Wine" (or as Michel Rolland puts it, "Great Wine") is available everywhere, wine per se (whatever it may have been in the past), is now effectively dead. Of course this is pure Hegel. Wine, the very thing in itself, must be destroyed so that it can reappear in a sublimated form, as the pure semblance of its former self. Illich represents the renaissance of the 12th-century as a historical analogue to the rise of industrialism, which entail mass-production and distribution of immediately recognizable and consumable commodities. Capitalism, according to the view, offers a brave new world of efficiency and satisfaction upon demand. All of the labor which before was such an integral part of consumption, and which offered the consumer perhaps the greatest source of pleasure, has now been effectively eliminated, or at least relegated to the factories and slums. and kept out of sight. All of the funk (the sweat, the grit, the accidents and failures, the guts, and the authenticity) have vanished from everyday life.

Camille, on the other hand, as a Post-Modernist, is not as overtly at war with Capitalist expansion as is Illich. From a post-modern perspective, there has never been a time when art, or folk culture for that matter, has been free of commerce. Post-modernist thought does not openly accept the bourgeois fantasy of capitalism. Certainly, few practicing post-modernism could identify with the bourgeois lifestyle of the Staglin family. And yet there is somethng tremendously signficant about Shari. Stanglin's collection of objets d'art, to which she describes as example of "California Funk Art". If very difficult for me to look at the Staglin family's immaculately groomed line and not think of the leveled and regularized surface of the Scholastic text, a visual as opposed to tactile space, created specifically by liquidating all traces of the long tradition of monastic connoiseurship of the spoken word. And if the Staglin family's estate does indeed resemble the ordinatio of the medieval manuscript, then how are we then to perceive the funky sculptures by Robert Arneson and Viola Frey, both of whom have works on display here on our own campus at the Utah Museum of Fine Art? (Is there as possible final-paper topic in this for any of you?) What are these kooky images on the edge of the Staglin Estate if not contemporary equivalents to the medieval "babewyns" which so fascinate Camille? Post-modern art criticism, though it is by no means a celebration of Capitalism, nevertheless takes tremendous interest is the irregular, bizarre and hybrid forms of culture expression which arise as the veritable symptoms of a society characterized by total mobility and in which tradition exists exclusively in the form of an insubstantial simulacrum, the Tradition. According to this view of things, it is only once Capitalism and middle-brow have been firmly established that funk can irrupt startlingly, monstrously onto the scene. But not in the old sense of the term. What was once crusted in funk, in post-modern times has now become "funky," in quotation marks. The immediate and authentic has been displaced by the wittily, self-consciouly mediated. Whereas formly funk might have been associated with savages and wild animals, now it the definitive mark of the shocking hybrids and monstrosities.

To sum up then, when confronted with the very same cultural objects and situation, the Marxist historian will lament the loss of funk, while the Post-Modern scholar will celebrate is sudden and outrageous efflorescence.

The Staglin Family Villa
Napa, California
Marc LaRoche Architects

Katie Lynn [userpic]


angrythoreauan [userpic]

October 23-25, 2006

All sessions are plenary and (except for the first and last lectures at the UMFA) take place at the University of Utah Alumni House at 155 S. Campus Drive, Northeast of Olpin Union. Parking for off-campus guests is available in the Alumni House lot.

LeviathanMonday October 23, 2006
8:00 p.m. Opening Keynote Address by Rachel Falconer, Reader in English Literature, the School of English, University of Sheffield, England, “Why the Idea of Hell Seduces Us (and Whether We Should or Shouldn’t Resist)” Dumke Auditorium, Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Tuesday October 24, 2006
9:00-10:00 a.m. Conference Opening Welcome; Keynote Address by Stephen F. Teiser, Department of Religion, Princeton University: “Floragenesis: Why Babies are Reborn in Flowers in the Buddhist Pure Land” Alumni House, University of Utah, 155 S Campus Dr, NE of Olpin Union

10:15-11:45 a.m.
Session 1: Setting Up Hell: Affirmation and Denials
Edward Wright, Judaic Studies, University of Arizona, “The Creation of Hell in the Jewish Tradition”
Jeffrey Trumbower, Religious Studies, St. Michael’s College, “Early Visions of Hell as a Place of Education and Conversion”
Isabel Moreira, Department of History, University of Utah, “Hell, Purgatory, and the Negotiation of Salvation”

11:45-12:45 p.m. break

1:00-2:00 p.m. DemonSession 2: Setting Up Hell: Medieval Debates
Alan E. Bernstein, Department of History, University of Arizona, “Hell from Penance to Apocalypse in Western Europe Around the Year 1000”
Walid Saleh, Centre for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, “Hell in Mirabilia Literature of Medieval Islam
Maria Dobozy, German, Languages and Literature, University of Utah, "The Causes of Lucifer's Fall: A Burlesque Dialog in German World Chronicles"

2:45-4:15 p.m.
Session 3: Family and Gender Dynamics in Hell
Alan Cole, Religious Studies and East Asian Studies, Lewis and Clark College, “Family is Hell: Fleshly Moraility and The Symbolic Order of the Netherworld in Medieval Chinese Buddhism”
Zhiru Ng, Religious Studies, Pomona College, “Filial Daughters in Buddhist Afterlife Practice in Late Medieval China”
Margaret Toscano, Classics; Languages and Literature, University of Utah, “Love is Hell: Torment as Redemption in the Cupid and Psyche Myth”

