Artists & The Crowd

Three Musicians-1922

I teach an undergraduate course called “The Communication Revolution, Entertainment and Art”. I often have to remind students what the last word has to do with the rest of the title. Marcuse wrote,

In its refusal to accept as final the limitations imposed upon freedom and happiness by society, in its refusal to forget what can be, lies the critical function of the artist.

One of my first jobs was working as a tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. Their work was testament to Marcuse’s statement. I think we are impoverished by our lack of artists who refuse “to forget what can be”, but I’m not sure I know what happened between the late 60’s and the present day. McLuhan had his own ideas about the way we deal with dangerous artists.

To reward and to make celebrities of artists can, also, be a way of ignoring their prophetic work, and preventing its timely use for survival. The artist is the man in any field, scientific or humanistic, who grasps the implications of his actions and of new knowledge in his own time. He is the man of integral awareness.

So does the culture of celebrity and marketing make it easy to ignore the prophet? What was the nature of the world in 1922 that both a Louis Armstrong and a Pablo Picasso could have such revolutionary effect on our culture? If US Magazine existed in 1922, would Louis and Pablo be “celebrities are just like us” drinking anisette at Els Quare Gats in Barcelona or sharing a reefer with King Oliver at a Windy City stage door?

The problem with the 80-20 rule in entertainment (80% of your profits come from 20% of your product) is that it is a relatively recent development. John Hammond, who discovered Billy Holiday, Benny Goodman, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen didn’t live by the 80-20 rule. Mo Ostin, who ran Warner Bros. Records from 1967-1995 kept artists like Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and the Kweskin Jug Band on the roster despite their anemic record sales, because they were artists he was proud to release.

I guess I’m sick of the 500 channel universe and the 24 hour celebrity culture. I want to be shocked again by an artist as brave as Orson Welles making Citizen Kane. What will it take to get back to that reality show?

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0 Responses to Artists & The Crowd

  1. Kevin says:

    Society changed from valuing what an artist says to what they are valued in $.

    Newspaper top 10 movie/music/book lists are based on how much money they made over the weekend.

    I think there was a brief resurgence at the start of Hip Hop music, but they quickly went from criticizing society to showing off their mansions on MTV Cribs.

  2. Zhirem says:

    The dearth of apparently worthy artistic production in today’s society is part illusion and part earned future.

    There are still artists. Ones who struggle, who cannot *NOT* create. Ones who cannot communicate via other means, who cannot connect through the heralded ‘normal’ channels, who will not sit still, or who will not give up on creation via numbing and dumbing themselves into stupor with any combination of various vices and chemistry.

    But they seem to be damned hard to spot these days. Whither the next revolutionary artist who will shake the foundations of culture, who will ring down through the ages with astonished accomplishment?

    Tech has empowered the average to create. The apprentice mixing egg tempre for the Master is now a computer. Either taking care of balancing and synchronizing the other 7 tracks of a recording, or remembering the last 7 steps of undo for any given Photoshop layer.

    One could expound ad infinitum with lament for those truly gifted who have gone before. Pining away for those who’s voices have been stilled; either by death or detainment.

    My own observation: Popular music has not seen a prolific period of creation and celebration like existed between roughly 1967 and 1975. The Beatles. The Who. Jimi Hendrix. Clapton. Bob Dylan. Yes. Genesis (the old lineup). The Rolling Stones.

    I am still discovering new gems in old mines. But I have been working those veins for most of my adult life. Not much that is released today garners enough of my attention to merit much mention.

    Not that some are not trying. Not that many are not noteworthy. Just that the density of really good stuff has never been quite like that period. Perhaps the 30’s and 40’s and maybe even early 50’s with the Beat generation. Charlie Parker. Dizzy Gillespie. Armstrong. Holiday. Mingus. Coltrane. Miles.

