Art for

Contents

Cultural Revolution

The cultural nature of politics, the political nature of culture: these have formed the main quandary debated by left intellectuals, mainly among themselves (and there lies much of the trouble), over the twenty some years since the oldest of us went off to colleges where Theory and Cultural Studies were all the impotent rage.

White Indians

The South Asian presence on TV is also evidence of the enormous power of the South Asian diaspora . No immigrant group in the US is so uniformly rich, so well placed in professional and executive ranks, so widely dispersed and integrated into wealthy white society. We have the Booker Prize on lock! Bengalis rule postcolonial studies. The motel business is mostly run by Gujaratis.

Too Much Sociology

This spread of sociological thinking has led to sociological living — ways of thinking and seeing that are constructed in order to carry out, yet somehow escape, the relentless demystification sociology requires. Seeing art as a product, mere stuff, rather than a work, has become a sign of a good liberal (as opposed to bad elitist) state of mind.

Tarnac, General Store

The offices themselves were in perfect opposition to Alain Bauer’s clean-cut image. They were small and untidy, cluttered with crates of books and disordered folders. Every inch of the walls was covered in letters of mission, distinctions, diplomas, and, finally, a photo of Bauer and Nicolas Sarkozy, then minister of the interior. Sarkozy appears as small and nervous as Bauer does strong and cold. The snapshot had the best spot in the office, the most valuable location, where the whole team could admire it several times a day: above the photocopier.

What Do You Desire?

San Francisco’s sexual vanguard might overuse words like “consciousness” and “mindfulness,” but the success of their politicization of sex had repercussions that reached across the country. The mind-set could sometimes seem grim, or at least all that talking kind of dampened the feeling of spontaneity. But they meant it: “Polyamory is a decolonizing force,” one person explained to me. “If you want to transform society, it includes our intimate relations.”

The Merce Cunningham Archives

Cunningham’s own notes on choreography often look like cave paintings. Stick figures march unevenly across the page, followed by diagrams and phrases, some barely legible, scribbled beside leaning columns of numbers. They communicate the inspired tremor of the hand more than they convey information.

Sadomodernism

Haneke has often said, referring to the unhappy ending of The Piano Teacher, that he aims “to rape the spectator into autonomy.” He abuses his audience in order to make us self-aware and liberate us from bad habits. Critics have mostly taken him at his word, repeating the sleight of rhetoric that conflates the act of analyzing and violating movie conventions with bashing in the skull of an animal.

Heads Ain’t Ready

I had no plans, and my high school friend Rob told me that he was moving to New York with his friend Al “to rock.” That was enough for me—it gave me some purpose.

Depiction is Not Endorsement: Film Chronicle 2012

“At the same time everyone unknowingly becomes accustomed to the horror, which little by little is accepted by morality, and will quickly become part of the mental landscape of modern man; who, the next time, will be able to be surprised or irritated at that which will in effect have ceased to be shocking?”

Balibarism!

At a debate in southern California in 2007, the French philosopher Alain Badiou informed the French philosopher Étienne Balibar that he, Balibar, was a reformist. “And you, monsieur,” Balibar replied, “are a theologian.” Both of these epithets say something, alas, about why Badiou, sells better in America than Balibar. Reform sounds like a chore. But left-wing theology! That has an occult, revolutionary ring to it.

Letters

If the internet “is” women, as the “Intellectual Situation” says it is, I’m disappointed that you didn’t see fit to mention the internet’s accelerating pauperization of freelance writers and draw the obvious analogy: that writers are being asked to work for free because supposedly they’re doing what they love, just as women are doing what they love when they stay home and cook and change diapers.