Session 4: Hell in Pop Culture [Audio-Visual Presentations]
Sharon Swenson, Film Studies,Theatre, and Media, Brigham Young University, “Hell on Screen: Contemporary Guardian Devils”
Charles King, Classics, and History, University of Nebraska Omaha, “What If It’s Just Good Business? Hell, Business Models and the Dilution of Justice in Mike Carrey’s Lucifer”


Wednesday October 25, 2006
9.00-10.00 a.m. Keynote Address: Fernando Cervantes, Department of Historical Studies, University of Bristol “Devils Conquering and Conquered: Changing Visions of Hell in Spanish America” Alumni House, University of Utah, 155 S Campus Dr, NE of Olpin Union

10:15-11:45 a.m.
Session 5: Early Modern Europe
Peter Marshall, Department of History, University of Warwick, “Catholic and Protestant Hells in Later Reformation England”
Megan Armstrong, Department of History, McMaster University, “A Franciscan Kind of Hell: Torture, Love and Redemption in Reformation Sermons”
Craig Koslofsky, Department of History, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, “Ghosts and the Darkness of Hell”

12:00-1:00 p.m.
Session 6: Hell and Visual Culture East and West
Alfred Acres, Department of Art History, Georgetown University, “Ambient Evil: In and Out of Renaissance Painting”
Boreth Ly, Department of Art and Art History, University of Utah, "Are There Representations of Hell in Hindu Arts of Southeast Asia?"

1:00-2:00 p.m. break Demon2

2:15 -3:45 p.m.
Session 7: Literary Hell
Vincent J. Cheng, Department of English, University of Utah, “James Joyce and the Hellmouth”
Jennifer Fraser, Department of English, St. Michael’s University School, “Infernal Romance and the Hell of the Modernist Marriage”
Disa Gambera, Department of English, University of Utah, "Sin City: Dante's Inferno as Urban Space

4:00-6:00 p.m.
Session 8: Contemporary American Dialogues (Roundtable Discussion)Evangelical Christian: John Sanders, Visiting Professor at Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas, “The Nature and Population of Hell in Evangelical Theology”
Mormon: Brian Birch, Humanities and Philosophy, Utah Valley State College, “An Analysis of Latter-day Saint Conceptions of Damnation”
Catholic: Henry Ansgar Kelly, Department of English, UCLA, “Hell and the Three Limbos”
Jewish: Rabbi Tracee Rosen, Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City, Utah, "Gey Hinnom: the development of Jewish concepts of punishment and the afterlife"

8:00 PM UMFA Dumke Auditorium
The 2006 Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture, presented byNational Book Award Winner Carlos Eire,
Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University,
and author of Waiting for Snow in Havana (2003)

“Spiritual Apartheid: Protestantism and the Reformation of the Hereafter”

The Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture is sponsored by

The Sterling M. McMurrin Lecture Fund and Planning Committee.


University of Utah College of Humanities Professors Isabel Moreira (History) and Margaret Toscano (Languages & Literature) would like to thank the following conference co-sponsors for their generous support of “Hell and Its Afterlife:”

Katie Lynn [userpic]

Women in prison: Even jailed, girls can be girls
Corrections culture shift: Female inmates stand to benefit from gender-focused approach
Article Last Updated:10/02/2006 01:32:38 AM MDT
Click photo to enlarge
Inmates in the Star 4 section laugh as they plan their weekly... (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune)
In prison, lipstick is more than a concoction of wax and oil that glides on a woman's full, shapely lips.
   Ruby Rush, Latte Lush and Cocoa Delicious are shades of feminism, a woman's link to her inner self. Lipstick distinguishes her in a place that is otherwise drab and gray, making her feel human, even sexy, while she bides her time before she can rejoin the outside world.
   Finally, men get it.
   After more than a century of treating men and women the same, the male-dominated prison system is bucking its "an inmate is an inmate" ideology and acknowledging that men and women are, well, different.
   From allowing women to dabble in cosmetics to redesigning their prison uniforms, the Utah Department of Corrections is changing its whole approach to how it treats the women.
   Women can now wear lipstick - and foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow and mascara, all available through the commissary. They can even order women's shoes, in women's sizes, instead of having to stumble around in men's shoes.
   For Julia Higbee, who is serving time for forging checks, it means the difference between feeling depressed and confident.
   Without makeup, "I felt so ugly, so degraded," she said.
   Sports bras - the commissary has them. And feminine products, once only available through the prison store, are now distributed to all


