Go on, buy some art online: it’s safe to know what you like

Are our brains too small to understand modern art? That’s not my question. It was framed by Terry Teachout, a consistently interesting writer on culture for The Wall Street Journal.

Though I enjoyed his little speculative exercise, and though I feel much as he does about his examples selected from modern classical music and modernist literature, I think he was barking up the wrong tree. That isn’t just because it is often impossible to tell who really understands a work of art, and to what degree. What I’d like to know, instead, is how long — if ever — it’s going to take the average person to feel safe in liking what he and she does naturally and instinctively, caring nothing about lining up with either mass or expert taste.

This familiar complaint by a Simon Heffer in yesterday’s Telegraph has something to do with too many people’s fear of expressing — or acting on — their aesthetic preferences:

There was a dreadful phrase that one used to hear a lot 30 or 40 years ago, but which is now, fortunately, less common: “I know what I like.” The level of satisfaction with which it was uttered was matched only by the degree of contempt it used to excite in me. How did the speaker know? And what did it say about his or her determination to close off a no doubt underactive mind against any adventure, any new stimulus, any sense of curiosity?

While the particular form of arrogance he describes is intrinsically annoying, knowing what you like – even insisting that you do – is not necessarily the sign of a closed mind. Surely it can also be consistent with wide-ranging, possibly pathological, curiosity? A strong, visceral certainty about what one likes can be hard won – from years of exploration and adventuring.

I have been thinking about all that partly because I am still wondering about the subject of my last post. Could selling ‘fine’ art online liberate buyers to simply choose what they like, sparing them the embarrassment – or annoyance – of needing to talk about it to people who know more about it than they do? Or less?

So far, I have only had time to look at a small portion of the portfolio that Ana Margarida Johnson, one young artist who recently joined the conversation here, has put up for sale on her site (yes, with helpful price tags.) In keeping with my preference for saying as little as possible about art that I find attractive, I will only note that I seem to have been drawn to her picture titled Orange – in spite of (usually) loathing the colour – because (i) of the playful vibrance of its shapes, not just its palette; (ii) I once, long ago, enjoyed drawing and painting abstract, complex geometric constructions myself; (iii) the work of Wassily Kandinsky, which I loved in those years of messing around with paint, came to mind in my first glance at Ana’s creation (say, his Black and Violet); (v) it looks almost exactly like my conception of how human brains operate – not just in my childhood, but well into my twenties, when I continued to dismiss all scientific understanding of grey matter as hopelessly dull, by comparison.

And that reminds me …For reasons that mystify even me, a trailer for Brain Wave, a piece of performance art by the Whalley Range All-Stars, has decisively reversed a downward drift in my mood every time I have watched its excerpts, since I discovered it a few days ago. I mean that I sensed that its effect was far more complex than simply making me laugh, but without being able to say exactly why. And I would rather not know. In that respect – a delicious unaccountability – it made me think of Waiting for Godot, which somehow makes despair cheerful. It also called to mind Dada — and Marcel Marceau. ‘See wishful thinking fight it out with mental blocks and twisted logic,’ the notice for Brain Wave proclaims. I wouldn’t say that that’s what I saw – or didn’t see — in the trailer, which made me sharply regret being too far away to accept its invitation.

Do artists need any more than that from an audience?

If I went to watch that WRAS offering, I would hope to have a chance to meet the troupe’s Pig, too. This is not the only site on which that beast has been discussed obsessively, interminably, perhaps tediously, for some … but my excuse, this time, is a chance re-discovery of a truly terrible poem, my reward for tackling the consequences of a flood in a laundry room that went undiscovered for weeks:

Harmonious Hog draw near!
No bloody Butchers here,
Thou need’st not fear,
Harmonious Hog draw near, and from thy beauteous Snowt
Whilst we attend with Ear,
Like thine prick’t up devou’t;
To taste thy Sugry voice, which here, and there,
With wanton Curls, vibrates around the circling Air,
Harmonious Hog! warble some Anthem out!

from A Pindaricque, On the Grunting of a Hog , Samuel Wesley Sr., 1685

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44 Comments

Filed under Visual art & artists

44 responses to “Go on, buy some art online: it’s safe to know what you like

  1. antiphonsgarden

    I found the films of the art critic Ben Lewis (Played on ARTE TV)very “enlightening” and funny, about the ways the art market “functions”.
    Hilarious disastrous.

  2. Often art criticism is made with a pre-set series of aesthetics by which to judge the work. Which is fine up to a point but also results in the critic judging work for not doing what it never set out to do in the first place. Michael Billington in the Guardian is a classic example of a man who has set the boundaries of what theatre is to such narrow perimeters that almost nothing ( bar Pinter and Shakespeare ) can conform to them.

    I’m as pernicketty in my criticisms as the next person but I can’t see the point in that kind of attitude. I guess the fear is that an all encompassing critical relativism will emerge – “it’s a masterpiece of the surfing musical genre “, ” The director is the Shakespeare of the giant bug invades planet Earth genre.” And so on.