    When I reflect, it seems to me that the alterationists like Monet, Picasso, Pollack – – these revolutionaries would be somewhat less-than-impressed with the likes of a crucifix sitting in a mason jar of urine, or a painting of the Virgin Mary done in elephant dung, or a pedestrian bridge wrapped in pink construction paper…

    Then again, who am I to offer either critique or congratulations? “I know something about Art, but I am still not sure what I Like…”

    – Zhirem

  3. arvind says:

    There are still a lot of artists that are exploring possibilities and pushing boundaries. I doubt they have ever been absent, and can’t imagine they will ever be absent. They are just ignored by mass media, but underground art is still very alive. I think the reason you don’t really hear about these artists if you don’t put an effort in discovering them, is that they don’t need mass media either. In the “old” days they would probably try to get at least some coverage in mass media, and many mass media had a tiny little section devoted to more radical, underground, artists, like MTV’s 120 Minutes.

    These days small underground artists can get a worldwide audience through the internet. In response to your question, “What will it take to get back to that reality show?”, I would say it takes effort from the audience to digg into it to find something that tickles your senses.

  4. Morgan Warstler says:

    Cake. The White Stripes. Public Enemy. Sonic Youth. Fatboy Slim.

    Jon, let me ask you these questions:

    Have digital cameras helped or hurt photography in your opinion? Digital cameras helped or hurt film?

    Are the coming OLED high-definition screens and Ultra-High Definition projection systems which make things looks “better than the eye” a boon to or curse to art? When everyone can have a perfect copy of anything hanging on their wall, and change it at a moments notice, is that good or bad?

    Have you seen this:


    “I know something about Art, but I am still not sure what I Like…” is a great quote.

    And yes, they would certainly be less impressed.

  5. Lex Pelger says:

    Funny you choose that picture for the post. I just found this blog where a robot explains famous work of art to you. Today he described Picass’s “Three Musicians ” as: A COLLECTION OF COLORFUL SHAPES


  6. Patrick Freeman says:

    Susan Jacoby, in her latest book “The Age of American Unreason” offers insights into questions raised in this post and your last. The dumbing down of America has resulted in a stagnation of creativity and innovation in almost every corner of American culture with the possible exception of technology. Science, the arts, philosophy, political thought, all have been pushed to the fringes of American consciousness by mindless television, mindless religiosity, mindless politics pandering to the lowest common denominator. I fear for the future of a nation who’s fate is to be determined by the uncommitted voter and the network talking head (Charlie Gibson, are you listening?)

  7. Another Jon says:

    Pablo Picasso was an insufferable self-promoter. He created a persona and used it to sell himself and his art. Andy Warhol. Salvador Dali. Marcell Duchamp. The times they are a’changin’. But not that much really. It just irks some of us, because of the quantity of mainstream attention being paid to people who lack the quality of talent we are more interested in.

    I try not to judge, but cannot help it. My elitism stops at the boundaries of my skin. Your music sucks. Get it. It is probably something from my childhood….but I am uninterested the discussion of the subjectivity of art. At least in this venue.

    The truth is, there are some really fantastic things being done right now. You just have to know where to look. It is ALL about the avenues of communication. If you are relying on radio and televsion to provide you a pathway to the variety of talented people creating interesting art and music…then you will get nowhere. Fast.

    For every Rolling Stones, Dylan, Joni Mitchell you can throw out, I would be able to rattle off a number of artists now that are comparably talented. But their import is compartmentalized. They are not on the radio. They are not on tv. They are not in THE magazines. I would challenge anyone to listen to Jolie Holland’s “Escondida” and tell me it pales in comparison to any album made in the 60’s. The talent is out there.

    I promise I will NEVER be the guy that says “art/music is just not as good as it was back in my day.” I will only ask, “why do I not know about this?” That, to me, is the question. And that question dovetails in to the political realm and the Rev. Wright thing.

    I have no idea what the answer to that is. At least when it gets beyond the personal. Meaning, if you, personally, are interested in something….you can find it. But why is mainstream coverage of entertainment, art, and politics, so devoid of content? Beats the hell out of me.

  8. Dan says:

    I just keep listening to Cream, Wishbone Ash, the original Fleetwood Mac, the Band, Freddie King, Gene Vincent, Buddy Guy, Elvis and my other favorites and ignore almost everything else, musically speaking, especially the new stuff.

