Monday, July 12, 2010

Irrational Degradation

My increasing attraction to gothic, hyperbolic and parodic rhetoric has me reading an excellent biography of George Bataille by Stuart Kendall. I've read the pornographic novels Story of the Eye and Blue of Noon, but Bataille's theoretical works have remained somewhat impenetrable. This brief summary of his ideas has me underlining every other sentence. I'm drawn to these elaborate, knotted and knotty words: lacerations, corrosive, monstrous, sacrificial...
Some juicy tidbits:
"It is clear that the world is purely parodic, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in a deceptive form." "A derivative work merely copies a respected original; a parody degrades that original with mocking mimicry, assaults its absent and abandoned authority. Parody is the literary equivalent of transgression, upholding as it undermines." "Materialism is above all the obstinate negation of all idealism, which amounts to saying, finally, of the basis of all philosophy." "Base matter 'refuses to allow itself to be reduced to the great ontological machines resulting from these [ideal human] aspirations'." "'I submit myself entirely to what must be called matter, since that exists outside of myself and the idea.' Base materialism is a corrosive sense of matter, one in which form ruins."
I've always been interested in extremes, seeking out those areas that push against, struggle with, reject, distort and interrogate the status quo - perhaps as a balance or foil to my lack of actual activity in such areas, my generally placid exterior. (Though I'm increasingly worried that bitterness and aggression leak through my social anxiety...) At any rate, it remains a theoretical interest in extremities, except perhaps in art practice.
Using extremes in work is a difficult proposal, however. How does a piece simultaneously invite and assault? The accusation of difficult work is that it excludes and is exclusive. Two impulses battle within my desire - that of appealing among a wider audience, which rubs against my own tastes in repetition, intensity, ugliness and confusion. Hopefully this friction can be productive. It creates a quivery feeling in my gut, a feeling of pushing against invisible (and therefore all the more resistant) walls. The difficulty of adapting the preverbal (or even precognitive) impulses into a clear, strong voice. A cloud that rests just beyond the reach of fingertips.
My favorite work remains uncompromising, theatrical, obsessive, elliptical... and obscure. Robert Ashley, Jerry Hunt, Costin Miereanu, Catherine Sullivan. I've been thinking more and more how my favorite artistic experience is one of unresolved confusion. A kind of sustained, elevated inability to make sense of things, suspended within formal precision and aesthetic integrity. The longer a work can resist my mind's struggle to find or impose coherence, the more I'm interested in returning, thinking and exploring.
Plunging into the dark shit which animates and balances the dynamic of existence.