    But in the end all it seems to do for me is further sanctify the word art. So to apply the word art to something is to bestow something sacred or special on it. Of course some things are better than others but all of it for me is art ( i.e something made by somebody that didn’t exist before ). The fun is sorting out what you do and don’t like.

    I’ve tried very hard in the past but I can’t lay down a set of principals that a piece of work has to tick off before I’ll acknowledge its art status. Some things I like seem to contradict each other so it seems a pointless activity.

  3. also thanks for your considered response to the vid-clip. You might be interested to know that when we performed the show in the SW of England we had several comments of the “I liked that but I don’t know why” variety. Which for a show about a moment seemed perfectly apt.

  4. antiphonsgarden

    “art status” this word “creation” makes me wonder how much some “art” is about status, instead of being a human (probably not only human even!) expression first and enough as such.
    It does NOT require a “market” flattering the narcissistic ego of few speculative wall owners in need of presentable decoration to be called “art”. From prehistorical storytelling pictures, up to aunty bettys macramee bag, art is creative communication and “worthly”as such!
    But what kind of “story” does oversized overpriced fairground hearts for billionaires tell us, beside that millions of humans have to be squeezed and die, to flatter some hearts in poverty.
    Who fools whom, is not good enough as past the postmodern grand narrative.

  5. @ET … I extend my rule of avoiding aesthetic dissection — of anything that really grabs me – to being careful not to ask artists any truly germane questions about their creations. . . eg., please! tell me, o tell me, why is the great wonderful BIG blue hand reaching around the shed in Brain Wave… ???! .. Just the occasional, peripheral one. Eg., where did you find those marvellous checked shirts like cardies knitted too far by a mad knitter? (And where can I get one?)

    @antiphonsgarden ... I’m delighted that you’ve linked to this space, even though I haven’t yet been to your site .. will as soon as I can.

  6. I’m not sure which checked shirts you mean. The Brain Wave shirts are pyjamas ( probably from M+S ), the check shirts in the compost show are accumulated through visits to market stalls.

    We wanted the action in Brain Wave not just to happen in the head but also to expand into the performing space. So a body bursting out of the shed seemed like a good way of doing this plus it gave another opportunity to carry on playing with scale.

    The hand makes a physical connection between the performer and the head. What you don’t see in the vid is that she is grabbed out of her reclining chair and dissappears into the hand ( a simple coup de theatre !) at the beginning to “appear” in puppet form in the brain space and then she reappears at the end like plastiscene moulded by the 2 hands – impossible to explain in words without sounding a bit deranged but that’s why we do what we do the way we do.

  7. Thank you, I would never have thought of sleepwear, since my fuzzy mental picture is of the performers being clad in jeans under those shirts – no time at present to go back to check. So now I know just how far out of touch with pyjama fashions I am. Of the people I know who might be expected to keep up, none have any made of ordinary fabric, just the same super-fine tissue as in the Emperor’s New Clothes.

    … Yes, still replying mostly as a headless chicken, I’m afraid. . . Thank you, thank you! for your explanation about the Hand. If it is strong enough to pick up the sleeper and carry her away, it must have taken a lot more work for you and Sue than your labour over Pig. But perhaps an actor – you? – hides in the palm at each performance, and the sleeper is borne away in his/her arms? … No need to answer, I simply cannot resist thinking aloud. . . The great thing about your shows is the way they completely take over a watcher’s head: what are these people doing? why? how? … And then there’s a blizzard of possibilities for artistic intentions to imagine and sort through.

    … With @Hazlitt’s linctus wearing off, it isn’t safe to go back to the comments in the Can Google and Charles Saatchi … thread. … But I think he’s spot-on here:

    === Create a new commodity,set up a new index or stock exchange such as the Times-sotheby Art Indexes and embelish it with graphs and bingo! ===

    Like the stock market, art marketing has nothing to do with ‘fundamentals’ – the depth of an artist’s engagement with a work, freshness of vision, originality, technical skill, and so on … and what parts of buyers’ minds – and dare I say, soul — it stirs. . . As with stock trading, too many purchasers are chiefly preoccupied with correctly anticipating what value _other_ people will place on something – in art, on the art object now, and in the future (appreciation).

    Years ago, I was invited to breakfast at the Ritz – not exactly a common occurrence, and not repeated since — by someone powerful at the Marlborough Gallery I’d met at a dinner at the home of a painter friend. I was tired and sad about the prospect of leaving London the next day for somewhere thousands of miles away, with no chance of returning for a long time. . . It was a sunny midsummer morning, yes the food was as you’d expect, but I was nearly crying into my Darjeeling by the end of the meal – from disgust. My host, a caricature of the most pompous Glyndebourne-going twit, wanted me to put him in touch with some of the hundreds of nouveaux riches that a technology boom had created a few miles from where I was living at the time. Surely I could find him a person or two who _needed_ a Henry Moore to seal his ascendance to the plutocracy? … If he’d suggested helping him to find customers for the work of struggling artists still alive, I might have been half-interested. If he’d uttered as much as a single sentence revealing real passion – or indeed any feeling – for some art movement, or the work of a particular artist.

