“All tourists whether or not they take photographs, consume places and experiences which are photographic, as they have been made or have evolved to be seen, above all to be photographed… such places are often photographs materialised in three dimensional form.”
Peter Osborne quoted in TTG3
Always this pomposity of the theorist and philosopher… Why do we always imagine that others are so easily led? Why imagine any other being to be so much more foolish and less able to see than yourself? Philosophers are, in my experience, quite the least likely people to live by what they say, snapping away on their jolly hols where their superiority is at all times constitutive of their meaningless self-power presence.
The Philosopher and critic, the journalist, slopping through the standard life experiences on the one hand, mortgage marriage progeny, and on the other, within the same breath, galling intellectual dominance. Why not then also believe oneself capable of snapping aff a few winners? Why should the philosophers learnedness not “express itself” via some poetry?
The philosopher is a protestant with a sophistic calling and a hobby.
The artist is the philosopher with a passion.
Romantic as it sounds why should we not insist on this differentiation? Why should these, us, we, those tasked with ideas, meaning, beauty… absolutely fucking insist on how these things are played? Why has David Campany not been hung? His masturbating on the grave of John Berger is enough, surely? Even if all the other crimes are far more heinous that one should be enough for a public beheading alongside Geoff Dyer. The liberal cultural “socialist” elite, travelling extensively but only publishing their photos on instagram among adverts for their new books and blockbuster shows. Come, now, people of thought. Perhaps it is too much to say that they are worthy of being hung, but at the very least we might ignore them? Can you do that much, for yourself, for love and beauty, at least?
No one sees the way that Osborne outlines above. Or am I too deeply drowned in the drudgery of the photographic? How can we not understand that people have always understood the built world as being designed to be seen? Which is to say that even when one is building a bivouac to hide from a bear one is still basing its design, profile, envelope etc etc etc on seen-ness, even when it is the unseenness that is so important. Perhaps particularly. But at no point did anyone ever build anything that was not related to being seen or not seen at some level. That photography comes along and changed the rapidity with which we saw things is something, of course, but there are none of us alive that recognise what a world without photography might have “felt” like as a visual experience. And, whether we can more or less imagine such a time, none of us could, surely, be so stupid as to look at buildings, art works, books, designs, paintings, prints, letters, paper… and not see that they were designed to be seen, to be read and understood. “This is a big building isn’t it? I feel awfy wee here.”
I do not claim here not to be stupid, I am stupid, and the people I know, I am sure, would also agree to being stupid. But there is a lapse in this by now very tired way of thinking, of judging.
Photography is part of the texture of experience. It is not alien. We are not baffled by it regardless of our engagement with it, it is no longer magic or unusual. It is immanent. It is nature.
A three dimensional thing based on a two dimensional thing. A design, then, or drawing, of which something is drawn.
A thing which is drawn to be built to be returned to being drawn, by light in the second instance. A cycle of reproduction. An enjoyment of the repetitiveness of representation? Do it again!
“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life.
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit
fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged.
They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it
again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong
enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough
to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning,
“Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon.”
Why would we imagine ourselves to be further from the cave than others? More able or less able to identify what or what is crass or tasteful from the safe distance of our critical ivory tower. Make something, you fucking coward.
What do you see, out there, that is beautiful? Philosopher?
What do you see that makes you imagine how much better people see and parse what they see, of the world, out there?
Do you not imagine that those whose vocation it is to see see more than you do? Why do you not ask them why they insist that your requirement to publish another paper on something new probably isn’t really an approach to truth that is going to work, terribly well, for anyone, and that in visual art there is something which you cannot write about, it is very difficult to make things to see because everything is so easily done and so thoroughly reliant on words, we need to make the assumption that everything that can be thought by the critic can be thought by anyone else. Yet it is only someone truly willing to suffer that will, additionally, devote all of their lives to the pursuit of making something outside of language and money.
Language as a medium of money.
Copywriters are somehow forgotten, mostly, it is always photographs which take the brunt of the blame for “seduction” and other bullshittery. It is, of course, the details, the descriptions, which “seal the deal” before one buys.
The people we should ask about the new world of images are the ones who live in it, not the ones who do not live in any world at all, isolated as they are by financial freedom.
Of course we can trust almost no artists, either, really, to do anything other than baseley chase fame and recognition. It is utterly depressing. But in art there is the potential that you find a catholic. In writing there are only protestants.
And, is there not a “doxa” which allows everyone who sees to see this? Everyone in the world of seeing, at least, those of us privileged enough to be allowed to practise and participate in the seeing of things, we know, our doxas are loaded, pregnant with all of this, all of these. It is our responsibility to worm out the filth, or at least, and I think this is the most important of all, to encourage and teach others how best to ignore the filth. This is the task of a teacher, of an art institution, to be clear, open, honest about the absolute political and economic filth that they themselves are forced to display as art.
By the phrase “All art is religious” we have to understand art as opposed to “art” and religion as opposed to “religion”. Which is to say that almost anything we understand to be either of these things is almost certainly wrong, anything we are told, have been told fit into the categories of “art and religion” are precisely that - “art” and “religion”. Simulacra.
Looking at Baudrillard’s own photographs is instructive. The prophet of the hyperreal still made photos, he talks about them as though they are a joke, a part participation, an embarrassment, almost. But he made them. They are, generally, dreadful, but they are an act in the face of a world post-acts. They speak of the necessity of acts in a world without the possibility of doing so, where the act is meaningless and powerless it is all the more necessary.
Everyone has received all the banal messages of hope and doom. Everyone has everything in their inbox, even if they have not opened it it is there. That they have read other things is neither here nor there.
Each critical standpoint is utterly mutilated by prejudices.
Each television programme or hollywood movie is only as crippled by prejudice as any piece of critical theory, after all.
To have read all of Nietzsche is no different to having watched all of Dallas. Both are only, at best, misread and misunderstood. Both as likely to have concealed the beauty of failure, and to have illuminated by their shadow the awkward and divine comedy of suffering and survival. It is only when we read things without our own breadth of potential that we experience things as victims of the trite mock tragedy of doctrinal ideology.
Martin Parr called me a “philosopher”. I knew he was rude but I didn’t think he was so rude. I has asked him whether Comedy was bad things happening to bad people and Tragedy was bad things happening to good people (I didn’t mention where it was from, whether or not he knew it was Aristotle he correctly sniffed out the pretentiousness). He didn’t answer. And it isn’t really the point.
The point is that Aristotle wasn’t able to see what philosophy would have become. Now he would not say the same thing. Comedy isn’t “comedy”, after all. Enter the Dragon.