    You mention Bruce Springsteen. At my gym they run a nauseating rotation of music videos, a core of about a dozen that you’ll see EVERY TIME you’re there, and some others that don’t show up as often. (Listening to an MP3 player is not a luxury at the gym, it’s a matter of survival.)

    Most of it is completely braindead zombie pop from the likes of Celine Dion and Janet “Nipple” Jackson. One of the videos they ran heavily for a while was Springsteen’s “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” a sappy horrid little song, and the video is indistinguishable from a pharmaceutical commercial. In fact, I bet that I could show any five seconds of it that didn’t include Springsteen to a random group of people and 90% of them would think it was a pharm commercial. “Um, I’m guessing vaginal itch cream, right?”

    Rock and roll is dead, that’s for damned sure. And some guys just don’t know when to retire and stop churning out crap.

    In the case of music, the biggest problem is that the industry aims at an ever younger crowd. In the 1940’s music was aimed at people in their 30’s. In the 1950’s it shifted to people in their 20’s. Since then we’ve shifted down into the teen years and beyond, so that now the average song is pitched at a 9 year old, judging by the boggling success of the likes of the “Now” CD’s.

    The other key demographics is the congenital imbecile who watches American Idol religiously.

    Nine year olds and congenital imbeciles are fine in their way but they don’t know squat about music.

    I’m going to grip the neck of my Epiphone LP extra hard tonight and imagine that I’m snapping Simon Cowell’s neck like a chicken bone.

  9. gage says:

    What will it take? Unfortunately, an audience.

  10. Greg says:


    The answer to your query was hinted at in the question. Just as you said, there are 500 channels now, where there were 3 before. There are N magazines now (where N is some very large number); there were 3 before.

    Great artistic achievements still happen with the same frequency as they did before, if not certainly more.

    Now its just that much harder to hear them — even with ears strained.

    Wonderful things have happened in music in the last few years. For instance Wilco’s magnificent Yankee Hotel Foxtrot of 2002 — which shocked everybody in its sheer artistry ((( was completely unexpected at the time.

    These days you’re more likely to get innovation in videogames, which is a medium that the 40-and-over set just aren’t going to explore no matter how much sparetime they have, but their kids are.

    I think whats missing is two-fold:

    1) the social unification that forcing a small number of media outlets onto a large number of people brings. for better or worse, we were all on the same page when a story happens. we were mentally homogenized.

    2) Art in the pre-digital world was more vibrant. Its something in the psychology. I’ve been exploring it, just as I’m sure that everyone here has who is old enough to have been an aficionado since before the internet. LP records, reel-to-reel machines, Neuman Telefunken U47s, Hammond B3s, Fender Amps, Gibson guitars, Hassleblad cameras, oil paints, the printed page. Such a rich heritage of honest and vibrant, if awkward and unruly gear. The analog mediums produced a sympathetic resonance in us, an analog afterglow.

    3) Back then you were also living in a drier climate, drek on TV. When something happens it made a much larger impression and stood out a great deal more than it would now.

    With digital media, the subliminal pulse is: da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da; the incessant beat of a tireless drum machine.

    and worse — theres no going back from here. You can avoid it or live in denial — believe me, I’ve tried — but its still there, and the minds of the public and the ability for art to effect them has changed forever, irrevocably.

    I think that its important to think about who the new technology empowers. Computers as creation tools tend to empower exactly the people that were never able to make art using the conventional tools. People who couldn’t play guitar, now they don’t have to, they can sample!

  11. Jon Taplin says:

    Wow-What a cool comment string to wake up to in Singapore. Much better than the International Herald Tribune.

    One thread I keep hearing is that the signal to noise ratio is getting out of control (those N magazines Greg cited). McLuhan said (sorry, but I’m immersed in him right now):

    “Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left.”

    Another Jon-I too, try real hard never to judge the art of my students or my own children. I know there is lots of good stuff out there, but the white noise is bothering me. Part of me believes that the rise of the control of the marketer leads to a rejection of the edgy. You can’t sell soap to people who are on edge.

  12. Tatiana says:

    I came across this quote from Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. I think it is very pertinent.