of the inmates, on the state's dime.
   A new burgundy uniform resembling medical scrubs likely will be distributed to the gals within the next couple of months. Right now, women wear the same white uniform as the men. Some have complained their feminine pads could be seen through the pants.
   "A male's white uniform usually doesn't do a lot for their dignity and self-respect," said Corrections spokesman Jack Ford.
   Even the prison's Corrections officers are being trained in how women think.
   Lt. Chad Skinner, who works at the Draper prison, said this training has bettered his relationship with his wife.
   "You're a better man, you're a better husband, a better dad," his wife told him. "You listen better."
   Prison administrators say there are important reasons for the cultural change.
   For one, there are more women in prison. While 570 are locked up in Utah - they make up about 9.5 percent of the inmate population - their numbers are growing. And fast.
   The number of incarcerated women is growing at more than double the rate of men, a phenomenon that is mirroring trends nationally, said Deputy Warden Lee Liston. Between 2004 and 2005 alone, the women's population swelled by 18 percent, while the men's population grew by only 3.5 percent, he said.
   "There are obviously still more men than women but it has caught everyone's attention," he said.
   Women land behind bars for different reasons than do men, said Capt. Robert Powell. By the time they're convicted of a crime - typically a drug-related offense - most women have survived poverty and abuse, and struggled with a drug addiction.
   Among women who use drugs, 30 percent to 59 percent of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the National Institute of Corrections.
   As a result, Corrections officers are now focusing on making the women feel emotionally safe, as well as teaching them self-respect and dignity.
   For some of the women, "This is the first time they've ever had respect shown towards them," Powell said.
   Cindy Johnson, who is serving five years to life in prison for first-degree murder, has scars that stretch from her wrists to her elbows from self-inflicted wounds. The women, she said, have taken notice of the way Corrections officers are treating them.
   "They take time to talk to us on a one-on-one basis," she said. "They know when to take off the badge and just be one-on-one with us. We choose to act differently to them because they treat us with respect."
   Being gender-responsive entails Corrections officers explaining orders (women want to know why they're being told to do something) and not always using the same level of assertiveness.
   Before a recent visit by members of a chamber of commerce, for example, Powell asked both the men and women inmates to tidy up their cells and living quarters. The men did as they were told. The women, however, wanted to know more about the chamber of commerce and the purpose of its visit.
   Powell spent more than 20 hours putting together a PowerPoint presentation on the topic. The women, in turn, not only cleaned their cells, but took the initiative to organize a panel with whom the chamber members could interact.
   "All I wanted was my floors waxed," Powell quipped.
   Liston said there has been a noticeable decline in disciplinary problems. The women's units, which a year ago had the highest number of disciplinary problems - even more than maximum security - are down by a third.
   "They never were harder, they were just different and we didn't know how to apply that," he said. "In the [outside] world, women have to learn how men communicate. In prison, it's the other way."

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"he could still smell the sulfur"

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"Faith, Reason and the University:
Memories and Reflections"

Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg
Tuesday, 12 September 2006

. . . The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant's "Critiques", but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature's capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology's claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. . . . (Read entire lecture here.)

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Some more very brief thoughts on what the other day I called "incisive" or "indexical" sound compositions, which do not attempt to orchestrate tone within time signatures or harmonic structures, so much as use sounds to carve into reality. Now that I've done a bit more thinking are reading, I'm tempted to call this sort of expression "ichnotics"

Ichnotaxon: (plural ichnotaxa) Defined by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature as "a taxon based on the fossilized work of an organism". Ichnotaxa are names used to identify and distinguish morphologically distinctive trace fossils. They are assigned genus and species ranks by ichnologists, much like organisms in Linnaean taxonomy. These are known as ichnogenera and ichnospecies, respectively. Ichnotaxa include trace fossils such as burrows, borings and etchings, tracks and trackways, coprolites, gastroliths, regurgitaliths, nests, leaf mines, and bite and gnaw structures, as well as secretions such as eggs, cocoons, pupal cases, spider webs, embedment structures and plant galls.

Ichnology: The branch of paleontology that deals with plant and animal traces. These traces are useful because they often hint at the behavior of the organism. The division of ichnology dealing with trace fossils is paleoichnology, while neoichnology is the study of modern traces. Parallels can often be drawn between modern traces and trace fossils, helping scientists to decode the possible behavior and anatomy of the trace-leaving organisms if no body fossils can be found. In a case in which there are trace fossils but no body fossils to represent a given species, an ichnospecies is erected. Ichnotaxa follow different rules in zoological nomenclature than do normal taxa (see trace fossil classification for more information). Ichnological studies are based off of the discovery and analysis of biogenic structures: features caused by an organism while it was still living. Therefore, burrows, tracks, trails and borings are all examples of biogenic structures. A cast or a mold of a dead organism's body is not an examples of a biogenic structure and is therefore non-important to the study of ichnology.
(read more here)

Dinosaur Tracks
Kanab, UT

So, finally, my thought is this: that perhaps there is far too much concern with psychology and meaning in Art History. What if we were to conceive, if only by way of thought experiment, a completely different attitude toward art. Is it possible to imagine a theory of human intervention, of human expression, not based on any assumptions regarding intentional acts and the creative urge, but rather dedicated to studying and classifying the various ways in which our species has stained and wounded the earth? Could such a field of inquiry be considered a branch of Art History. If so, why? How might a scholar working in such a field help us to view established masterpieces differently? For what it's worth, below is an imagine which featured in one of the finest photography exhibits I have every attended, this particular show taking place at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. Very strange to see ariel photographs of the destruction of the Utah landscape in a major museum in our nation's capitol.

Emmet Gowin
American (1941-)
Copper Ore Tailing, Globe, Arizona, 1988
split toned gelatin silver print
24.1 x 24.3 cm.

By the way, just so you know that in fact I'm not just making this stuff up, have a look at this recent award-winning study by UC Berkeley Art Historian, Whitney Davis.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"On the other hand, it is quite true that the Christians accused some Gnostic sects of their own of Ass-Worship, and, it appears, with full justification. The supreme spirit is called Onoel (ass + God) by the Gnostics."

-- On-Line Jewish Encyclopedia

Recall that I'm sharing this music stuff with you not just for its own sake (though I find it truly important), but in order to help you better understand Augustine.

