Quote notes (#20)

Sailer’s review of Blomkamp’s Elysium is indeed a “self-recommending” masterpiece, and not just for this:

The notion that art is about equality and niceness is just a cover story put out by artists to keep us poor schlumps from realizing what they are up to. Art, from the Great Pyramid on down, is actually about the most talented and/or self-confident bullying the rest of us into furnishing them with the resources to realize their visions, while the nice liberal dweebs pass on to us the artists’ self-serving justifications.

[There’s even a jolt of Kurtz to keep the horror flowing]

August 16, 2013admin 7 Comments »
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7 Responses to this entry

  • Rasputin's Severed Penis Says:

    “The notion that art is about equality and niceness is just a cover story put out by artists to keep us poor schlumps from realizing what they are up to…” If only.

    In the UK, the Cathedral has systematically and terminally infected ‘contemporary art’ and comprehensively bent it to its will. It has done this through its organs (education and the media) and through providing state funding for projects, which basically comprise a Faustian pact with the Catherdral. Furthermore, the gallery system has increasingly absorbed this political directive and more or less exclusively reflects the same set of values / beliefs through its high-end consumer products. I find it virtually impossible to find anyone involved in the contemporary art world that isn’t expressly committed to Cathedralist values, even if they are a collector financing their collection through the arms trade, in which case they seem to sing the song of the Cathedral even more loudly lest their business interests cast a shadow over their representations of progressivism.


    admin Reply:

    I think the key to making this work is brutal selectivity about what counts as ‘art’ — i.e. complete indifference to its broad (or sociological) definition. (Still, I entirely get your point.)


    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 10:55 am Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin's Severed Penis Says:

    Amongst other things, I am currently trying to figure out if applying game theory to contemporary art can provide an insightful picture of its mechanics. I suspect that contemporary artists orientate themselves according to Schelling Points in exactly the same way that lawers do. And that just as the law is based on a dialectic of legal convention and legal president, contemporary art ‘progresses’ – or is propelled – by the same mechanism. The economy of the arts is such that aesthetic ‘advances’ are made by the few but shored up by the many i.e. when a relatively established artist is perceived to have done something in some way important / novel it is incorporated into the lexicon i) by its inclusion in art discourse (from which its ‘aura’ as art is derived) ii) through its repetition by other less established artists who comprise the multitude of people involved in ‘working’ / ‘believing’ in contemporary art. I expect that this process is somewhat different in relation to cinema / TV because it doesn’t require the same level of alchemic ‘belief’ from its audience to function effectively and isn’t based around the cult of the original, unique art object historically. I also suppose that the relative standardisation of the form, alongside the wider non-belief based appeal to a wider audience, gives the later a much longer leash to flirt with a reactionary narrative. For instance, I find the fantasy world of Game of Thrones (reasonably) compelling because it provides something of a holiday from the Con-Dem / Guardian Cathedralist moral irreality, relentlessly expressed in the mainstream media, and suspect that on some level many other people feel the same way and that this popular sentiment is a large contributing factor towards its success. We are undoubtedly living though a period in which there is more truth and reality to be found in ‘out’ fantasy than in all the news and governmental policy making put together.


    j. ont. Reply:

    Interesting to note (though perhaps only tangentially related to your very interesting points):

    In the original House of Cards miniseries the protagonist (the “antihero”) is a die-hard tory, with latent Machiavellian inclinations triggered by a betrayal early in the narrative (he was promised a position that he is later denied). He makes it clear through his actions that he still, on some level at least, “believes” in his conservative values.

    In the newer series the protagonist is a nominal Democrat, who very openly admits (to us, the audience) to his total lack of ideology. His singular goal is (and seemingly always has been) the acquisition of power; he wears his lack of actual political affiliation as a badge of honour.

    This shift has haunted me for some time now, ever since I watched both shows. It seems like a small detail, but I suspect that Spacey’s character’s lack of political specificity is integral to the success of the show. This is similar to the success of the Nolan Batman films (mentioned by Sailer above); how could Batman be anything but a Hobbesian Leviathan? Nevertheless, we have progressives lining up around the block for a midnight showing.