    “What characterizes the so-called advanced societies is that they today consume images and no longer, like those of the past, beliefs: they are therefore more liberal, less fanatical, but also more “false” (less “authentic”)-something we translate, in ordinary consciousness, by the avowal of an impression of nauseated boredom, as if the universalized image were producing a world that is without difference (indifferent), from which can rise, here and there, only the cry of anarchisms, marginalisms, and individualisms; let us abolish the images, let us save immediate Desire (desire without mediation)” (p.119).

    Barthes asks for the unrealistic. We cannot abolish the images. We have substituted Image’s that placate for Truth that mobilizes. At this point, is it possible for Image to save us? What if Image elucidates the Truth?

    “Such are the two ways of the Photograph. The choice is mine: to subject its spectacle to the civilized code of perfect illusions, or to confront in it the wakening of intractable reality.” (p. 119)

  13. Jon Taplin says:

    Tatiana- This a beautiful quote from Barthes–quite layered. The plethora of images he speaks of are like “the noise” I was just posting about.

    I guess what we are all fighting here is the “nauseated boredom” induced by the constant stream of pixels.

    Maybe some kind of place for retreat (off the grid) is required.

  14. John Hurt says:


    Have you read Daniel Boorstin’s book, The Image A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America?

  15. Jon Taplin says:

    Morgan-I looked at that link you gave us. That’s not art. It reminds me of a “Son et Lumiere” on the side of some French Chateau my parents dragged me to when I was 15. It was boring then and it looks boring now.

    JH-I just ordered the Boorstin book. Thanks

  16. John Hurt says:

    Bad taste leads to murder.

  17. Patrick Freeman says:


    Just one comment, perhaps a correction to a common misperception. I’m 63, and an avid gamer. I do not play online games, just too much hassle, but I buy and play any number of video games, and I do appreciate their innovative concepts and graphics. I have any number of friends about my age who also play video games. Don’t be quite so sure about your prejudices.

  18. Hugo says:

    Jon, this is indeed a lovely string, if strings can have edges. As you’re saturated in McLuhan, I reckon you’re referring to art in the realm of mass culture, in which commodified art and the art of commodification become indistinguishable, the better to conflate human desire and human need—a conflation McLuhan (and e.g. Huxley) obviously saw as the final colonization of our being. (Hence the lovely call from Barthes for “desire without mediation.” A tip of the hat, I should think, to Girard.) When the medium is mediator of our desire, the medium has the power to dictate our needs and our self-perception. And Tennessee Bill Shakespeare strikes again, ’cause yes that sure can lead to murder.

    I think that McLuhan was staring right down the telephoto lens of a ghastly dystopia, and sounding his tocsin. To me, he was a visionary ethicist—perhaps the first one the communications biz ever had.

    I also really like gage’s succinct answer: it’ll take an audience. Imagine an audience randomly selected from a country where everyone produces art of some sort outside the commercial realm. Part-time painters admiring the work of a professional one. Front-porch musicians listening to an old hand, or a gifted up-and-comer.

    It could happen. Slowly, but surely, it could.

  19. Morgan Warstler says:


    It wasn’t the art I was showing you – it was the tech and the effect. Put out by a company called Pani. They are leading in the space of architectural projection.

    Whats so cool is that you take a picture of the building you want to project on from the exact angle of projection, and then with their software allow artists to render their work (or say advertisements!), print it with a digital printer on a transparency which acts as like an old school slide on the projector. Buildings 20 stories high and 200 feet wide can be hanlde by a single projector.

    I’m certainly a fan. I think it can do wonders to raise public consciousness about art and raise real estate values. Imagine a whole city block street in LA (say 5th st) turned into the world largest art gallery. Allowing a different artist to paint the block nightly. It’s incredibly inexpensive and re-crafts many public spaces for private expressions.

  20. Ken Ballweg says:

    Blade Runner! Now, why did that random thought pop into mind?

  21. Ken Ballweg says:

    As somebody who has hundreds of vinyl albums which I am laboriously transferring to digital, I can safely say there was as much dross as there was gold in 60s, 70s, and 80s. But that is getting tossed unconverted. Personally I suspect there is some magical ratio, similar to the 80:20 rule in terms of great artists; that is, a certain percentage of the population (baring a major war or other all consuming disaster) will produce great works that will be more appreciated by the generation that is coming of age, then the one that is simply aging. And they will do it whether it pays the rent or not.