Which means that you can never take the drive toward literalism seriously enough. This is exactly what other writers in Augustine's day were doing - indulging in either excessive literalness (Cyprian), or excessive figurativeness (Hermeticists and possibly Tychonius), or the excessive worship of indecent ass-headed gods (the Gnostics). And we simply won't understand Augustine's resistance to these notions and practices, or his specific strategy in correcting them, unless we're willing to try to fit our minds (yoga-like) into those positions to which Augustine constitutues a very particular alternative.

Exhibit A (below), from a great American artist whose Spiral Jetty, arguably the most important sculpture of the last fifty years, was performed right here in Utah. Be sure to notice how, in this kind of postmodern performance, not just the production of the object, but also the recording of its production, is absolutely essential. Here in the work of Smithson, as well as that of various of his colleague and contemporaries, we see a major moment in an ongoing process, begun by Marcel Duchamp, of radical critique of the Museum, as a cultural institution. What Duchamp and Smithson have discovered is that the Museum does not simply house art, but veritably creates it. Whatever something may have been beforehand, once it has been placed on a pedestal and declared Beautiful, it will never again be the same. (For better or worse, now that the piece has been acquired by the Dia Art Foundation, the site, once strewn with the carcasses of an old mobile home and an abandoned amphibious vehicle, has been restored to its pristine "original" state.)

One final thought, perhaps incidentally related to the notion of Gnostic Ass-Worship: as you look at the dump truck below, ask yourself this: what relationship might it bear to Duchamp's infamous toilet? I'll give you this hint: Smithson was fascinated not only by Utah's landscape but also but its dinosaurs, which he viewed as enormous earth-moving machines. And if you can follow me this far, what do you imagine I see when I look at the massive brown coil which is Spiral Jetty? An example of pure Beauty? Not that your Art History teacher, or the Utah Bureau of Tourism for that matter, would necessarily like my interpretation of Smithson's greatest masterpiece. But frankly, students, I don't give a ****!

* * *

Robert Smithson
"Asphalt Run Down"

(click on the image above to watch some cool videos of his work.)

Katie Lynn [userpic]

The UofU's response. Good for them.

Response to Utah Supreme Court Decision on Guns on Campus

Media Contacts

September 8, 2006 -

We are disappointed with the Utah Supreme Court's decision but recognize that this resolves the state issues we raised in filing our suit. This case was initially filed in Federal court, and Federal constitutional issues remain. The University was instructed by the federal court to submit the state law issues to the Utah courts, and to notify the federal court once the state issues were resolved. We intend to notify the judge of the outcome of this decision. Our only goal from the beginning has been to keep our students safe. Universities across the country uniformly prohibit guns on campus.   

We hope that, following review of this case in federal court, the issue will be resolved to uphold our long-standing policy of keeping firearms off campus. The University"s concern throughout this dispute has been to maintain our campus as a safe learning environment where students and faculty can do their work without a threat to their safety and well-being.


Katie Lynn [userpic]


She taught these parrots a lost language, that at one time the speakers of had taught to their parrots.


If anyone else missed her (she came for the science and literature conference last year), now you know. Thanks Megan and Becky for letting me know about this. So awesome!

Freak of Nurture [userpic]


Because we've already covered such complex materials in such a short time (50-minute sessions are way too brief!), because I can't recall entirely what I said to which of my two class, and also because review and clarification are always necessary; let me review a bit of what went on in class today.

Recall that we began the semester by discussing the notion of the canon and 'canonicity'. One of the key reasons I've asked you to read Kant is so that you could begin to see the important role he plays in the formation of the secular literary (and artistic) canon. Prior to Kant, there certainly was a scriptural canon (the books of the Bible) in place within Christianity, though these books were themselves subjected to scrutiny and debate far more often, and far earlier, than most people would image. Return, for example, to what Novalis says about "another alien, earthly science - philology - interested with religious concerns, and [whose] corrosive (which is to say 'negative') influence has been unmistakeable ever since." Certainly, before Kant there was a wide variety of ancient and modern writers who were thought to be either important or at least a good read. But ultimately, when it came to literature, each person was entitled to read or admire whatever book or painting they as private individuals found either delightful or instructive.

We might put it this way: prior to Kant, or at least in his day, most (secular) authors had learned to speaking pleasantly, intelligently and usefully, but they had not yet learned to speak with a voice capable of rising the the spiritual heights of scriptures - wherein the text cares neither to delight nor instruct, but simply pronounces powerfully, universally, that "I AM." It occurs to me that this notion is central to Novalis' project, which is to renovate the Christian spirit of a fragmented Europe by causing them to see that what scripture true is not its historical or prognostic veracity so much as the authority of the voice which speaks it. It is not that Novalis' "new age" really will dawn as he says it will, but rather that the power which such a pure fantasy exerts of a reader will cause that reader, in responding, to discover a lost sense of deep spiritual feeling. What Novalis predicts about the future, then, will in fact occur in the present, to the extent that his words resound with prophetic authority.