    … But no, it was all about helping rich people get richer.. . . I can’t wait to see the internet bypass intermediaries – stockbrokers, @Ha would say — in every branch of the arts.

  8. antiphonsgarden

    Dear acacciatura
    Was the sound related to the wind in the branches? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia
    Thank you for your warm welcome, such a pleasure to feel on “friendly ground”.
    I don’t know why world press still pretends that I don’t exist when someone types in this name, the underline leading straight to me is missing too, but after 1000 years of solitude, no only 2 years of partial bloging, I got yesterday my first comment, so, they must be ways.
    I apologize already for my “creative English” but normally, good willing souls understand it, and finger pointers use it to disgrace my arguments.
    Sorry, to have used this article to share few things and greet all in here, but don’t worry, the art market will not miss that easy my inspired annoyed inside insights. Bises a tous!

  9. antiphonsgarden

    I raised up in the idea that aristocracy was about
    serving your next with all your skills , and I admit frankly a certain disdain towards the “nouveaux riches” obsession for superficial values like “appearance show off”.
    Not only on the art market, but in general, the surface varnish seems to matter more to all these “up climbers” than the greater satisfaction of an inner life. Considering all this hot speculative air is overblown 13 times and machines have dehumanised speculation totally now, their fake charity sound good noises (in art or elsewhere) and tax reduction smiles are as comforting as the clown of a certain fastfood.
    All this points towards such an immense INNER POVERTY devastating life on earth for narcissistic mirroring (narcissism is NOT self love, but addiction to an image). Sad kids collecting petty precious like marbles, to keep their testosterone level high.
    My sense for compassion includes even them, but it seems that wealth leads to the wrong company and that they cant afford a good therapist/ a authentic friend shaking a bit their certitudes.
    Is that not terribly sad? all this mess, for a bit of social autistic glitter filled senseless solitude.

  10. Not sure how you are checking for replies … I’ve responded to your observations about aristos vs. hauts-bourgeois on the We few, we happy few thread …

    General notice: please don’t be offended by gaps of a day or two before I can answer. I need to pretend that this blog doesn’t exist to get certain kinds of work done.

  11. acacciatura

    I enjoy the spirit of your blog and feel honoured to be allowed (with my lousy English and my curved straightforwardness) to participate to it.
    I HOPE you care for yourself FIRST, and it would not cross my mind to impose any guilt on a gentle person like you, who has the honest will to communicate thoughtful with me&other.
    A rare quality this days.
    Take your time and I hope that we might remain a pleasure, not a duty.
    I just made raspberry confiture (wished I could share with you all!) from my own bushes, and saved the tomato temple from the deluge, discover that amongst the kitten, not one but two looks like white teddy bears and wrote a letter (yes,I still write”by hand” and even with feather sometimes). Life goes on with all his facets.

  12. Hello dear Wordy (if I may still call you that).

    One of the few I have missed dearly in the last months. It has been too long. Des told me. Glad you’re back. X

  13. A lovely surprise to see you again, dear @Susan! Are you back in your special room on the edge of the sea in Dar? … Surely it wasn’t @Des who told you I was back, though, as I don’t remember him leaving the smallest footprint here (as far as can be told without visitor-tracing software … other than what WordPress supplies). If it really was, please thank him for checking on me. I enjoyed an autobiographical post on his blog some months ago, but didn’t feel as if I should comment – all too personal, as you might agree, like @ISA’s memoir-in-progress. I don’t believe I have ever read of a more original route into the writing life. Had I said anything there, it would have been, ‘Well done, OvidYeats!’ … I do miss seeing that name.

    I didn’t think that you would ever return to blogging after you announced that you preferred Twitter and Facebook – as millions of others seem to. . . Is that still true?

    A few hours ago, I found myself thinking of some advice you once gave me about how essential it is to become part of a group to survive in the Blogosphere. . . I couldn’t take it, but was reminded of it yesterday in reading about the high cost that independent politicians pay for not being joiners:

    [I]ndependents are to politics what diets are to eating. Everyone loves what they promise, but then dislike[s] them intensely when they actually have to live with them.

    [Arnold Schwarzenegger’s] left-leaning proclivities on issues like the environment and health care were never enough to mollify the state’s liberals; among the state’s conservatives, his right-leaning views on pension reform and crime did not compensate for the taxes he once raised and the deals he cut with Democrats.

    It is an experience others who claim independence know well: the candidate Barack Obama, who won plaudits for promising to work in the spirit of compromise, but is now taking a beating from both parties; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who won election three times while inspiring anger across the political spectrum; John McCain, who made his name as a maverick but never found love with fellow Republicans in his own state, and now, in the face of a far-right challenge, has abandoned many of his old ideals.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/weekinreview/11steinhauer.html?_r=1&ref=weekinreview&pagewanted=all

    … well, I can’t say I feel like a diet. Perhaps a vegetable — broccoli rabe? rocket? spinach?? …

  14. Some resit to the charm of the friendly sisters of little brother.Its not a life need to follow each sheep tribe formation allowing the main interest of all this “helpers of humanity”, selling advertisement and data’s, stock option “worthiness” might USE us .It remains a balance act, how much public visibility corresponds to our needs of relating with other humans. As long its more easy to enter than to leave (without being counted as one of the million members without the own participation!). Not to mention mostly USamericain centred visions of “good communication” where the liberty’s are connected with those “values” up till they spread to all continents as “global values”(like : what is good for the market is good for humanity, or politicly correct mannerism “netiquette” neglecting 3000 years of philosophical discourse).
    I dont even see the need of a cell phone,
    I still favorise telepathy as one truly free tool to cultivate my friends garden and consider that we as users of such media options have to reflect on their true resource and human life impact .Each his own, but thoughtful!