    I remember when I finally realized why homes were built better then, than now: sample skewing. The crap was burned up, or torn down. Time winnowed, and we think that what’s left standing, either as a result of quality, or reverential care as the norm for the period.

    Same as it ever was.

  22. Jon Taplin says:

    Hugo-“We have no art” say the Balinese; “we do everything as well as possible.”

  23. Hugo says:

    Techne! Bravo!

  24. Zhirem says:

    Ken: Love the crystalized thought: Time winnowed, and we think that what is left standing (either as a result of quality, or of reverential care), as the norm of the period.


    I also really like the Balinese saying Jon.

    I do believe that it is safe to say, after perusing this blog for many weeks, that in fact, I have been attending the altogether wrong sort of dinner parties…

    – Zhirem

  25. John, I found the opening quote in this post very resonant. I’m an artist (filmmaker) who came to Baghdad eleven months ago to work and pay off my debts from grad school. A lot of people thought I was nuts, but it was the fastest route I could find to get back to being an artist and not a guy living to serve his debts, all 72 thousand of them. It’s a decision I don’t regret.

    Baghdad is a kiln. I was much more pliable before I arrived. After living as a witness in one small corner of the war for nearly a year (It’s an immoral supernova of stupidity and waste) I’ve hardened up. When things here have been at their worst, I’ve felt the strength of this refusal in myself swell. The truth here is a hard one, but what I’ve realized is that there is no set of circumstances, no politician, no war, no wrong that I’m willing to bow down and quit for. This refusal, put another way, is an insuppressible expression of hope. This is why I jump out of my seat when I hear Mr. Obama talk about hope. Hope and optimism are the companions of courage. For all of us who feel we’ve been trounced on for the last seven years, we need to dig deep and find the courage to take our country back. To take our ideals back. There are so many voices propagating fear and xenophobia. These people are cowards to me. They don’t have the will to overcome anything, they’d rather fall back on a flag pin fight, and a sound bite about a preacher. I want to tell everyone this: I’m in Iraq and I’m seeing it up close. There is no easy solution or right answer; we are in a lose-lose situation. When you cast your votes, don’t vote for the person you think can do the best fix-it on this war, vote for the person who makes you believe in yourself and our country the most and in doing so you’ll have made the best, most moral decision on the war as well.

    Now, about the absence of artists with the salt to stand up to the man, I disagree. You named a few giants there, but those giants also came along at critical moments in their respective forms. Those forms were also at their peaks. Rock and Roll isn’t dead, but it’s definitely not what it was in the late 60s, but Haiku isn’t the happening thing in Japan either. The point is that for artists the lines between forms and genres are a lot thinner they appear to non-artists. What ever the hot thing is, there will be young geniuses and bold experimentalist to define it. Nature will provide. The question is, what does our society want to do with them? At the moment in America, the substantial cost of becoming an artist is set quite squarely on the artist’s shoulders. How many kids learn music in public school? Painting, sculpture, photography, graphics, animation? Forget about it. It’s a very long expensive undertaking to become a developed artist. How many parents look at their kids and think, ‘boy I hope my kid becomes an artist’? It’s an undertaking often left for losers, wierdos and underdogs, and I think that’s where much of the refusal is born.

    All the white noise is a problem. Agnes Varda, the mother of the French New Wave spoke at my school about this. There’s so much work, even if its good, how can one see it all? How do we find it? In one respect, I think having so much buzz and crackle in the air has helped get some of us back to what (folk) art was about a hundred years ago. The channels are so clogged and jammed, its just a lot more fun to take my films over to friends homes and show them there. Communications minus the mass, it’s a pleasure. I would love to see a return of salon culture come along and reset the clock. Aren’t we all just a little bit lonely in front of our computers?

    Cy Kuckenbaker

  26. Greg says:


    Correction duly noted. I won’t make that mistake again. I guess I was thinking of my folks who are in their 60’s. They are quite intelligent, upstanding members of their communities, but are still learning to use firefox, etc… A videogame to them would seem hokem.

