Materialism/Mysticism (was Re: No Web Art in the Whitney Biennial?)

Posted by Eryk Salvaggio | Wed Nov 5th 2003 1:54 a.m.

(weirdest change of subject I've seen in a while)

Curt;

The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is that
they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people do).
This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing though
is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.

Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion- humanistic and
totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from freedom,
while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own freedom
and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think a lot
of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian Religion is
the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its aims
with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying disagreement is
unfortunate for both.

Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to struggle
towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God is
within each follower and allows each individual to reach their greatest
potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you get
the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far more
happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries fall so
quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over others
that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
political or spiritual.

Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at their
best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from much of
religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards understanding
enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart? He's a
Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations I have
of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose form to
emphasize its Marxist nature:

"Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself and
others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to buy what
refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how their eyes
weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy that
a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive than a
god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its wonder have
made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of life than
to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I imagine
erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars that
commerce loves."

It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would hold
such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it as an
extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism" in a
secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I mean
this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that conceptual
art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know Cage
and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)

-e.

----- Original Message -----
From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
To: <list@rhizome.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in the
Whitney Biennial?

> Michael Szpakowski wrote:
>
> > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
> > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
> > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
> > clothing, shelter.
> > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
> > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
> > themselves are pretty straightforward.
> > It's indubitably the case that without the things
> > above listed then
> > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
> > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
> > which I too value in all their glorious human
> > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
> > throughout history, would not occur.
>
> Hi Michael,
>
> I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that reproduction,
food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I don't know
whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even prime)
cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my head,
but not all my actions derive from that fact.
>
> If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I will
wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a spiritual
world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
material influences to spiritual causes.
>
> I believe a spiritual world exists.
>
> local mileage may vary,
> curt
> +
> -> post: list@rhizome.org
> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
> -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
> +
> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
>
  • curt cloninger | Wed Nov 5th 2003 4:18 a.m.
    >(weirdest change of subject I've seen in a while)

    agreed. the common thread seems to be why and for whom do we make art.

    Everybody wants to allegorize faith in God so they can analogize it
    to some sort of humanistic position. I'm convinced that I'm
    worshiping a God who is actually there. If I suddenly came to
    believe he wasn't there, the idea of continuing to worship him just
    to give myself some sort of morality or happy purpose or meaning or
    sense of being or whatever would just be ridiculous. The whole
    purpose of my faith is a dynamic, ongoing relationship with an actual
    living entity. There's nothing else to it but that.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Let's say there is a such a thing as a generic modernist position --
    people who are earnest and care and have some manifesto and want to
    make things better in some way but they want to do it themselves and
    leave God out of the equation.

    I agree with that position in that at least they hope, and think
    things can be better. I also hope and think things can be better.

    I disagree with their position because they think they can make
    things better without God. Often, they see "the myth of God" as part
    of the problem. I don't think we can make things better in our own
    natural wisdom and strength. As I've said before, things only get
    better when I am able to love someone I can't stand and prefer them
    over myself. I can't do that in the natural.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Let's say there is such a athing as a generic post-modern/late
    modern/post-structuralist position that says all positions are
    relative, there is no solution, things won't get better, so we might
    as well have some fun and stop killing ourselves trying to solve a
    problem without a solution.

    I agree with that position because it despairs of humanistic
    solutions. Which is why punk rockers and nihilists make sound
    Christians. They despair of everything but their one thing. cf:
    http://www.sarahmasen.com/dark/story.php/8

    I disagree with that generic post-modern position because it tears
    down and undermines hope, but it offers nothing but the void in
    return. Furthermore, I find certain activist flavors of this
    position inherently contradictory and cheesy. If the void actually
    does await, then why bother passionately trying to convince people of
    this fact? So they can be aware that the ship is inevitably going to
    sink before it inevitably does sink so that...? What? So that they
    can freely and bravely and definatly and with no delusions face the
    sinking ship? Egad.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Why don't I like most pure conceptual art? All world views aside,
    it's just boring to me. I get a lot more out of hiking in the woods
    than I do from looking at a trail map. I go to a restaurant to eat
    the food, not the menu. Most conceptual art tastes like the menu.

    Gnostics believe in a separation of matter and spirit, that matter is
    base and to be overcome. But Christians believe God made man in
    three integrated parts -- body, soul, and spirit. At the fall, death
    entered the world and the body started breaking. At the incarnation,
    God entered the world and became a man in order to buy back the body
    (among other things). Christian mysticism isn't about becoming
    nothing or escaping the body. It is (in part) about using the senses
    as a vehicle to spiritual stuff.

