Friday, November 2, 2012

The supposition that art is a gift as opposed to a collectible, something that doesn’t try to sell you anything, runs counter to our contemporary notions of what constitutes a meaningful exchange. (See The Gift by

“The existence of a civilization presupposes a public that has both the time, and the need, to draw sustenance from the high-wire acts of the artistic imagination. The United States never has produced such a public in commercial quantity, a fact remarked upon by the art historian Robert Hughes in The Shock of the New, who also wrote: “Art discovers its true social use, not on the ideological plane, but by opening the passage from feeling to meaning -- not for everyone, since that would be impossible, but for those who want to try. This impulse seems to be immortal.”

Happily so.

What blocks the passage from feeling to meaning is the replacing of the thing itself with the price or theory of the thing, which is the difference between money and art as the universal medium of human exchange proposed by Arthur Schopenhauer: “Money is human happiness in abstracto, consequently he who is no longer capable of happiness in concreto sets his whole heart on money.”

This dictum accords with the twentieth century’s wars and devourings of the Earth, accounts for the modernistic expressions of alienation and despair, speaks to the price paid for [a consumption based, market economy].

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