    My last job I was sys-admin for University faculty, and tended to see a large body of smart people who had gamed in college perhaps (Castle Wolfenstein, dude!), but now only used email, iPhoto, Web… Many were pseudo-web-savvy, but narry any actually played games. (unless it was their dirty little secret)

    It’s good to hear that you and some of your friends are playing games. Certain games, (Fallout 1 & 2 come to mind) utilize some brilliant story-telling that leaves me tickled to this day, and there are many more.

    Although, like Sturgeon’s Law dictates, at least 90% is crap and one must navigate with care, lest suffer an accidental lobotomy.

  27. Azmanon says:

    Anyone familiar with Theodor Adorno’s writings on the Culture Industry? What he picked up on (already back in the 1940’s) was that culture was no longer produced by people (artists), but by industries, anonymous entities aiming to transform artifacts of traditional cultures into mass market products, commodities to be bought and sold. This is indeed what happened. The artists didn’t go anywhere. Either they get absorbed into the industries or are relegated to the fringes to live in their own world or try their luck at the art market.

    Trying to give artists a serious role in society these day would be like attempting to get a 75 year old person to compete professionally in sports after they’ve driven a car and watched TV their whole life.

  28. Another Jon says:


    I am not familiar with the writings of Adorno, and would differ only slightly with this line of thinking. My difference lies in the fact that culture is still created by individuals, but tends to get co-opted and commodified by industry for mass appeal. When this happens the source becomes lost and what results is some bastardized version of culture. But still culture none-the-less. It goes back to what Hugh mentioned some a couple fo posts previous that I thought was quite succinct when he framed the current discussion being one of art as it exists in the realm of mass media where commodified art and the art of commodification become indistinguishable. There is even a Japanese artist, Takashi Murikami, that is knee-deep in this grey area of the edgeless. Need and desire…go get your Louis Vuitton.

    And Jon, I agree whole-heartedly. The white noise can be deafening. The only offering of wisdom I have when it comes to this mess is my own personal strategy for avoiding it. That is to surround myself with filters…this little web community you have created being one of them. I hope the filter can grow.

    Although…every once in a while it is breached and some noise about painting the buildings of an entire city block with photons of light squeek through. I would think the alternative to that would be to hold the architects accountable for making ugly buildings instead of covering them with epileptic light shows. Maybe they can play some Fatboy Slim at the same time and really send us over the edge. I DO try not to judge….I promise.

    And Ken, thank you for stating so simply what was in my head during this whole conversation.

    I might have to go re-read “Critique of Judgment” now to keep up….

  29. Morgan Warstler says:

    AJ, do you like Murikami?

  30. Another Jon says:

    Morgan, I am more a fan of Haruki (The Wind Up Bird Chronicle) than Takeshi. I appreciate what T. Murikami does, but it is not my bag, and it is not particularly original. But these are themes I am interested in so I pay attention. So while I would never purchase anything he produced, I would probably not miss one of his exhibits when given the opportunity to check it out.

    The reason I brought him up is because his work encompasses most of the themes we have been discussing. That being art as commodity in relation to mass media and culture (aesthetics has no place here). He purposefully straddles this line in a way not seen since Warhol (I am pretty sure Michael Heizer would like to eat T. Murikami alive). In my mind he is traveling in a fairly straight trajectory from Duchamp, through Warhol, and making a B-Line straight for….Karl Lagerfeld!

    Heh….so the fashion thing does not surprise me.

    He could even be used as a case study for delving into these ideas more thoroughly. Although I would bet there are some smart advertising students beating us to it. It is a no-brainer.

    Are you a fan?

  31. Morgan Warstler says:

    I’m a fan because I think it is more pure than most other “art.”

    I grew up reading the diary of a pretty well considered artist. She never went for the money, and always asserted that doing so would ruin her seat at the games (her ability to observe), and in the next breath, she’d long for the money, and hate the ones who had sold out, and then wish she had their clothes.

    In all things there are two sides, but in all things one side is at minimum slightly stronger. Between art and commerce, in the dichotomy between art and marketing, I know categorically it is unfair to ask artists to be poor to still be real, because then only shitheads and second-raters will do it. If you want the most talented to be artists (and almost anyone can), then you don’t discount the dangling of riches.