I hope I was able to make clear with regard to our discussion of canon formation and revision that, when it comes to distinguishing art from junk, Kant has raised the stakes immensely. If the modern institution known as the Museum had existed in Kant's day, much of what was displayed within would have lost almost all its value after Kant had spoken. In fact, however, the Museum as we now know it arose in response to Kant's writings (as well as those of his Romantic followers) on Spirituality and Art. For the first time, Taste was no longer simply a material of private interests but rather became intimately related to public morality - which entails not simply instruction but actual 'consciousness raising'. Again, it is absolutely essential to understand that this is not at all because art tells us what to do to be good people, for that would be mere formulaic indoctrination, or 'programming' of the kind we see everywhere today in the form of self-help, pop-psychology and guides to 'painting like the old masters'. Instead, Kant insists that true art functions as a pure 'symbol of morality' specifically because its perfect independence from heteronomy (external motivations and influences) allows it start forth as an objective example of subjective autonomy; i.e., the freedom and dignity of human liberated from enslavement to both natural law and authoritarian pronouncements. Art is great, not because of its immediate utility, but rather specifically because of futility, its gratuitousness. It exists for nothing beyond itself, but is in fact a free-standing end unto itself. We might very well go on to say that it was in the age of Kant, and to a very great extent as a direct result of his writings, that European culture began for the very first time to place a high premium on "originality" and "authenticity" in artistic expression.

An object achieves its character as genuine art, then, specifically by freeing itself from all external determinants (any sort of "how to" manual) and rejecting even the need to copy really existent referent (that object which the art proposes to represent). Consquently, art is obligated to furnish a law unto itself; it has no directives to follow other than concerns regarding pure form. Analogously, human reason is able to achieve freedom and dignity to the extent that it is able to constitute for itself a system of laws which are not imposed upon it by arbitrary, private and pre-existing institutions. Human reason, and directly essentially toward freedom, must legislate a constitution of universal scope. And human freedom will defend itself, as well as this constiution, not through immediate obedience to authoritarian mandates but rather through continuous self-scrutiny. Freedom is preserved and expanded through an eternal process of legislation and ammendment.

To return to the realm of art and literature, that art will be great which does not derive from any formula for how to make it or what it is supposed to mean. Great art never results from clear rational planning and careful execution. That would be merely craft. Genuine art much result from the flashes of insight and inspiration generally attributed to the "genuis", who produces art spontaneously and seemingly without effort, as if nature herself were creating miraculously through the artist's hands. Further, though the true genius may well produce art which is universally acclaimed to be great (specifically because it pleases no one!), this does not in the least entail that this same genius can explain how the work was done. To the extent that we are able to reconstruct mechanically the steps and procedures followed by an artist in creating a singular object or achieving a striking effect, we explain away the aesthetic virtue of the object and reduce to mere "craftwork". (Click HERE for sound file.)

The role of the critical philosopher and the genuine art critic, then, according to Kant, will not be simply to loudly extol the art and literature we have inheritted from the past for indeed being truly great, beautiful and virtuous, but rather to test all works of art rigorously and determine the extent to which the public has been duped into believing that something traditionally, or recently for that matter, considered to be a genuine and unique expression of the human soul is in the final analysis actually a derivative and meretricious piece of crap.

As I mentioned earlier, it's pretty easy to see her how Kant has raised the stakes immensely when it comes to the determining the value of a work of art. In fact, one might go so far as to say that Kant has elevated the demands we place on a work of art so high that he offers us little more than an impossible ideal. And this may well be the case, because finally Kant's project of Enlightment is committed to ridding thought and culture from any and every delusion, until finally we are made to stand on our own feet. One may well say that this goal of achieving complete enlightenment is also an impossible project. And Kant himself would heartily agree, saying that human perfection is an infinite task.

But specifically because this task is impossible according to the laws governing the experience of Nature, it becomes (especially for Romantics like Novalis) all the more noble. The eternal struggle to overcome one's own ignorance and imperfection is the very means by which Humanity transcends determination by either nature or the necessary conclusions of pure reason. Through struggle to overcome ourselves we begin for the first time to experience pure freedom, which a prior (from the very beginning) is our destiny. For Kant, it is not because we can become free that we are obligated to do so. Instead, the reverse is true. It is precisely because we are commanded, a priori by an internal spiritual law to become free, that we determine that we must. This inversion of the natural order (i.e., "Negativity"), is the very stuff of Kant's general philosophy, which is known as Transcendental Idealism - a mode of thought and standard of conduct according to which any degree of success must be understood as intimately linked and and previously conditioned by impossibility and failure which was constantly strive to master.

The question we might ask ourselves now is this: to what extent do impossibility, failure, the supernatural and overcoming inform and figure into the fanastic view of the Middle Ages offered by Novalis? To what extent has Novalis grasped the importance which inculculable risk, frustration, passion and sacrifice play in Kant's view of art and life? Does Novalis live up to Kant's expectations, or does he overstep the mark? What do you think now?

Edmund Blair Leighton
The Accolade

Total Price: $79.95
Sold Elsewhere: $116.00
You Save: 31%

Readings for next Monday:

Immanuel Kant - "An Answer to the Question, 'What is Enlightenment?'"

Novalis - "Faith and Love; or, King and Queen"

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"Up-to-Date With a Vengeance":
Nineteenth-Century Science, Technology, and Media

April 19-21, 2007, University of Missouri-Kansas City
22nd Annual Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference

Call for Papers

This conference will explore the thoroughly modern forms of communication, technological development, and scientific discovery that emerged in the period. We also encourage investigations of twenty-first century scientific and technological legacies and media representations of nineteenth-century subjects.