    Senses can dialogue with media. Pure conceptual art seeks to eschew
    the media object but actually winds up trafficking in its own thin
    media object -- the prose artist statement. This might seem
    spiritual to a gnostic. To me, it's actually a great way to avoid
    engaging the spirit altogether. It engages the mind at a soulish
    level. So does the McNeill Lehr Report.

    I certainly don't presume to offer my personal position on conceptual
    art as a definitive Christian position on conceptual art. It's just
    my personal opinion. To answer your question -- no, I don't think
    there is anything about conceptual art that inherently challenges
    faith in God.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    peace,
    curt

    __

    >Curt;
    >
    >The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is that
    >they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people do).
    >This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing though
    >is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.
    >
    >Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion- humanistic and
    >totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from freedom,
    >while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own freedom
    >and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think a lot
    >of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
    >mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian Religion is
    >the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its aims
    >with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying disagreement is
    >unfortunate for both.
    >
    >Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to struggle
    >towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God is
    >within each follower and allows each individual to reach their greatest
    >potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you get
    >the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far more
    >happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries fall so
    >quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over others
    >that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
    >political or spiritual.
    >
    >Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at their
    >best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
    >liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from much of
    >religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards understanding
    >enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart? He's a
    >Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations I have
    >of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose form to
    >emphasize its Marxist nature:
    >
    >"Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself and
    >others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to buy what
    >refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how their eyes
    >weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy that
    >a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive than a
    >god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its wonder have
    >made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of life than
    >to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I imagine
    >erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars that
    >commerce loves."
    >
    >It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would hold
    >such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it as an
    >extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism" in a
    >secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
    >someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
    >conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I mean
    >this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that conceptual
    >art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know Cage
    >and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)
    >
    >-e.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    >To: <list@rhizome.org>
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
    >Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in the
    >Whitney Biennial?
    >
    >
    >> Michael Szpakowski wrote:
    >>
    >> > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
    >> > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
    >> > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
    >> > clothing, shelter.
    >> > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
    >> > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
    >> > themselves are pretty straightforward.
    >> > It's indubitably the case that without the things
    > > > above listed then
    >> > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
    >> > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
    > > > which I too value in all their glorious human
    >> > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
    >> > throughout history, would not occur.
    >>
    >> Hi Michael,
    >>
    >> I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that reproduction,
    >food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I don't know
    >whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even prime)
    >cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my head,
    >but not all my actions derive from that fact.
    >>
    >> If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I will
    >wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a spiritual
    >world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    >material influences to spiritual causes.
    >>
    >> I believe a spiritual world exists.
    >>
    >> local mileage may vary,
    >> curt
    >> +
    >> -> post: list@rhizome.org
    >> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    >> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    >> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    >> -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    >> +
    >> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    >> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >>
  • Eryk Salvaggio | Wed Nov 5th 2003 5:40 a.m.
    Hi Curt; I am not saying any of this in some attempt to challenge your views
    on God, so if I seem condescending, I don't mean to; I actually do respect
    religion sincerely. I think people see religion as a belief/disbelief
    binary, and I don't subscribe to that- but I am not a gnostic either; I just
    really believe that the study of humanity is the study of God, so long as it
    is studied towards God and not as God.

    I don't want to change your views on conceptual art either. :) I just find
    our particular personal intersections interesting- a Religious person who
    doesn't like conceptual art, and a humanist who finds something sacred
    expressed in the "art of the pure idea." If it's all about taste, then de
    gustibus non est disputandem. But if you are willing to riff with me for a
    while, that'd be appreciated. To comment on a few points you make:

    > Let's say there is a such a thing as a generic modernist position --
    > people who are earnest and care and have some manifesto and want to
    > make things better in some way but they want to do it themselves and
    > leave God out of the equation.
    >
    > I agree with that position in that at least they hope, and think
    > things can be better. I also hope and think things can be better.
    >
    > I disagree with their position because they think they can make
    > things better without God. Often, they see "the myth of God" as part
    > of the problem. I don't think we can make things better in our own
    > natural wisdom and strength. As I've said before, things only get
    > better when I am able to love someone I can't stand and prefer them
    > over myself. I can't do that in the natural.