    I also know that the real reason the luxury goods market has become stable enuff for LVMHY and others to go public, is because of the knock-off market.

    The cheapest form of “true” advertising is for the poor chicks to carry the fake bag. The first thing any gal says when she shows you her’s, is “it’s real.” She doesn’t say she loves the new design, she doesn’t say she loves the colors. The single biggest point worth mentioning is that she spent $2K more than the poor chicks – who have ADMITTED they love the bag, because they carry the fake.

    And one of the Morgan’s law of good advertising is guarantee the buyer people will be impressed with their purchase.

    So, yes, I like the artist. Also, I used to have fake LV waster paper baskets all over my house – because LV doesn’t make trashbins, and the number of compliments I got, and the joy of explaining it, was priceless.

  32. Ken Ballweg says:

    There’s an interesting twist, given Jon’s (original not AJ) lament for the lack of current giants. if you know Haruki Murikami’s work you may find yourself thinking, “Well, now there, coincidentally, is a giant body of consistently good work that will last, and probably be canonized at some point as “classic”. Will it twist the direction of literature?? Probably not, since it’s such a unique voice that any attempt to build or borrow will pale rapidly.

    Just a writer who is artist and craftsman, quite contemporary (one of the better for me), who makes a good living, and would be impossible to turn into a commodity. You will not be seeing “Hard Boiled Wonderland” in a cineplex near you anytime soon. Several of his books are as original and involving (looking for an alternative to “shocking”) as Welles’ Kane, and every bit as apt to last.

    Because it’s print (cool media) there isn’t the general agreement “this is good stuff”; no crowds around this work. But it is as great as anything created by the artists Jon cites in his initial lament of loss to crowd values.

    I suspect someone was on overload from the trip, and Singapore in general. Take a walk in the woods Jon while listening to Keith Jarrett’s Carnegie Hall concert. Great art is all around, still. Such as it ever was.

  33. Ken Ballweg says:

    God, how did that smiley get there?

    Mustn’t type late at night. Fingers betray me.

    PS: Jon, can WordPress allow a bigger comment input box. It’s hard to word smith on a postage stamp.

  34. Azmanon says:

    Another Jon, I quite agree with you and of course I understand all art and ideas come from individuals. Adorno in fact was not critical of what he called the culture industry but was merely trying to pinpoint what was happening at the time. At this point its nearly impossible for us to think about culture free from the industry, because as soon as any song is heard or image seen by more than a handful of people its already part of some aspect of the industry.

    As much as it seems logical, I don’t see how or why culture should go back to what is was in pre-industrial form. So the question remains how can our approach to culture evolve along with our approaches to more diversified and sustainable social, economic, and energy practices? (These are all too interconnected to be treated separately).

    I think we’re starting by increasing the strength of the signals to cut through all the noise.

  35. rhb says:

    And what the hell happened to Biff Rose?

  36. Ken Ballweg says:

    Well played Mr. Warstler. I think you may have closed this thread.

  37. Morgan Warstler says:

    One takes compliments wherever and when ever one finds them.

  38. Hugo says:

    And then, you might wish to consider Democracy as a verb and a quintessentially aesthetic pursuit, one which necessarily comprises the organized arts, but which also asks the citizen to be not less than an artist. No metaphor; no simile; no allegory or equivalency. Just what it says: Democracy as the doing of art.

    That, in a nutshell, is half a century’s worth of John Dewey. Heavy, huh. It’s happened, though, right under our noses. And from that a Pragmatist would conclude, among other things, that it can happen again.

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  41. Marv says:

    I think we need to “get back” by making sure that kids are aware of the arts and how they can make art that can inspire and hope that they grow into the Joseph Beuys and Francesco Clementes of tomorrow – tell the kids to get started here:

  42. Hugo says:

    Thank you, Mary. Will do, at this end. Let’s also tell the adults, as all need Civics learning, lickety-split, henceforth and forevermore…

  43. Hugo says:

    As “Pragmatism”, in the U.S., still means: What works…

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