17 December 2007

I'm Adding Stanley Fish To My Harem Of Old Men

Stanley Fish tippy-tapped his thoughts about the New Museum, sounding kind of like Charlie Finch's older, nicer brother. Or Eric Larsen's merely wistful, less histrionic colleague.

(EL, I know you hate Stanley Fish. I am making a point here)

And once again, it is important to respect one's elders! To actually read and love the Old Man Argument, and see the value in it without collapsing into that backward-looking, all younger people are stupider than older people and all the good galleries are closed and this old art is so superior to this new art gobbeldygook.

These are intellectual traps.

Stanley Fish. It's not about the inadequacy of the New Museum's cafe, or the cracks in its unpretentious-pretentious floor, or the fact that the stacked-box effect made you fussy.

It's not even about the superiority of permanence. You wrote, wistfully, that art once aspired to permanence, and that is about the most irrelevant thing art could aspire to right now. Look around you, man! The ice caps are melting and we, ourselves, are drowning in a sea of our own detritus, our own shopping bags and complex financial products and USB cables and wireless radiation. Everything is changing, and it had better! We are ripping apart the Middle East; becoming more economically similar to Mexico than any other developing country; out-Tancredoing Tancredo; refusing to admit that waterboarding is torture; buttfucking habeas corpus.

The last thing we need is to think of is permanence, because we are in trouble!

What you mean, perhaps, is that we can find meaning in all this ephemera, and the need for change, and the deep knowledge of transience without succumbing to mere crapulence. Transience, the fact that everything changes and is changing, is not an inferior idea to permanence. It's just that western culture is treating it that way right now. You are right about that.


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