Topics might include:

* Inventions: Telegraphs, Electric Lights, Typewriters, Railroads & Other New Forms of Transportation
* Print Culture: Scientific Periodicals, Political Pamphlets, Illustrated Newspapers, & Penny Magazines
* The "Pseudo-Sciences": Phrenology, Physiognomy, & Eugenics
* Technology & Empire
* Amateur Scientists, Scientific Tourism, & Collectors
* Botany & Geology; Darwin & Evolution Controversies
* Innovation & Popular Entertainment; Photography, Magic Lantern Shows, & Moving Pictures
* Gendered Uses of Technology
* Science Fiction; Responses to "Modernity" in Literature & Art
* Nursing, Medicine, & Psychology
* The "Nineteenth-Century Up-to-Date" in Recent Film & Fiction

Longer versions of INCS conference papers are regularly published in the affiliated Nineteenth- Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

Send 250-500 word abstracts in .pdf or .doc format by December 1, 2006 to incs2007@umkc.edu.

Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information within that document, as well as within the body of your email.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Hi, Robert,

Sorry to have run off on you. I ended up needing to run out and conspicuously consume some mushroom canalones and a big bottle of Veronese wine. Bummer.

With regard to your first question, it's hard to answer you precisely, because there are various opinions regarding the extent to which culture is either expressive or determinative of what is happening on the genetic level. Someone like Dawkins would argue that everything is entirely determined by the genes themselves. For him, the cult of bling would be just one other form of sexual display (of the sort Darwin discusses in The Descent of Man), which is the cumulative result of of hundreds of tiny variations in the optical apparatus such that certain patterns and intensities of light capture the interest of a potential mate. And all of this takes place merely to ensure the survival of DNA. I've heard some researchers go so far as to say that the evolution of intelligence was simply the emergence of one more variable which might make a prospective mate potentially more attractive. On the other hand, you've got someone like E. O. Wilson who argues for an "dual inheritance" theory, which states that individuals are determined not only by their genetic makeup but also by the social environment, and that not only individuals but also cultures evolve and determine the shape of individuals. This line of thought is most likely traceable back to Durkheim, and before him August Comte, who with regard to development (both successful and arrested), makes the clearest analogy between organic bodies and organic societies. I've been reading just now the popularization of Comte by G. H. Lewes, George Eliot's partner. All this stuff is very much a part of Victorian science and politics, especially as it appears in the work of Eliot's friend Herbert Spencer. And of course you can imagine Marx was deeply influence by Comte's thinking. Perhaps one the sources of reaction against Wilson much more recent work is that fact that it bears this 19th-century taint.

Most of what I know about conspicuous consumption comes either from Veblen or Bataille. In Veblen conspicous display is tied to social status, but toward conservative ends. That might tie in to what Darwin is arguing. Whereas in Bataille, whose work seems greatly influenced by Freud's writings on the drives (which are even more deeply conservative), conspicous display and expenditure is motivated not be a desire to progress but rather to regress to a previous stage of being. Thus, all culture, for Freud, and also for Bataille, would to one extent or another be in service of the death drive, would aim at returning the organic back into the inorganic.

I don't know what to say about the possibility of a Foucault-based approach to wildlife management, because I don't know much about wildlife managment. Off hand, it seems to me that for all Foucault talks about bio-politics, he's essentially interested exclusively in the historical creation of a universal human nature, that he's essentially only interested in culture. As close as he will come to something which might interest you would be the section in the Order of Things in which he discusses the rise of modern biology. Much more in line with your needs and interests would be the work of Deleuze and Guattari. For all the mutual admiration which existed between Foucult and Deleuze, Deleuze was doing something rather different, attempting to get much further beyond the pale of the Human. I think what would serve you best would be the discussions of wildness, multiplicity, rhizomatics and fugitive (as opposed to centripetal) forms of life, which can be found in 1000 Plateaus. That section on natural systems of classification, which we had intended to read, is exactly that kind of thing I have in mind. Deleuze, there, is attempting to think of nature and reproduction in terms radically other than those of organicism and lineal descent, both of which, for him and Guattari, still smack too much of the old Kantian notion of a free beauties adequated to the gaze of a detached spectator, too much of "Oedipus" and the concept of Nature as a self-regulating State. It seems that Deleuze, more than anyone, would be able to help you articulate a view of nature and wilderness which did not presuppose these concepts and their attendent values.

With respect to wildness in anti-utopian novels, that seems to be a fairly fundamental scheme--the unique individual who would rather be crushed that assimilated into the larger social organism. You'll find this theme across an array of authors raging from the radical (Nietzsche) to the ultra-conservative (Rand). It pops up too, as you saw in Phillie, in more recent writers such as Kerouac, Burroughs and even Foucault's editions of autobiographies of matricides and hermaphrodites. I'm not sure, off hand, what you could say about that which might be especially new. But that's perhaps the specific challenge ahead of you, to produce fresh version of the age-old myth of the "outlaw". Or, considering that Oedipus himself was an incestuous murder, to put paid to that myth and our fetishistic fascination with criminality once and for all.

Good luck with it, yo.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Segolene Royal Comes 6th In Sexiness Poll

PARIS, June 13, 2006 (AFP) - Segolene Royal, the Socialist tipped to become France's first female president, has been rated one of the world's sexiest women, according to a survey in a French men's magazine released Tuesday.

The 52-year-old politician took a sizzling sixth place in the 100-spot FHM ranking, beating the top models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and the big-screen beauties Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Monica Bellucci.

The Socialist Party (PS) politician -- a mother of four whose partner is PS first secretary Francois Hollande -- came in just two places below the US movie siren Angelina Jolie.

(Full story.)

