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Blogger Book Club II: Beautiful Meaninglessness

By Devin Hurd This is not rocket science. Ignorance is as good a reason to speculate as impudence or curiosity. Thousands of brilliant readings have arisen out of ignorance--some of them mine, none of them Freud's. Did I read this right? Is Dave Hickey praising his own ignorance at the expense of Sigmund Freud? This is a strange turn in a book of essays that has more than its share of strange turns and flare-ups of intellectual anger. On the other hand: The subject here is "beauty"--not what it … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Wrestling With Beauty

By Alexandra Gardner Okay, I admit it--this book made my head spin. In order to reframe some ideas that I absolutely do find applicable to music, I kept imagining silly scenarios that would illustrate the different ways in which beauty can be dangerous. *** Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Attention spectators! Welcome to a rivalry that is centuries old. These two opponents have been challenging one another for as long as anyone can remember, and every match is different. One never knows how things will … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Musician in the Middle

By Amanda MacBlaneHickey's interpretation of the dominant-submissive dynamic between a work of art and its beholder, drawing on Gilles Deleuze's analysis of Masoch and Sade, claims that: The traditional, contractual alliance between the image and its beholder (of which beauty is the signature, and in which there is no presumption of received virtue) has been supplanted by a hierarchical one between art, presumed virtuous, and a beholder presumed in need of it. This is the signature of the … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Painfully Normal and Incredibly Sincere

I just reread all the posts we've contributed to book club this week and, like Matthew, am feeling well satisfied that the time we've invested in wrestling with Hickey's text and trying it on in a music context was an investment well made. Vamping in front of a mirror is almost always guaranteed fun, whether you intend to buy the dress or not. One issue that hasn't come up here yet is the idea that some of what Hickey finds missing in today's art is not missing from the art itself but from the … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Something I Liked

By Matthew Guerrieri This week's discussion of Hickey's book around these parts has been by and large skeptical-critical, which kind of gives the impression that the book was a chore. But (for me, at least) I had a good time disagreeing with it--I read the book a second time and had more fun disagreeing with it. So, just to say thank you for by far the highest-quality procrastination of the week, here's something I liked about the book: Hickey's defense of French Structuralism.Somehow, the … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: I don’t know if she’s beautiful, but she’s HOT

By Marc GeelhoedI was struck by the radically American democratic call to arms (I almost wrote cri de coeur) that runs through each of Hickey's five essays. He writes, "Art is either a democratic political instrument, or it is not," on page 15, about the response of Senator Jesse Helms to Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs, and goes on to write later about the value of an essentially intuited notion of "beauty" that should govern our choices about what is valuable in art as well as what the … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Two-Lane Flattop

By Matthew GuerrieriHere's where he really lost me:In the restructured modernist dynamic, the role of the beholder is to be dominsated and awestruck by the work of art, which undergoes a sex change and is recast as a simulacrum of the male artist's autonomous, impenetrable self....Under these revised priorities, the validity of receding illusionistic space in painting was immediately called into question. This imaginary space had been traditionally, and quite rightly, perceived as "community … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: Does a Dragon Eat Its Tail?

By Marc Weidenbaum I've struggled with Dave Hickey's book. It's good to struggle, and I'm glad for this group, 'cause maybe I could get some help. It's a book about "beauty," and the appreciation of beauty, and the way that beauty isn't enough the subject of discussion and concern for those who are concerned with discussing art. I find that idea fascinating. Hickey dissects how beauty, the idea of beauty, is often ignored, and when he does so, it's like watching a highly experienced (if at times … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: A Game of Risk

Mind the Gap is getting some new guest visitors from Google, people searching for answers to big questions such as, "What is beauty?" After 2 a.m., who knows what windows open up that compel us to ask a machine such a question. Anyway, these late night visitors were of some comfort to me because Hickey's text has left me digging around deep in the mush of my own definitions of things. Much of my musing is focused on the ways in which institutions deflate the risk out of experiencing art, and the … [Read more...]

Blogger Book Club II: The Dragon Appears

By Corey DargelThe author, Dave Hickey, writes in response to the question of how to transplant his argument from visual art to music: The argument I'm making is essentially formal and abstract. It does presuppose culturally acquired musical assumptions, of course. I am proposing that works of art that are sufficiently patterned and sufficiently surprising are receptive to radical interpretation regardless of their narrative content. In culture, formal devices can take on ambient and often … [Read more...]

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