    I would say- as an atypical modernist- that God, as an existing figure or
    not, is not "the problem." Our relationship with God is the problem. The
    notion of choice- free will runs through religion- is really central to most
    explosive ideas, from Democracy to Marxism. Coupled with sponteneity- which
    I would define as one potential endpoint of Joy- a picture emerges not
    neccesarily of Revolution replacing God, but of Revolution resorting to
    and/or instigating, in some, what the belief in God accomplishes for others.
    And I think it can- with the proper understanding of its adherents- actually
    accomplish a similar psychological imperative of personal happiness and
    liberation. Call it Comparative Revolution. The seven deadly sins, even
    taken as a secular psychological value, are extremely useful; they're
    guideposts to what trips people up in being free. If Communism paid
    attention to them we might see a different breed of engaged socialism
    succesful today- although it could also falter; that's the issue with
    revolution- in order to achive any result as a concept, it has to be, if you
    forgive me, a permanent revolution.

    Let me put it to you this way: If a thing- any thing at all- is concerned
    with *true* freedom and liberation, isn't it holy by default? We could argue
    it as a debate over the existance of God, or we could argue it as a debate
    over the manner in which God manifests itself. But I guess my point is, an
    idea that can take root inside of anyone's mind and open them up to the idea
    of truth, beauty, etc- again, in a true way, not a hallmark greeting card
    way- then isn't it to some degree a religious experience? And I am not
    talking simply about the Mona Lisa or something "noble," but even Warhols
    Soup Cans- which, taken in historical context, I would offer in full
    seriousness as a religious document, along with anything that makes us
    question our ideas of the world, even if it is simply the question of "is it
    art?" - "Is it beautiful?" Put some of the better conceptual artists here
    and you can ask the same questions, minus the imposition of an artifact.

    > +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >
    > Let's say there is such a athing as a generic post-modern/late
    > modern/post-structuralist position that says all positions are
    > relative, there is no solution, things won't get better, so we might
    > as well have some fun and stop killing ourselves trying to solve a
    > problem without a solution.
    >
    > I agree with that position because it despairs of humanistic
    > solutions. Which is why punk rockers and nihilists make sound
    > Christians. They despair of everything but their one thing. cf:
    > http://www.sarahmasen.com/dark/story.php/8
    >
    > I disagree with that generic post-modern position because it tears
    > down and undermines hope, but it offers nothing but the void in
    > return. Furthermore, I find certain activist flavors of this
    > position inherently contradictory and cheesy. If the void actually
    > does await, then why bother passionately trying to convince people of
    > this fact? So they can be aware that the ship is inevitably going to
    > sink before it inevitably does sink so that...? What? So that they
    > can freely and bravely and definatly and with no delusions face the
    > sinking ship? Egad.

    I always saw this position- of the existentialists primarily- is that if
    there is no meaning, then there is no meaning to that, either. Why despair?
    It then becomes an issue very close to my own idea of life: If we are in a
    state of zero, we have a state of infinite choice. And when we have infinite
    choice, we can panic, or we can rise up to face and embrace the choice for
    our own happiness. Why do anything? You can say this as well- why work for
    any community, why work for any self improvement, if heaven is assured by
    biblical default of *not* sinning. Certainly, a humanistic view can explain
    some of this- you work towards God because it makes you happy to be clean
    and without guilt associated with sin. Heaven or not, Religion works because
    it makes this mortal coil feel better. Ultimately, though, can anyone
    believe in God without getting to a point of zero and then choosing to
    embrace God? Isn't this ultimately the same as the post modern condition-
    except the post modern condition, it seems to me, offers and opportunity to
    strike out elements of tainted religion, of Erich Fromm's authoritative
    religion which seeks to limit freedom rather than expand it. You cannoy
    choose god if you cannot _not_ choose God, correct? Isn't Post Modernism
    really just saying: You can _not_ choose god, and then you can choose God if
    you want to?

    > Gnostics believe in a separation of matter and spirit, that matter is
    > base and to be overcome. But Christians believe God made man in
    > three integrated parts -- body, soul, and spirit. At the fall, death
    > entered the world and the body started breaking. At the incarnation,
    > God entered the world and became a man in order to buy back the body
    > (among other things). Christian mysticism isn't about becoming
    > nothing or escaping the body. It is (in part) about using the senses
    > as a vehicle to spiritual stuff.