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"To recognize one's own in the alien, to become at home in it, is the basic movement of spirit, who being consists only in returning to itself from what is other. Hence all theoretical Bildung, even acquiring foreign languages and conceptual worlds, is merely the continuation of a process of Bildung that begins much earlier. Every single individual who raises himself out of his natural being to the spritual finds in the language, customs, and institutions of his people a pre-given body of material which, as in learning to speak, he has to make his own. Thus every individual is always involved in the process of Bildung and in getting beyond his naturalness, inasmuch as the world into which he is growing is one that is humanly constituted through language and custom. Hegel emphasized that a people gives its existence in its world. It works out from itself and thus exteriorizes what it is in itself. . . .

We must realize that the idea of perfect Bildung remains a necessary ideal even for the historical sciences that depart from Hegel. For Bildung is the element in which they move. Even what earlier usage, with reference to physical appearance, called the 'perfection of form' is not so much that last state of development as teh mature state that has left all development behind and makes possible the harmonious movement of all the limbs. Its is precisely in the sense that the human sciences [psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, et alia] presuppose that the scholarly consciousness is already formed and for that very reason possesses the right, unlearnable, and inimitable tact that envelops the human sciences' form of judgment and mode of knowledge as if it were the element in which they move.

The way that Helmholtz describes how the human sciences work, especially what he calls artistic feeling and tact, in fact presupposes this element of Bildung, within which the mind has a special free mobility. Thus Helmholtz speaks of the 'readiness with which the most varied experiences must flow in the memory of the historian or philologist.' That may seem to be a description from the an external viewpoint: namely, the idaeal of the 'self-conscious work of drawing iron-clad conclusions,' according to which the natural scientist convinces himself. The concept of memory as he uses it, is not sufficient to explain what is involved here. In fact, this tact or feeling is not rightly understood if one thinks of it as a supervening mental competence which uses a powerful memory and so arrives at cognitive results that cannot be rigorously examined. What makes tact possible, what leads to its acquisition and possession, is not merely a piece of psychological equipment that is propitious to knowledge in the human sciences.

Moreover, the nature of memory is not rightly understood if it is regarded as merely a general talent or capacity. Keeping in mind, forgetting, and recalling belong to the historical constitution of man and are themselves part of his history and his Bildung. Whoever uses his memory as a mere faculty--and any 'technique' of memory is such a use--does not yet possess it as something that is absolutely his own. Memory must be formed; for memory is not memory for anything and everything. One has a memory for some things, and not for others; one wants to preserve one thing in memory and banish another. It is time to rescue the phenomenon of memory from being regarded merely as a psychological faculty and to see it as an essential element of the finite historical being of man. In a way that has long been unsufficiently noticed, forgetting is closely related to keeping in mind and remembering; forgettting is not merely an absence and a lack but, as Nietzsche in particular pointed out, a condition of the life of mind. Only by forgetting does the mind have the possibility of total renewal, the capacity to see everything with fresh eyes, so that what was long familiar fuses with the new into a many-leveled unity."

--Hans-Georg Gadamer, "The Significance of The Humanist Tradition"

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

"Much effort is expended on a few figures who contributed to the theorectical controversies: Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, and the diluvian geologists are the subjects of a considerable and growing literature. Some authors are now endeavoring to show how atypical, and in some respects uninfluential, these men may have been in the mainstream development of geology. But as in other areas of the history of science, the mainstream itself has been little studied. The great mass of books, maps, and memoirs, including those produced by figures of the first rank, remain unused, unread and little understood."

-- James Secord, Controversy in Victorian Geology

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

OK, nevermind.
I take back what I said earlier.
Outta here.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Paolo Freire -- Pedagogy of The Oppressed

Trashing of the Amazon continues -- highest year of forest destruction on record. 19-05-2005

"Problem Posing"

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Quarry For Middlemarch
Eliot George
ed. by Anna Theresa Kitchel.

Book-On-Demand Reprint from edition originally published: Berkeley Univ. of California Press 1950.
BRAND NEW SOFTCOVER - Print-to-order B&W REPRINT of original book published: Berkeley Univ. of California Press 1950.
80 Pages Reprinted from microfilm of original text on acid-free archival quality paper -
SOFTCOVER Charts photographs & graphics may reproduce less than perfectly & may be reduced to fit pages.
SPECIAL ORDER Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.


Freak of Nurture [userpic]

LDS Authority and Gay Marriage

Salt Lake Tribune
Prof. Jeffrey Nielsen
Dept. of Philosophy, Brigham Young University

The leaders of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently spoke out against gay marriage and asked members to encourage their U.S. senators to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting homosexual marriage.

As a member, I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as LDS general authorities; however, I reject the premise that they are thereby immune from thoughtful questioning or benevolent criticism. A perfect God does not require blind obedience, nor does He need unthinking loyalty. Freedom of conscience is a divine blessing, and our privilege to express it is a moral imperative.

When the church hierarchy speaks on a public issue and requests that members follow, it is difficult indeed if an individual feels the content of their message would make bad law and is unethical as well. I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral.

(Read more.)

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

I tried to watch this last night. I got about 45 minutes into it and just had to turn the shit off. The film is appalling bad, and Ry Cooder comes off looking like an absolute buffoon. His guitar playing, not to mention his mere physical presence, is wholly intrusive and both aesthetically and politically unconscionable--a huge white thumb. When some fat middle-aged American plows electric slide guitar (presumably Hawaiian) directly over what otherwise would have been elegant and charming calypso, that's not cross-over or multi-culturalism; it's cultural genocide. Of course the Cubans laugh and slap him on the back. It's part of the gig. But I wonder if they wouldn't like to be smacking the hijo de puta just a little harder.