  15. Hi Wordy,

    (Totally off-topic here…)

    I wasn’t even sure if you would print my comment. :-)) Absolutely lovely to hear from you.

    First of all, Des is out at the moment but I will ask him when he returns, how he knew. 😉 He is sometimes evasive with replies, even to me. But he knew. The both of us share the same IP. we have a wireless that links to a cable network & landline, here in Dublin. Des has retained his principles & ethics as OvidYeats & the shunning of materialism with the exception that he partakes now and then, with the sweeter & necessary comforts of what makes life easier and leaves all the rest. :-))I am – and please forgive me for this – in all vulgarity, if I dare to say it which I do, the decidedly posh one!! :-))

    Well, Wordy, I thought I would go to your site by chance a few days ago and remarked to Des with a sudden delight, that you were blogging again. He said rather smugly that he knew all along – and sounded like he certainly did – and I got cross that he never told me. 😦

    The truth being, Wordy, that I was actually away, yes, in Africa for the whole of June. I have climbed the Kilimanjaro – the 2nd time was Christmas Day- but 3 hours from the summit – and I was already halfway up the icy snowcap, I injured my right heel. With mountaineering, you can’t tell your stamina until you reach different altitudes. Oh…it was like another world. So gothic, romantic & foreboding! 🙂 I went, the only woman, the only Asian woman rather, on that mountain with an 8-men Tanzanian crew. It takes a week to climb. The rest are all Westerners/Americans and you wouldn’t find women climbing the mountain alone without their friends or family. :-))

    So anyway, I had to be brought down and if I can make it to the summit in good time the next round, I will be able to collect a valuable certificate.

    Last month, I was so relaxed I decided against the climb but I met my crew and we are all friends and so had lots of fun, narrating comic episodes of the past, and yes, I was in that lovely room once more with the Indian Ocean and the ships sprawled out…and so now, I have to go back in either August or September for the climb. The Kilimanjaro region is in Moshi and I normally fly a domestic route to Arusha city from Dar-es-Salaam via Zanzibar isle.

    Well, Wordy, I have really really missed you. Your absence felt like an acute loss but I can’t explain any more than that. I said to Des, that you surely couldn’t have just vanished and he thought I was being neurotic.

    I think there was such a sadness in reading your last words at the time…where you talked about a storm and then, you were gone, that was last October?? Considered writing to you on the email but not sure if you’d see it.

    Wordy, in relation to blogging…I am a different person now to what I was before…a temperament that is constantly evolving because of all this intense travel and dealing with scores of different strangers every now and then. I think, confidence takes a life of its own and soars.

    I still blog…and intend to do a fair bit while I am relaxed in Dublin. I have Typepad and this is the website I now give you. I think, sometimes you move around a little and in restrospect, life shows you what makes you happiest. I love to blog…I have an audience and I think just to feel happy writing a blog, to know you’re leaving a mark, that’s the important thing. I’ve discovered that my favourite subjects are world literature & films but this travel thing…keeps creeping in.. :-))

    I think blogging wears a raw power of its own. In the more superficial realms of Twitter & Facebook, there is no such thing.

    There is something that goes deep into the heart of a blog, that social media networking sites miss. You’re forced to plunge into the truth of a matter for better or worse, when you search your thoughts. I think it also helps the individual expand on a personality.

    But you’re a natural blogger, Wordy. I’m sorry if I even said anything remotely to distress or cause harm in any way. I definitely didn’t mean to. I used to miss this site and I sometimes thought of you on planes. You know on flights…if you travel alone, there’s a lot of room for soul-searching as well.

    Love you, Wordy X

  16. Dear @antiphonsgarden, @Hazlitt, … @Susan-of-the-kindest-heart … I’ll be back as soon as I can be . . . such delectable discussions of hat pins, etc., that I would rather listen than talk for a while. . . Also, I’d be shirking responsibilities if I lingered here, at present …

  17. Dear acacciatura, I cant find your comment about teasing&love any more, I got interrupted by a big windy storm yesterday, but I answer it here if you don’t mind. You might have noticed how self mocking I can be (I consider self irony as the surest thing of intelligence in other!) and I can make a difference between the friendliness of fingertips searching irony and the distancing arrogance of cynicism. I am “naive” enough to assume a good heart in the most of us, and must admit, I run towards our discourse in here, like a child going to meet his mates to play on a sunny summer day. I might sound sometimes like a dry stick wrapped with ununderstandable marshmallow metaphors, but you should know, how great full I am when the other kids don’t mind me to be a smart cookie.