    Above, you make my point exactly- but I don't know if we need to believe in
    Christ as a literal son of God to believe that. We can believe in Christ's
    ideas as descended from God and still believe it, and we can believe that
    God is evidence of human potential and still believe that. But coming from
    the idea that the word of Christ was what was brought down from God, not
    neccesarily Christ himself, and coming from the idea that these ideas were
    designed to implement a new set of thought systems for mankind, wasn't
    Christ, to some degree, a conceptual artist? Or coming from the idea that he
    _was_ the literal son of God- didn't he use the same tools as conceptual
    artists to spread the Gospel?

    Because to say that you are bored by conceptual art seems to me like you are
    saying you are bored of ideas, and I can't understand that. Ideas can be
    shit- literally, I mean. They can be forced onto other individuals and they
    can be bad and they can encourage diseased thought, but they can also
    encourage a sort of spiritual discourse with the world, or instigate a
    personal inquiry. I have always seen *good* conceptual art as a legitimate
    form of philosophical and psychological inquiry; I see no reason why it
    cannot be a form of religious inquiry, either. I mean, people see it as "Oh,
    well, Religion has nothing to do with Psychology." But it does. A lot of
    psychology comes from Kierkregaard, who was a Christian and very concerned
    with religion, and it goes down from there. The problems stem from when we
    view these developments in religious understanding as seperate fields that
    compete with religion, and I think art has some of that problem. Is there
    anything in the humanities that is not somehow the study of God? "Man in his
    own image" and all? But again, Beuys, Tzara, Duchamp, etc- they all seem to
    be descended from ideas of mysticism from me. Jung certainly was, so to an
    extent was Freud. Good psychology is a contemporary mysticism, good
    conceptual art is good psychology. At least if you come from where I come
    from- as a psychologist (in training) who makes art.

    > Senses can dialogue with media. Pure conceptual art seeks to eschew
    > the media object but actually winds up trafficking in its own thin
    > media object -- the prose artist statement. This might seem
    > spiritual to a gnostic. To me, it's actually a great way to avoid
    > engaging the spirit altogether. It engages the mind at a soulish
    > level. So does the McNeill Lehr Report.

    I think this is a generalization. I think conceptual art can make you
    interact with the entire world as a potential art object; why does something
    have to be created by a human being in order to expose God? What about
    conceptual art that can expose possibilities for seeing the world, from the
    inside out?

    > To answer your question -- no, I don't think
    > there is anything about conceptual art that inherently challenges
    > faith in God.

    That wasn't really my question, my question was whether conceptual art
    really differs on any level from Religion- whether you believe in god or
    not, both take place in the form of ideas and develop there. God can do it-
    the idea of God can turn into what some people believe is a true, real God
    inside of them, but then what is the idea of the _idea_ all about? How else
    does god get there, I guess is what I am asking, if not on the vehicle of an
    idea? (It doesn't disprove god at all, nor does it prove it- it proves that
    there is a choice to be made, personally, as to whether to choose god or
    not.) Isn't this level of _idea_ where some of the best conceptual art comes
    from? Take Cage's 4'33" for example? What if he wrote it as a hymn?

    -e.

