28 July 2015

Before, During or After the Fireworks

Peter Schjeldahl, recently interviewed at the Brooklyn Rail...

"Aren’t feelings the only things in the universe that we can really know? They’re the actual us. Thoughts are just lawyers for our feelings. Memory is a pile of stories determined by feelings and constantly revised to fit new feelings. I guess the emphasis in my writing has to do with my never having been educated in art. I saw and loved art before I knew anything about it. I lucked out of the problem of learning about art before you see it — because you will always be dealing with that information at the expense of what moves you first-hand. I discovered very quickly in the ’60s that I was the world’s leading expert in my experience. And then I got praised for making the most of that. I think Jasper Johns said one of my favorite lines, which I remember vaguely but goes something like 'Style is only common sense. You figure out what people like about you, and you exaggerate it.'"

I'm assuming that by being "I was the world’s leading expert in my experience," Schjeldahl means something along the lines of: A first-hand authority on my own experiences. To the degree that: subjectivity vs. experience + subsequent knowledge and exposure = an expanded frame of reference in which to ground one's expertise/worldly compass.

Anyway: Noted, the way in which the matter of "feelings" -- and how "feelings aren't facts" -- turns up later in the interview in a wholly different context; but then dovetails into a bit about the place and presence of an artwork re intention and effect, and the matter of artistic failure(s), that last aspect being returned to later still:

"Looking at art is like, 'Here are the answers. What were the questions?' I think of it like espionage, 'walking the cat back' — why did that happen, and that? — and eventually you come to a point of irreducible mystery. With ninety percent of work the inquiry breaks down very quickly. You reach an explanation that is comprehensive and boring. Bad art, as any good artist will tell you, is the most instructive, because it’s naked in its decisions. Even adorably so. When something falls apart you can see what it’s made of. Whereas with a great artist, say Manet or Shakespeare, you’re left gawking like an idiot."

  © Blogger template 'Solitude' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP