Cud Quotes: Baudelaire, Blake, Bourgeois

by Titus OBrien September 13, 2008

louise.jpgHow utterly unfashionable these sentiments are! Take em or leave em. Apologies in advance to Sean Carroll.


“Art is a privilege, a blessing, a relief…I had to pursue
it, even more than the privilege of having children. The privilege is the
access to the unconscious. I had to be worthy of this privilege, and exercise
it…You have to have the courage to face risk. You have to have independence.
All these things are gifts, they are blessings.


Art is not about art. It is about life, and that sums it up.”


Louise Bourgeois


“Each day art further diminishes its self-respect by bowing
down before external reality.”




“Imagination is the real and eternal world
of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.”

William Blake



salvo cheque May 12, 2008 - 22:39

“I assume NAT23 will likely be one of, if not the last show before they close down for renovations.”

RESET/PLAY, Rapture in Rupture, and Matt Stokes: These Are the Days
take Arthouse well into 2009. Check out the upcoming exhibitions page on Arthouse’s site.

rachel May 14, 2008 - 10:27

Christ on Bike! the texas biennial worked with a new company and had major problems posting obviously. We are very happy that the online form is now working

We hope that the fine artists of Texas will still see fit to enter this show. The entire Texas Biennial Organization (of art gypsies) is truely sorry for the delay and any frustrations that resulted. Please help us spread the word that the show form is back on track, and taking entries. Juror Michael Duncan will be visiting Austin in June and we can’t wait to show him what Texas has going on.

Rachel Koper

Trungpa Ricochet September 14, 2008 - 11:52

Joist wrote “Ulysses” and Girder wrote “Faust”. 🙂

Speaking of which, Girder wrote, “Alles vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis.” (Everything fleeting is a glimpse {of that which is eternal}) This is quite a bit like Blake too, of course.
It’s too bad that the world would find the things you chose to quote here unfashionable. Art IS about life. To slightly contradict Baudelaire, I would suggest that evoking external reality (die Vergängliche) does not diminish art if that external reality poetically reminds us of what is unvergängliche. I happen to love external reality, but I try to depict its nature as pointing to, and participating in, the eternal. I expect that a lot of art world people find this attitude daft and unfashionable, but it’s what I have found enduring beyond fashion.

Asshole September 14, 2008 - 12:02

I would suspect the translation of this Baudelaire quote would suffice, ‘bow down’ is the idea here, something that inters anything other deserves not to be bowed to, but the place marker or the line is alternately being moved and removed, well if one if of such a certain class.

Good quotes Titus.

Asshole September 14, 2008 - 12:04

The second ‘if’ should read ‘is’, you know, ‘is’.

Trungpa Ricochet September 14, 2008 - 12:24

I believe Baudelaire meant to decry art that was slavishly realistic or too involved with the strict appearances of things, and he was against the academic tradition. He championed imagination, hallucinations, drug use, drunkenness, mental illness, and anything that broke through everyday experience.

Asshole September 14, 2008 - 13:26

Are the known and unknown on equal footing? Methinks it’s a class war.

Trungpa Ricochet September 14, 2008 - 23:17

Baudelaire was pretty much apolitical, except in the sense that he found bourgeois taste to be boring. I would liken him to twentieth-century personalities like Jim Morrison, whose most political act was to pull out his dick on stage. “Epater la bourgeoisie” as an artist’s battle cry is almost quaint by now, the core idea being tied to Modernism or some notion of progress, even if “progress” means shock value. What is shocking today is nearly always quickly rendered toothless by advertising and other media exposure. Is anything shocking any more, except to those Republican Christian fundamentalists whose world view is beyond persuasion anyway? Addressing the known and the unknown isn’t so much about class as it is about intelligence or sensibility. If art is truly innovative, it speaks from the Unknown. It expands the definition of the known while retaining certain qualities open-ended and undefined. The unknown or the unconscious will always be infinitely larger than the known or the conscious. What brings delight or even what provokes is the recognition of a new experience. The unknown becomes the known in that sense.

Asshole September 15, 2008 - 00:39

Like on Law and Order, you opened the door to some rearing of some sort.

“things that think through me or I through them”

Wow Trungpa, I would think even as much as Jim Morrison’s music and poetry has wallpapered a large part of our public space that his political meaning is more that his penis out of his pants, even then. What I find most endearing about Morrison are his origins, his father was a Navy Admiral during the Vietnam era. Somehow he taking this lineage and ramming it into some other archetypal vein says much. Look around at another admiral’s son and his take. I agree simply rejecting the supposed social order…let me pull a Baudelaire off the shelf…”Writing about the only known painting, Still Life with a Bride, of another seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Johannes Torrentius (1589-1644), who like Baudelaire was prosecuted by an intensely bourgeois government for offenses against sexual morality and God, Zbigniew Herbert says, “As a legacy he left us an allegory of restraint, a work of great discipline, self-knowledge, and order, contradicting his reckless existential experience.”

The aspect of that quote that I relate to is the reminder that Baudelaire and his contemporaries were not simply denouncing the bourgeois for shock, they did at their own peril, legally and otherwise. Not as simple a ploy nowadays. Reading a book the other day about a guy who while doing some ceremony or other in Brazil, Daime or something, has a dream of an Indian warrior he was unfamiliar with, sobers up, looks up this Indian fellow to find out he was quite the famous warrior figure in India. After many battles and many thousands of deaths this guy, Ashoka, feels he has erred, he becomes something of a Buddhist, he says, “If one man kills a hundred men, and another man masters himself, that second man is the much greater warrior.” I know I’m lecturing sort of, but this to me relates to Morrison’s choice of what to master, follow his father as other admiral’s sons, kill hundreds or thousands or pull his penis out on stage? As we know one admiral’s son was prosecuted for flashing his worm while another one is maniacally lusting for power.

I think the current bourgeois is something of a class of stupidity which leaves me always wondering how does one shock the current bourgeois when they’ve chosen an impenetrable defense: idiocy.

Trungpa Ricochet September 15, 2008 - 01:47

Good points. My opinions have somehow caused you to clarify yourself, too! I couldn’t quite understand your post about the translation. Interesting and valid comparison between Morrison and McCain.

I don’t think that Morrison achieved anything political by provoking an arrest for lewdness. I wish he had. His actions were not as well-thought out as you suggest. He was loaded and pretty well on his way to passing out when he whipped out his willie. Did he master himself, like Ashoka? I don’t doubt for a moment his talent when he was sober. However, he was not a master of himself at all.

You and I feel Morrison’s influence as wallpaper, but are we in the middle of our culture, taking an accurate measure? As much as we want art to influence most people’s lives, the longer I live, the less I am able to detect the effect it seems to have on the outcome of events. Ask the supporters of McCain and Palin how The Doors have changed their lives. I agree with you wholeheartedly about bourgeois stupidity, then and now. Only now it’s much, much worse, retreating toward something way beyond the influence of art. Art lives in another world. I just don’t think America has enough collective respect to allow it a real spot in the way things turn out.

Asshole September 15, 2008 - 22:26

Weeelll Trungpa I’m not how much clarification has been yet achieved…when I hear ‘break on through to the other side’ I kind of snicker, but you know what, in a different context neither of us would snicker. But somehow that marker, does have something to offer in a political sense. Not to make this exchange about that guy all the way but some element…you know, organizations which re-up transgressors when the opportunity is proper…say when a Queen knights a rebellious rock star, or as you mentioned above capitalism absorbs defiance…what is this that absorbs an ‘I’m not going to kill for your flaccid public family jewel?’ Did the audience ‘bow down’ before the unruly pencil? I’ve looked but can’t seem to find the passage where Joist mentions four rules between pornography and the other end of the spectrum, one rule was something about not eliciting…not eliciting…help me out here. I was supposed to remember the words of Joist and then the Admiral’s son didn’t do it because the lizard was stewed, which made it something by default.

Trungpa Ricochet September 16, 2008 - 00:50

In Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, Stephen says, in refining the idea of the tragic in Aristotle’s Poetics, “The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, toward terror and toward pity, both of which are phases of it. You see I use the word arrest. I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire and loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I use the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.”

Further on Stephen elaborates, using Thomas Aquinas’ idea of beauty requiring “wholeness, harmony, and radiance”.

It’s very interesting to me how you got here with this discussion, because this esthetic touches on what I refer to in my first post regarding the depiction of nature as pointing to, and participating in, the eternal. It’s actually, for me, the reason I abandoned political references in my own work some time ago. I understand your argument about Morrison’s position as an artist as political, and in that sense I agree. Whenever anybody, Baudelaire, Wilde, or Morrison is prosecuted on charges regarding morality, it’s always arguable to question the ground rules about what is or is not moral…it’s a similar argument with censorship in film or television: what’s obscene, sex or violence? To Joyce, both are improper because they elicit desire and loathing, respectively.

Compare Joyce to the ideas in the Buddhist Kalachakra. Lust and Greed, equivalent to Desire, are two of the three emotions that keep the wheel going…the third one being Anger, which can be seen as Loathing. Joyce’s idea of the static apprehension of the esthetic experience is very close to the non-attachment of Buddhism.

Asshole September 16, 2008 - 07:38

Wow, thanks for that answer Trungpa.

Trungpa Ricochet September 16, 2008 - 10:02

You’re welcome. It’s been fun.

b.s. September 23, 2008 - 13:08

OMG I hate you guys.

Asshole September 28, 2008 - 09:33

Nice ruined wall b.s…I was wondering how long it would take to get a rise out of you.


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