  18. @Susan, as usual, you – like @ISA — make me feel ungenerous in the extreme, relating all that you do so entertainingly about your life, .. all the colour and all the intercontinental adventures. But that’s the difference between extroverts and introverts, isn’t it? In converations that went on for hours, I hardly ever needed to say a word to my best friend for most of my years in school, … a hyper-extrovert in the most extreme degree, … and that suited me perfectly. . . In addition, I mostly use the net to escape my everyday self … I do hugely enjoy you being you, though. : ) …Not surprised by your thinking of me, since I have found myself wondering about you and @Des, often, for too many reasons to list. . . In various crises involving airports and security last winter, for example, I saved myself the bother of a colossal meltdown by more than once stopping to think, ‘Now, what would Susan do, here?’ – remembering your taming of the Tanzanian airport customs thug (disguised as a generously-proportioned matriarch.)

    … When I come out here, it’s nearly always in the spirit @antiphonsgarden has described precisely:

    === I am “naive” enough to assume a good heart in the most of us, and must admit, I run towards our discourse in here, like a child going to meet his mates to play on a sunny summer day. === …

    This delightful new comrade and I were discussing a French novel, last week, in which the crucial scenes take place in a remote country house which the protagonist first visits when there’s a party in full swing … with guests dressed as for a masked ball. . . I like the bizarre mix we people in this Blogosphere are – some hiding, some not. . . Small pretensions, great ones … Switching sexual orientation at will … Victor/Victoria acts in which the same blogger wears a Hawaiian grass skirt on one site but announces that s/he has nose hairs on another … and so on … Where else in this world can you have so much fun with so little effort?

    … I expect that @Des and I – if he were here – would continue our argument of many years about pseudonymity. ; )

  19. Joyeux Quatorze Juillet! @antiphonsgarden. I expect that you’ll be spending part of your day at your fête du village?

    Please don’t mention big storms unless you want to make me jealous. I know just how glorious they are in France.

    I meant to ask you the other day, who did you mean when you mentioned ‘PB’? In our blizzard of counter-posts, I’ve lost also lost track of things you have been referring to.

    … And then I meant to ask you, why do you disagree with M. Onfray about Freud? Is it because you find too many of old Sigmund’s ideas absurdly reductive, as I do?

    I have also been meaning to tell you that while I am often accused of being intuitive (as I would guess you are, too, or you wouldn’t give this undependable capacity the time of day) … I didn’t actually know that Meaulnes’ place was anywhere near your bolthole. I looked up the background to the story not long ago, but don’t remember whether the house did or didn’t have a real-life counterpart.

    Finally, that was funny about your group being neo-Bloomsberries, since I feel sure that they’d have seen their behaviour as being typically French. Germaine Necker de Stael, in the book I’m reading about her – because her life touches on another subject of keen interest – goes to her estate on Lac Leman to grieve about the end of her affair with Louis de Narbonne, but by the time he arrives there, heavily entwined with another woman, G has already taken a new lover … and the four of them get on splendidly.

  20. Ah, @Susan, I nearly forgot … on our topic, am I right in recalling that you were one of the first people to post about buying art online? In comments at the old place I’d rather not mention because it doesn’t deserve the free publicity? … I thought that you and @OY might have some particularly interesting thoughts on the subject, because he has a sister who paints and put up some striking pictures on LitLovers? … Then, … as you go back and forth to the East, can you tell me whether a tradition of western portraiture in oils has taken hold there? Have you – in say, Singapore, Hong Kong or even China — seen anything as unusual and beautifully executed as Shawn Yu’s portraits … this one of a young woman of Chinese ancestry… and this one of himself? … I wish I could stage my own little show, with Harold Francis Bell’s intriguing English belle in Cheongsam . . . I am fascinated by the kind of unforced and evocative cultural trading that happens a long way from official diplomacy and commerce. . . But what do you think of it all?

    Have your experiences of buying art on the net been rewarding?

  21. I am an introvert, Wordy. In Ireland, my life is totally private. I have good friends but I am an introvert, even while walking through airports and going places. I’ve always been happy with my own company. You can surround yourself with many people for a while as protocol demands it, but you can still be quiet for the space that demands such a silence in your soul.

    With an airport crisis, always have a confirmed flight beforehand and not with a budget airline company. Then you’re safe. No matter what happens, the chances of you being looked after a passenger are very high.

    As for the rest of what you read in media reports, many articles are often exaggerated from a want of sensationalism, hype and perhaps even, a journalist or his accompany editor’s own paranoia.

    regards

  22. Wordy, I didn’t see that post about the ‘art’. I don’t know if you’re seriously interested or just teasing. I’ll come back to it in awhile.

  23. Dear @Susan, … yes, perfectly serious. See: https://acacciatura.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/can-google-and-charles-saatchi-save-artists-from-damien-hirstian-sensationalism-and-the-fate-of-vincent-van-gogh/

    Introvert, extrovert … I don’t see one as better than the other. But I also don’t argue with people about the category they choose to put themselves in. Who knows best?

