Lecture 6 with Play (The EROS Lecture)
Up until this lecture I have,through understatement,opposites, and various literary tricks, attempted to bring about discussion of topics which could be defined within the realm of a course on aesthetics. This lecture requires some initial reading. I have supplied the text below.
New Years Eve 1995
Characters: A philosopher, a sculptor, a musician, a writer and a priest.
Setting: A rectangular table upon which are 5 stacks of papers, a bottle
of wine and 5 glasses.Four large curtains allow daylight in through the vertical
spaces between them. As the play progresses the light diminishes.
Writ: This could be a major breakthrough. Here we are, all assembled for the task of compiling a treatise on contemporary aesthetic value and judgment. I'm sure we all have our own objectives but let's try to keep an open mind and let the discussion develop in an objective way, a 'soft' confrontation instead of a competition between our different points of view.
Mus: What makes you think we have different points of view and not just different
ways of expressing fundamental truths?
Writ:Well we certainly..
Phil:Excuse me I don't think it matters.The moment derives its own definition.
Writ: Okay, but it can't be denied that we have different desires as to the focus
of the discussion.
Phil: Perhaps we should first agree on the focus.
Writ: My point is that that is impossible.
Mus: Then let me begin by saying we should differentiate between what is artistically
valid and what is popular.
Phil: That's a dangerous separation.Once made it will exclude what may be some of
the greatest contributions of our day from our investigations.
Mus: Well, does the fact that great composers use folk melodies mean that folk melodies
are artistically meaningful as any more than raw material for the subject? Or are
there more fundamental issues of inclusion along lines of emotional or experiential
Phil: There may be an indication of cultural movement or major issues to be derived
from everyday events and experience.
Priest: I'm afraid I may have to play devil's advocate here (chuckles and smiles all
around) and say, without threatening the intentions of anyone present, that the only
separation necessary, is the one between the event of an artistic creation or manifestation and the viewers' experience of it.
Phil: Well put. We should not separate ourselves from anything but our own personal
experience of art until we have established an objective foundation for discussion
Writ: And the only way to do that is to do it,eh?
Priest: We should perhaps formulate an exercise to rid our souls of the debris of
our own experience
Phil: Bracket it
Writ: Erase it
Mus: Can we do that? Aren't our own dialectical powers prey to our biological realities?
Priest: It's the attempt that counts, not the result. The result will not be fully
Writ: Then the point of this encounter?
Phil: An exercise; another event in a string of attempts to define those moments when it all comes together and a bulbous experience is shared over and above the simple perceptive one.
Priest: A spiritual one perhaps?
Phil: Perhaps. Perhaps undefinable or simply an expression of a need resolved through
Mus: I disagree. A work of art does not communicate. It is.
Phil: But is existence exclusive of knowledge of it?
Writ: If I write that a tree falls in the woods, it does.
Phil: Assuming someone reads what you've written?
Mus: No, if it is written, it is.
Priest: You should have been a Priest.
Mus: Thank you, Father.
Phil: We all seem to be in rapore if not agreement. Let us begin with the first issue of the three that we've joined to discuss.
AT THIS POINT THE SCULPTOR, WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING WINE INCESSANTLY SAYS:
Sculp: We are not in agreement in any way other than a geometrical alliance brought
about by God, excuse me father (father nods), God knows what and I'm sure He couldn't
Writ: Colorful and raw. Just the very thing. A classic model of a romantic artist.
But we have chosen to be here..
Mus: Even if only for the wine
Writ: and we're in the process of setting limits on our discussion so as to perhaps
home in on a set of terms which outline a late 20th century aesthetic.
Sculp: Terms are for writers.
Writ: No, No. Communication in a common language. I don't care if we end up with a
marble sculpture with a loudspeaker embedded in it and put it in a church etc etc
Phil: It is important that you (sculp) try to converse without using the material
boundaries of our separate mediums to subvert the attempt at communication.
Priest: Material boundaries indeed.
Mus: I think a period of silence is in order. Please compose yourselves and think
of a new approach.
(Silence for 1 min.)
Sculp: I say we should perhaps collaborate on a work, a multi-media piece that brings
the eye and ear into a relationship with the spirit.
Priest: I'm afraid we have yet to discuss the validity of collaboration in opposition to the realization of a unique and perhaps inspired Vision by one person. The strongest works, the works that define an aesthetic base have all been one persons' manifestation.I appreciate the sculptor's intent. Your heart is in the right place. But before we begin designing a piece let's establish some base for structuring an aesthetic as we had agreed to do.
Phil: Perhaps there is no way to determine the validity, longevity, depth meaning
substance etc. of contemporary works until historical analyses is possible, until
time tells how well something weathers.
Writ: Perhaps we should simply adjourn and go back to our studios or whatever and get back to work.