For what it's worth, pianist Ruben Gonzales is the best, perhaps the only, good part of the film. What was, sadly, priceless for me was seeing this debonair older gentleman look up from his piano in utter horror and disbelief when, in the middle of a chromatic run combining the best of Chopin and Monk, Cooder and his electric wah-wah suddenly drive up onto his musical beach like a bunch of Marines in amphibious vehicles.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Commerades, with regard to our little arete_uofu, I really had thought das Spiel war aus.

Aber nicht!

I'm glad to report that sources indicate a resurgence of interest,
perhaps due to our recent turn toward epistemological and scientific writings.
In any case, if we want to maintain and exploit this recent surge of momentum,
we'll need to pick a meeting time as soon as possible: i.e., some time next week.

Please, if you're reading this, please respond and please indicate a preference regarding the time of our next meeting. My thought is next Monday. Let's just assume, for the sake of covenience, that we'll meet at 7 pm at my place.

FYI: Current Readings: (CLICK!)

Thanks for your interest, support and participation.

It is necessary to draw what at first glance seems a paradoxical, yet crucial conclusion: today the concept of utopia has made an about-face turn - utopian energy is no longer directed towards a stateless community, but towards a state without a nation, a state which would no longer be founded on an ethnic community and its territory, therefore simultaneously towards a state without territory, towards a purely artificial structure of principles and authority which will have severed the umbilical chords of ethnic origin, indigenousness and rootedness.

As far as art, according to definition, is subversive in relation to the existing establishment, any art which today wants to be up to the level of its assignment must be a state art in the service of a still-non-existent country. It must abandon the celebration of islands of privacy, seemingly insulated from the machinery of authority, and must voluntarily become a small cog in this machinery, a servant to the new Leviathan.

--Slavoj Zizek

Laibach - Instrumentality of the State Machine
8th December 2005 - January 8th 2006 @ Mala galerija in Ljubljana

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Who needs Fox News when you've got John Bolton?

But he has done us a service by publicly airing the appalling state of the relationship between the US and the UN.

June 8, 2006 04:35 PM
Ilana Bet-El
The Guardian Unlimited

The diplomatic world came to a shuddering halt today when Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary General of the UN, was undiplomatic: he told the truth. Addressing a US audience, he noted that "the prevailing [US] practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another."

Not exactly stirring stuff, but such is the nature of the truth that it caused a massive storm in the land of the brave and the free, led by the US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, who declared Malloch Brown's speech "a very, very grave mistake by the Deputy Secretary General. ... the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen." And just to prove Malloch Brown was right in saying that the administration does nothing to protect the UN from US critics, Bolton led the march: "fundamentally and very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant, it's just illegitimate."

Who needs Fox News when you have officials like that? (Read more.)

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Sea-side Studies at Ilfracombe, Tenby, the Scilly-Isles, and Jersey.
Lewes, George Henry

Bookseller: Proctor's Antique Maps and Books
Puddletown, Dorchester, UK

Book Price: US$ 180.21

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

why not show these chumps how it's really done?


Deadline for Proposals: 1 August 2006

The Film & History League's 2006 Film & History Conference
"The Documentary Tradition"
8-12 November 2006
Dolce Conference Center (Dallas, TX)


To many, the Middle Ages often seems a very distant part of human history,
but films and television programs set in what Kevin J. Harty has termed the
"Reel" Middle Ages make this era come alive again for viewers.
Medieval-themed film and television programming serves an especially
important role in our contemporary world, as Martha W. Driver suggests: "in
a culture that values the visual over the printed page, film keeps medieval
history and heroes alive, topical, and under discussion, sometimes heated
discussion," and the medium of film has become one of the most important
disseminators of information (right or wrong) about the medieval past.

However, because film versions of the Middle Ages are both popular and
prevalent (David John Williams goes as far to assert, "The cinematic Middle
Ages represents the way many people really think of that part of their
history"), educators are often at a disadvantage when they try to compete
with or disabuse such representations of the medieval.

In effort to highlight these qualities of medieval film, the MEDIEVAL FILMS AREA invites
proposals for papers and sessions investigating the representation of any
aspect of the Middle Ages in documentary film and educational television
programming. Proposals for round tables on any of these themes are also
welcome. (A working listing of programs and bibliography related to
medieval film and the documentary tradition will be added to the Medieval
Studies at the Movies website at HIC!,
while Bert Olton's The Arthurian Legends on Film and Television (McFarland,
2000) offers an overview of material devoted to the Arthurian tradition.)

Potential topics include: Read more...Collapse )

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Published: June 6, 2006

The State Senate gave final approval to a strict abortion ban, and Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco was expected to sign the measure. The bill would ban nearly all abortions in the state, but it would take effect only if the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, the ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion, or if the Constitution was amended to allow states to ban abortion. Under the measure, doctors found guilty of performing abortions would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $100,000. Originally, the bill would have allowed abortions only to save the life of the pregnant woman. The House added a provision to allow abortions in cases involving permanent harm to the woman's health.

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

If authenticity is something in which we can still believe,
and if it is at all compatible with the irony built into cabaret,
then I believe this is pretty smack on the Deutschmark.

Sorry for the shitty quality of the video.

Katie Lynn [userpic]

Are we meeting this week?

When does Rob get back?

Does anyone even know?

Freak of Nurture [userpic]

Jesus Loves Nina Hagen!
As Does Bachelormachine!

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