Monday, April 23, 2012

We have no freedoms because they hate us

When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating "virginity tests" merely for speaking out, it's no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband "with good intentions" no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are "good intentions"? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is "not severe" or "directed at the face." What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it's not better than you think. It's much, much worse. Even after these "revolutions," all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian's blessing -- or divorce either.-- Mona El Tawahy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

long live doughnuts!

The Devils Hole, Ellensburg, Washington

browsing the internet, i read the following in a paper entitled "Being and Almost Nothingness" written by professor Kris McDaniel:

holes have less reality than their hosts

With?? aside the suggestive sartrean title of mcdaniel's paper, how do you measure less* of reality?

let's begin with this lemma: if there is a hole, there is a host. 

holes are not essentially holes. i.e, just as one says that one and the same material individual persists through the loss of its hole. as you eat your doughnut it -and its hole- disappears.

does the doughnut persist through the loss of its hole? that is to say, is the last little piece of doughnut hosting a little piece of hole? 

circular and to the point: holes are where they are, but the thing being referred to is immaterial. you'd think that if a region contains a hole, it would fail to contain the very same individual (that is, if there were no hole-host). the entity in question would not be a hole, which seems to suggest that being a hole is not an essential property of individuals.

sure, that devil of a metaphysician, david lewis, puts it differently:
Either holes are somehow material, or else there are no such things. Maybe a hole is the material hole-lining that, as we so misleadingly say, surrounds the hole; or else
whatever ostensible reference we make to holes is secretly some other sort of language-game altogether, or it's fictitious reference, or it's just plain mistaken.**

by materializing the hole lewis dematerializes the host! or he just throws the baby with the bathwater. how can you define a "lining" of emptiness? unless hole-lining is an oxymoron. 

long live doughnuts!
* "less of reality" presupposes reality.  **Lewis, D. K., and Lewis, S. R., 1970, 'Holes', Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48: 206-212.

Friday, April 13, 2012

the curse of the potruding lips

the fleshy pout has fallen upon our civilization like a meteorite at the dawn of the tertiary era. you'll find it on facebook pics of groups of three or more female friends, squashed together, arms bent, waving a "V" sign. it can also appear all by itself, as an optical dichotomy:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Platitudes in art writing @ artforum (part two)


Every so often we review the state of national art-writing. Check Art Forum's review page, labeled "Critic's Picks." Art writing has become coded hairball of theory, ideology & arcana. Clarity? Explanation? What for? Yet, when it comes to aesthetic evaluations you'd expect a writer to justify his/her judgments.


 Mark Manders, In Figure with Three Piles of Sand, 2010, photo, Artforum

1- A Matthew Bourbon describes the works of Mark Manders for the Dallas Museum of Art. At the end of his second paragraph he asserts:
Manders carefully governs the presentation of his art as a means to expose the interiority of a self ––a portrait of the artist revealed in the tangential relationships he creates. 
An important conclusion. Yet, from looking at Manders' work, how in heaven can Bourbon fathom such statement? I mean, is "tangential" here a geometric real property, or is it a metaphor for relationship? In some sense anything is tangential to anything else. So?  

Worse yet, Bourbon exhibits an -almost- automatic tendency to approve, as in this sample:
Displaying a sensitivity to the relationship of objects to one another, and the relationship of forms to their environment, Manders crafts and arranges his ambiguous sculptural aggregates as thought-provoking machines. That’s not to suggest that he is merely combining disparate elements in some empty game of neo-surrealism. Instead, his organizing principle is the notion of a self-portrait as a building. Manders’s individual sculptures are precisely conceived and function as parts in a larger and perpetually expanding whole. Manders carefully governs (...)  
Each sentence contains hackneyed nuggets: "displaying a sensitivity," "though-provoking," "precisely conceived," "carefully governs", "creates palpable tension." Then, according to Bourbon's take Manders' work cannot be chancy (it would amount to "an empty game of neo-surrealism"?). But the writer doesn't explain why he makes this distinction, other than throwing an organizing principle: "self-portrait as building." What is that? We'll never know. 
Cheyney Thompson @ Mit List Visual Arts Center, 2012, photo Artforum

2- How about Nicolas Linnert's review of Cheyney Thompson's show @ Mit List Visual Arts Center:
There is an impenetrability to Thompson’s art, which is unexpected given that his references and methods are so extensive and clearly elucidated.
How can Thomson's "clearly elucidated" references and methods simultaneously elicit "impenetrability"? Linnert's own aesthetic bafflement leaves us with pellucid balderdash.

Joe Thurston's Nothing Leading Anywhere Any More Except to Nothing (photo Jeff Jahn)

3- Stephanie Snyder covers artist Joe Thurston's exhibit @ Elizabeth Leach Gallery. Here is an interesting part:
The resonant indexicality of the works’ geometries suggests histories of exchange. And in fact the accompanying text reveals that the works contain objects we cannot see, such as eyeglasses, letters, and older paintings by the artist.
What's "resonant indexicality"? Snyder concludes "resonant indexicality" implies "histories of exchange." But alas, she betrays her own inference with the information of an "accompanying text." Which is first?

Snyder concludes:

Inside each object sits a piece of the artist’s life, its human value enclosed within the question of the object’s value as a work of art. Thurston offers us the opportunity—with each piece’s painterly force field acting as a psychic oasisto contemplate the importance of history and the challenge of letting go.
... "painterly force field acting as psychic oasis" notwithstanding, Snyder's conclusion in red can be said of virtually any artwork.

Until the next,