  24. Merci, I think I will celebrate the national day by writing some paper about the need of direct participative citizen democracy.Revolution is a permanent process, why stooping it at the privileges created by a bourgeois empowering regime change .Specially these days where France has to handle this Vaudeville politicians and the Bettencourt story.
    I might belong to the humanist bunch, but I recognize the courage of Freud to face the hysterie of his time and to start a new approach to psychotherapy.I am great full to him, as a determinate predecessor ,we all have to tribute the merit of a change of perception on the human psyche.I might disagree with him on some points( I don’t think that the unconscious has to be subjugated to the aim of society!) but honour to him, even if Psychoanalyse has been to certain extend another dogma and lobby.I simply dislike the easy bashing of him this days, I wonder who might have an interest to put him down.
    I observe how the pharma industry has taken over the psychiatry and disgracing introspective therapy is connected with market interests.
    Same goes for the discredit against alternative medecin(even in the guard), such attempts are not innocent.
    When I remember how we tried to get rid of electroshocks and they get reintroduced these days as “softer”, I feel like Sisyphus.But willing to roll the stone again up the hill!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Grand_Meaulnes
    This region counts plenty of hidden castles in the forests , as many as goats on the prairies.
    The actual aristocrats are more busy repairing roofs than organising secret balls.
    But, I might go for a little waltz tonight in the moonlight.

  25. === But, I might go for a little waltz tonight in the moonlight. ===

    Well, did you find any friendly spirits from d’Epineuil-le-Fleuriel to dance with you?

    === Merci, I think I will celebrate the national day by writing some paper about the need of direct participative citizen democracy. ===

    There was a time when I sounded exactly like you about direct democracy, @antiphonsgarden, but lately have had my nose rubbed in the many practical obstacles to democratisation … to actually realising the ideals behind the idea.

    The context of greatest interest to me has to do with this question: How can the internet be used to make today’s dominant ‘brand name’ media more democratic? … I’ve been wondering about what can be done by, for instance, leading newspapers, to make the administration of their (comment-driven) sites more egalitarian. .. There are many reasons for wanting this. An important one would be getting rid of the sort of punishing ‘Stalinist nanny’(quoting you) comment moderation – actually, censorship — that drove you and a number of other Acc comrades to storm away from the online Guardian.

    Something interesting I’ve discovered in trying to discuss specific schemes for democratising the media with members of the Establishment — in more than one country – is this. Even those members of the elite who (a) have no obvious connection to the media except as members of its audience, and (b) see themselves as ‘liberals’ or ‘left-wingers’ … have virtually no interest in changing the status quo. . . They all make vague noises about the superiority of trained journalists to ‘citizen journalists’/ bloggers and other outsiders, without being able to prove that the traditional disseminators and editors of the news and opinions are actually superior to their _prospective_ replacements, or to co-disseminators and co-editors drawn from the populace at large. . . . In other words, these flag-waving leftie-liberals aren’t even willing to experiment with alternatives.

    Why not? … even when they aren’t traditional journalists and editors worrying about losing their salaries? … One reason that has slowly dawned on me is that many of them have children, and they are afraid of not being able to pass on the advantages of their positions in today’s power structure to the next generation. The Establishment is a network of inter-relationships that can be complex and subtle. Friends and relations of powerful journalists and editors also have a strong interest in their hanging on to their power … They don’t want to take any steps towards making the media more democratic. Change will be simply forced on them.

    So what I’m saying is that there might be not be any point in our writing papers about direct democracy, or about any other scheme for democratisation – to influence today’s elite. The internet is bypassing the elite and pushing society in that direction naturally … and the changes are happening in a great chaotic jumble … very fast.

    Did you see yesterday’s report about the Facebook founder snubbing David Cameron, when he asked for comments supporting the fugitive gunman, Raoul Moat, to be removed from Facebook’s site? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/facebook-snubs-cameron-over-raoul-moat-tributes-2026870.html … This founder, who is about 25 years old – and has half a billion site-users around the world – simply said, to the democratically elected leader of a small but not insignificant country: buzz off!

  26. Welcome, @ISA! Please – if you have any time to spare — would you tell us what you think of @antiphonsgarden’s comments about democracy in the We few, we happy few … thread?

    Also… about selling art online. It just occurred to me that your brother, Andy Hall, has put his impressive portfolio of art photography on the net. Has he had much success with selling work in this medium?