    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 1:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    @Rasputin’s Severed Penis

    I would say the reason contemporary art is a fertile ground for cathedralist values is that it’s all garbage. Painting is a dead art form if ever there was one. (Quick — name three famous painters of the past 50 years.) So are sculpture, poetry and classical music. Nobody with a true sense of what art really means even goes IN to these fields anymore. So ithey’re really just signaling devices to denote “I am cultured.”

    Movies are the only remaining art form that is truly alive — and the technology is about 100 years old at this point so we’re ripe for some kind of disruptive force. (I thought virtual reality would be the new ground for art but my relatives in that realm tell me, “Nah … gamers just want to blow stuff up.”


    Posted on August 18th, 2013 at 7:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kgaard Says:

    I went to see Elysium Friday night on Sailer’s recommendation and it’s a great movie. I am recommending it to all my clients on Sailerian grounds. One point I think Sailer may have glossed over is the degree to which capitalism itself creates the trashy conditions that the 1% want to escape from. As work becomes more brain-deadening for the bottom 50%, their aesthetics get worse (see the epidemic of tattoos). Dysgenic breeding makes people less empathetic and consciencious, even if, from a strictly operational standpoint, the average person’s functional IQ may actually rise steadily.

    I don’t think earth will be as trashy as the movie suggests in 2154. What Blomkamp misses is that some parts of the Latino world are cleaning up quite nicely. I’m thinking in particular of the nicer parts of Lima, Peru, which look a lot like 1950s coastal California. I could totally live in Lima now. Also, as birth rates decline, more resources will be funneled to each child, potentially offsetting some of the tackiness now onslaught-ing us from the masses. Here again, Peru offers a great example of this. Resources available to spend per child have soared as birth rates have fallen and GDP has risen.


    Scharlach Reply:

    Nice parts of South America are predominantly Ibizan, German, or Jewish. Or Asian. There are quite a few Asians in Lima. Uruguay, which is 95% “White Hispanic,” is nicer than many parts of America. Montevideo is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s like Paris with palm trees. And Uruguayan girls are about as Euro-chic as you get outside of Europe: Google “Veronica Zoppolo.”


    Elysium was interesting. I watched it with a leftist friend, for whom everything is political. I asked him whether or not he thought Blomkamp’s decision to shoot the future Los Angeles in Mexico City wasn’t an interesting political decision. He couldn’t figure out what I was getting at because he just assumed the movie was a call for open borders.

    I definitely noticed the comparisons to Idiocracy. The hospital sign in Elysium is crooked and missing letters.

    I worked as a script reader at a Hollywood production company while in college, and the kind of leftism you encounter behind the camera is typically benign. Sometimes it’s even a libertarian leftism. Mostly it’s just unthinking acceptance of popular piety that is quickly forgotten after a few drinks. Most screenwriters and directors honestly just want to tell a good story; sometimes that means pulling from certain leftist tropes (the downtrodden but wise black woman who rises to become a neurosurgeon), but for them it IS a trope, not a conscious political point. Now, in television, which is a much more collaborative and non- hierarchical kind of filmmaking, you do find more outspoken progressives, but that may be changing. Many of the cable TV shows are being made outside the networks of the old proggy networks. But like Sailer implies, it takes a certain kind of Randian to make it in the film industry proper. Even if you’re Spielberg’s nephew, if you fuck up once, you’re done.

    And this election map is telling:


    The areas in the Southland (not the farflung desert regions) that went for Romney or split more evenly for Obama are some of the richest areas in So Cal, where a lot of the Hollywood money lives. Hell, Beverly Hills voted Romney. And Orange County, which is full of retired filmmakers, always goes Republican. So I think Sailer is absolutely right when he says that the pansy-assed progs writing for the NY Times Movie Review are apt to read into things that aren’t really there. (I mean, for Christ’s sake, they raved about True Grit, which has as its hero one of Bill Quantrill’s raiders and was written by Charles Portis, an old Marine from the American South whose books just drip with racial innuendos.)


    Posted on August 18th, 2013 at 8:00 pm Reply | Quote

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