Priest: This is truly problematic. If we were going to work on a piece together would
it be a play? The sculptor could do the sets
Sculp: and costumes
Mus: I'd do the score
Phil: I could research and cross reference
THE LIGHT IS QUITE DIM AT THIS POINT
Writ: Wait, What about a radical sculpture, a living performance art piece designed
to withstand times' intolerance for transience, sort of Escheresque with people in
the walls reading quotes..
Sculp: oh please
Phil: Wait, it's not a bad idea.. but in order to be a balanced work, one which fills
the as yet unestablished criteria for a lasting aesthetically valid work, we should
either use a historical base of reference or at very least allude to some myth.
Priest: Or allude to some specific biblical event.
Phil: Sure, sorry Father.
Mus:Will Star Wars be looked upon by the late 21st century in the same way that Tristan
is looked by us?
Writ: Maybe. There are so many more biographies to read, so many more designed events
to experience, concerts, movies, movements, politics.... perhaps we will have to
redefine art and aesthetics in terms of who creates the biggest buzz in the media.
IT IS QUITE DARK NOW
Sculp: Nonsense. Why don't we
create. Together we can consult each other to death and maybe make some money, as
an afterthought of course.
Mus: Is the profit motive not a factor?
Phil: Did anyone ever create an artwork that wasn't a form of self preservation?
Priest: What shall we agree upon then?
Writ: Why don't we take a moment to think of a specific project to manifest an aesthetic. A performance of art. The creation of a myth using proper reference and wait, is there no light here? I can't see.
Phil: Are we all still here.
Sculp: I was never here.
Priest: Don't panic, please. There's simply no light left.
Why use direct reference anymore? Everyone needs a hero. Why attempt to teach? The monster must eat. Let's pray for salvation and feel good about our intentions then we can debauch ourselves as a nights' momentary diversion. Christ died for tomorrows' weaknesses. What does it matter to anyone who can read and is not afraid to learn how to access information. Type in a series of words and get all of that particular services' info and referral. Roiters will supply you with enough material on the cross reference of the words Medicine, Myth, and Art to write a long text possibly entitled I'm OK you're OB1.
Where else would you like to do research? Well, your local library or bookstore. Letters to friends and curators of info. Perhaps attending lectures will open valves and let info flow. But what if education is a mistake. What if myth making is done in direct response to life on the outside, with people, for people. What you will .And to premeditate or secure oneself in the temporary sanction of the University one must openly admit the game of sanctions and the falsification of hope and in general, have a good time. Expression becomes life support tubes and pumps. It's an ideal situation for some.. For those that understand the potential for use of the facilities present, for the human resources available, for the manipulation of an entire society using resources supplied by its government and the parents of their prey.I was once going to open a school myself.
The performance part of art school is interesting in its fulfilment of the three main points of education.Number one is the involvement of students in an activity which opens them up and out to a social sense of presentation and projection.The control over poise, the discipline of the finger, the eye and the mouth. Number two encompasses the experience of performance techniques (perhaps the most important) which enables the student to pick and choose between the many performance art styles and themes ie. political/social/representational and to study staging requirements,etc; the many facets which draw together to best communicate a concept. In other words, a disciplined ingesting and digesting of the linear events leading to a foundation of information used as a springboard for contemporary manifestation of inspiration. Thirdly, the student engages in a confrontation with a role model who will undoubtedly be someone to talk about, gazing glossy-eyed over the top of his/her forehead while waiting for the sun to set a little further.The funny thing is, true performance art is realized as a response to an existential climate. The paradox between the University and education is perhaps material for a piece. The industrial age is over, the response to the industrial age was Performance Art. The artist foresaw the approach of a time where information would supersede mechanics and interactive mythology would be recreated as a justifiable, tribal social/spiritual aesthetic.
This time is very important. We are at the junction of centuries where history
shows a squeezing and a coaxing, an inevitable atomic shift of the gestalt into a
whole and a wholly dangerous transformation. A transference of momentum from the decay to the sprouting bud. We see it happening now. Where is the new insight? The telepathetic frequency is changed. 'Divine' inspiration, true or not, can account for at least some mutation and evolution and show itself to be not a step back ( to health music and minimalist cloying of the basic elements, the raw materials, of creative expression) but a new utilization of concepts and fully catalogued tools with ann informed technical assurance.
Meanwhile there are a handful of creative persons who actually live their lives as recreations of the process itself. They develop something, get stepped on and ground down into fodder and then come back not untouched by the experience. The interplay between their concepts and rigorous approach and the external forces of man and nature eventually show themselves to be a null progression in history; a sizable contribution to eternity's hungry mouth.
But is there validity without reference? Well, let that be a lesson to you. I refuse to proclaim my heroes and have to choose between defending them (which I have already done), standing humbly with a proud look in my eyes, standing proudly with a humble look in my eyes, or simply turning the query onto an indictment of youth. All things considered, keep warm, watch out for low flying ideas and have a Happy New Year.
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