  27. I AM the “elite”(and a far older one, as those petty up climbers!) who out of awareness renounces in her pseudo alpha “advantages”.
    I am NOT interest in pleasing peoples who s mindset is ridiculous cheap&shabby in their aims for themselves and humanity.
    Champagne labour (how dare do they varnish their doing by the attribute “left”or “labour”, with their patronising disdain they have towards people facing the REAL social division) is the same neoliberalism as the other short sighted profit greedy lot. I was co founder of the eco movement few decades ago, I DON’T have much patiences with careerist procrastinator postponing the issues to “after them”any more.History has given me right on following MY instinct in all the years and by that I stay in the good tradition of my tribe, who “smelled the wind” in advance, even facing the troubles resulting out of the lethargy of the many who didn’t. The next crashes, economically and ecologically will very fast unveil the sad incapacity of these fat cat pleasing lobby puppets.Direct democracy is coming because its needed.Those thinking that they “own” mental habitability through tools”and “play nice” with tax deductible charity blah or pseudo eco “new work”conditions (some internet enterprises have the charm of “truuuuust me!”sects.) will have to face few delusions too. Spreading their same fake security/eternal bounty meme through the media will not help, too many citizen starts to see “through”their evil games and demand the next step.It will be hard, but I trust into the human potential to do what is needed to survive as specie and it is not a question if direct democracy will come or not, but what stops it for being there already now!

  28. === I was co founder of the eco movement few decades ago, I DON’T have much patiences with careerist procrastinator postponing the issues to “after them”any more.History has given me right on following MY instinct in all the years …===

    Not guilty, @antiphonsgarden … ; ) … That wasn’t abstract armchair analysis. What I said was based on reactions to proposals by me for very specific, carefully considered changes — in the direction of what you want.

    Direct democracy is a huge subject. Government-by-referendum approaches that. In California, in the late 1970s, the populace voted, in such a plebiscite, to severely curtail the rate at which property taxes could rise …. Well, one consequence of that — as you’ll know if you follow events in the American west — is that the state often has no money to pay its bureaucrats. Far, far, worse than that is that spending on education has been drastically reduced in the last thirty years — with measurable declines in quality.

    So, what do you have now, in California? An undereducated population. Too many voters who don’t understand the issues on which they vote in referendums. . . Too many voters who choose the candidates with the best teeth and hair from election campaigns conducted on television.

    The other night, I asked a friend who is exceptionally knowledgeable about California politics if there was any hope of voters reversing the mistake they made in cutting back too severely on property taxes. He shrugged and said that although everyone agrees that the error has had horrific consequences, no one has — to his knowledge — had any success with putting a proposal for _increasing_ taxes on the ballot.

    All very Alice-in-Wonderland … not a reason for giving up, of course, but oh dear, one does despair.

    … Well done, you … for taking the lead in the environmental movement.

  29. A neurotic mindset is not changed overnight, but the awareness of self responsibility of the own choices helps tremendously.
    The legitimation of elites towards “the populace” is an old neoplatonism, and the failure from dump down citizen appears as to be a part of the transition “learning by doing”situations.Considering the long therm failing of “those in power”, the disdain towards the capacity of those who are just “good enough” to put their vote billet into the box all few years, neglects the “lack of practice”.It can hardly come worse than what politicians do out of their supposed superiority to take decisions.
    I guess the old Californian myth has to fall in the pacific, to refresh his spirit, but my experience with this place is that the establishment has done his best to crush the real spirit of freedom who was starting to change society over there, that for I don’t wonder about such neoliberal results of deregulated “free enterprise” mentality over everything has replaced the “real thing”.
    Neoliberal social autism IS the neurose.
    One generation has been brainwashed into it,
    up to a postmodern new reactionary mindset.
    That does not mean that the neurose is the inner potential of humans.

  30. === Considering the long therm failing of “those in power”, the disdain towards the capacity of those who are just “good enough” to put their vote billet into the box all few years, neglects the “lack of practice”.It can hardly come worse than what politicians do out of their supposed superiority to take decisions.===

    You wouldn’t be thinking of the geniuses responsible for the global financial crisis, would you? …: ) … It’s still hard to give up the idea that certain decisions are complex enough to require highly trained brains with the right specialised educations.

    === my experience with this place is that the establishment has done his best to crush the real spirit of freedom who was starting to change society over there, ===

    … Unfortunately, many of the would-be reformers effectively crushed themselves by taking the ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’ slogans too literally — don’t you think?

    … To return to another of our themes, have you ever seen a good psychological analysis of the Fournier novel — ideally, free of both lit-crit and psychology jargon?

  31. I have seen more people who out of some kind of petit bourgeois cowardism distant themselves from the revolution of spirit who had started (and who has to go on now, with so much wasted time”!), pretending to “be a sand corn in the machine!.
    The most got swallowed by the machine.
    The reactionary backlash against the “new spirit” can be named and the actors too.
    The so called “experts” are simply those who have succed to make us all believe that their “go betweenness” is of essential matter to humanity.
    SEE THE RESULTS!
    I do not trust people stuck into their fantasy of “superiority through education” who have not questioned WHAT THEY LEARNED, FOR WHOM , FROM WHOM, AND WHAT FOR AND HOW IT IMPACTS THEM.SELF AWARENESS of motivations!
    I know enough of these people myself to know their mostly feeble neurotic disconnected mindsets in need for recognition and attention . Disdain “look down” is NOT the sign of “the best” I met in life. Real intelligence shows in her available simplicity . Not in hermetical hierarchical gri-gri shaking (those who NEED those kind of behaviour, had already issues before they learned the first tool of their future illusory “success”).Put me in a room with one of this wonder fools for a hour, and I know what droved him/her TRULY inside into this trip. Bashing hippies is a cheap projection from a generation who has been brainwashed since few decades by the neoliberal doctrine. What a terrible neglect of human potentiality.Cold times on the edge of transition.Mind belts will not help in this loop, but the ability to dance on banana peels.

  32. === Bashing hippies is a cheap projection from a generation who has been brainwashed since few decades by the neoliberal doctrine. ===

    No, you wouldn’t find me doing that. I have too many ex-hippie friends … It’s just that, all else being equal, if you knew nothing else about voters deciding on eg., the desirability of euthanasia, would you really choose gentle, mellow, pot-scented creatures who had never got further than kindergarten over the most insufferably pompous pseudo-liberals … who had nonetheless demonstrated an ability to think rationally, somewhere along the way?

    Naturally, I agree that banana-peel dancers would be preferable to either, but only if they can do the polka on a carpet of those skins.

  33. I am not an “EX” hippie(never mocked my teenager visions!) , but still a humanist.
    So, you propose to me the choice between “serious”abusers, and “uncult”fascist masses.
    Well, I suggest to you, that the more the masses gets treated like cattles by the first, the worse the result will be, in whatever system one is.
    Its not up to direct democracy to prove to anybody that “it produce “nice “results, but, from both mess, I still prefer the one citizen truly had a choice.As I said before, neoliberalism has been such a destructuring cynicism, squeezing more and more out of too many for too less, if things gets bad, I can tell the responsible, and blaming it on “the stupid masses who needs “leaders”is too much anti democratic “for their best”(yeah,right,we believe it”….who are these pompous masterminds talking in everybody name? ) disdainful pre fascism already to me.
    Its HIGHTIME to make a step FORWARD in democracy after how long?
    How long will well educated mature voters gets scared off with the idiot mean vote? Common, too many of us, see through the game now!

  34. … No, no, … I wasn’t proposing any such choice, just extrapolating to the most extreme degree to make a point. A few days ago, an opinion poll quoted by the NYT revealed that only 5 per cent of Americans considered intelligence to be the most important qualification for a presidential candidate. . , Is it any wonder that the world got George W Bush for two terms? … The clear conclusion was that democracy isn’t working very well. Do I know of any good alternative to it? No. And no one does.

    === Its not up to direct democracy to prove to anybody that “it produce “nice “results, but, from both mess, I still prefer the one citizen truly had a choice.===

    I like this in theory — with well-informed, intelligent citizens. Beyond that, this discussion would have to become very specific — not something possible for me on a blog, alas.

    === As I said before, neoliberalism has been such a destructuring cynicism, squeezing more and more out of too many for too less, if things gets bad, I can tell the responsible, and blaming it on “the stupid masses who needs “leaders”is too much anti democratic “for their best”(yeah,right,we believe it”….who are these pompous masterminds talking in everybody name? ) ===

    I’m as disenchanted and angry with most of today’s leaders as you are, @antiphonsgarden, so I do understand why you say all that.

  35. It might be me, acacciatura, but I deeply love humans and my artichoke heart makes me cry tears (honestly, like other as cheesy films!) of tenderness when I see social “progresses” and humans acting human.I have a soft cord there, easy to vibrate and full of hope….STILL!.
    I have worked with people in detox, in psychiatry, young “fascists”, in demonstrations, bored house wife’s, driven gamblers, zealot mangers,and strangely enough found their innocent hearts. My mum in a moment of clarity (“Alzheimer” as I told you before!) called it “finding a way through her jungle” and smiled.What a delightful gift.
    I don’t say, violence does not exist, I had guns and knifes pointed at me, and hitch-hiked enough to meet all kind of weirdos and good souls.
    But found out, they are ways (at least up to now!) how to handle with respect such situations.
    I might sound like an old ranter sometimes, but I am filled with the joy for the coming in see at the horizon since so long, like a jumping spring maid.

  36. So “jumping” that I oversee orthographical mistakes, sorry!

  37. === when I see social “progresses” and humans acting human.I have a soft cord there, easy to vibrate and full of hope….STILL!. ===

    You haven’t so far mentioned the one ancestor I am sure you’re descended from directly … but if I’m mistaken there, you could only be the reincarnation of the scribbler who dreamt up Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique. It’s time for your confession, dear @antiphonsgarden. . . .Never mind if he wasn’t technically French.

    … What a range of clients. I hope you haven’t given up helping people — am sure you are unusually good at it … and that you’d miss the work if you stopped.

  38. I guess, I will die on the battlefield. Cant help it!

    Well, points towards few Capetiens, her nose and some Henri who cured with chicken soup, and around few corners to Montaigne.
    To pick up few of the bunch!

  39. The rose and the lily, dear!

  40. Excellent post!! Very informative… Looking for more posts like this!! Do you have twitter or an RSS feed?
    Anyway thank you for this blog.

  41. Glad you enjoyed it. Are you pleased with your own online sales?

    Yes, this does indeed look like Corporate Identity. I see that it comes in more than one colour scheme: http://www.contempogallery.com/item_detail.cfm?itemno=1227

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