    >
    > ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >
    > peace,
    > curt
    >
    > __
    >
    >
    > >Curt;
    > >
    > >The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is that
    > >they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people do).
    > >This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing
    though
    > >is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.
    > >
    > >Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion- humanistic
    and
    > >totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from freedom,
    > >while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own
    freedom
    > >and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think a
    lot
    > >of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
    > >mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian Religion
    is
    > >the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its aims
    > >with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying disagreement
    is
    > >unfortunate for both.
    > >
    > >Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to
    struggle
    > >towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God is
    > >within each follower and allows each individual to reach their greatest
    > >potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you
    get
    > >the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far
    more
    > >happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries fall
    so
    > >quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over
    others
    > >that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
    > >political or spiritual.
    > >
    > >Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at their
    > >best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
    > >liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from much
    of
    > >religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards
    understanding
    > >enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart? He's
    a
    > >Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations I
    have
    > >of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose form
    to
    > >emphasize its Marxist nature:
    > >
    > >"Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself and
    > >others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to buy
    what
    > >refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how their
    eyes
    > >weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy
    that
    > >a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive than
    a
    > >god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its wonder
    have
    > >made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of life
    than
    > >to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I imagine
    > >erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars that
    > >commerce loves."
    > >
    > >It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would hold
    > >such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it as
    an
    > >extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism" in
    a
    > >secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
    > >someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
    > >conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I
    mean
    > >this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that
    conceptual
    > >art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know
    Cage
    > >and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)
    > >
    > >-e.
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >----- Original Message -----
    > >From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    > >To: <list@rhizome.org>
    > >Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
    > >Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in the
    > >Whitney Biennial?
    > >
    > >
    > >> Michael Szpakowski wrote:
    > >>
    > >> > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
    > >> > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
    > >> > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
    > >> > clothing, shelter.
    > >> > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
    > >> > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
    > >> > themselves are pretty straightforward.
    > >> > It's indubitably the case that without the things
    > > > > above listed then
    > >> > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
    > >> > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
    > > > > which I too value in all their glorious human
    > >> > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
    > >> > throughout history, would not occur.
    > >>
    > >> Hi Michael,
    > >>
    > >> I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that reproduction,
    > >food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I don't
    know
    > >whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even
    prime)
    > >cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my
    head,
    > >but not all my actions derive from that fact.
    > >>
    > >> If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I
    will
    > >wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a
    spiritual
    > >world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    > >material influences to spiritual causes.
    > >>
    > >> I believe a spiritual world exists.
    > >>
    > >> local mileage may vary,
    > >> curt
    > >> +
    > >> -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > >> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > >> -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > >> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > >> -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > >> +
    > >> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > >> Membership Agreement available online at
    http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    > >>
    >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
  • curt cloninger | Wed Nov 5th 2003 12:02 p.m.
    eryk:
    >I would say- as an atypical modernist- that God, as an existing figure or
    >not, is not "the problem." Our relationship with God is the problem. The
    >notion of choice- free will runs through religion- is really central to most
    >explosive ideas, from Democracy to Marxism. Coupled with sponteneity- which
    >I would define as one potential endpoint of Joy- a picture emerges not
    >neccesarily of Revolution replacing God, but of Revolution resorting to
    >and/or instigating, in some, what the belief in God accomplishes for others.
    >And I think it can- with the proper understanding of its adherents- actually
    >accomplish a similar psychological imperative of personal happiness and
    >liberation. Call it Comparative Revolution. The seven deadly sins, even
    >taken as a secular psychological value, are extremely useful; they're
    >guideposts to what trips people up in being free. If Communism paid
    >attention to them we might see a different breed of engaged socialism
    >succesful today- although it could also falter; that's the issue with
    >revolution- in order to achive any result as a concept, it has to be, if you
    >forgive me, a permanent revolution.

    curt:
    I hear what you're saying, and I do agree that modernists isms are
    trying to solve the same basic human problems as religion. But I
    don't think a more religious form of socialism will work, any more
    than I think that religion itself will work. I don't really consider
    myself religious. I just believe in God. It has been said that
    religion is man's failed attempts to reach God, and the person of
    Jesus is God's successful attempt to reach man. I believe a
    one-on-one relationship with God is central, not peripheral, to the
    problem of the human condition.

    Christianity is not about morality, the seven deadly sins, or the ten
    commandments. Jesus summed it up simply, "Love God with all your
    heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.
    On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
    Knowledge of what's right doesn't give me the strength to do what's
    right. That strength to love the unlovely is a supernatural strength
    that comes from God alone.

    eryk:
    >Let me put it to you this way: If a thing- any thing at all- is concerned
    >with *true* freedom and liberation, isn't it holy by default? We could argue
    >it as a debate over the existance of God, or we could argue it as a debate
    >over the manner in which God manifests itself. But I guess my point is, an
    >idea that can take root inside of anyone's mind and open them up to the idea
    >of truth, beauty, etc- again, in a true way, not a hallmark greeting card
    >way- then isn't it to some degree a religious experience? And I am not
    >talking simply about the Mona Lisa or something "noble," but even Warhols
    >Soup Cans- which, taken in historical context, I would offer in full
    >seriousness as a religious document, along with anything that makes us
    >question our ideas of the world, even if it is simply the question of "is it
    >art?" - "Is it beautiful?" Put some of the better conceptual artists here
    >and you can ask the same questions, minus the imposition of an artifact.

    curt:
    I totally agaree. It is kind of strange that we are having this
    discussion on an art list. But then again, it's not so strange. I
    believe part of God's inherent nature is "creator." He makes stuff.
    Literal stuff, like matter. Stuff that we can't make; we just remix
    it. He made us in his image. And part of his image (who he is) is
    creator. So when we create, we participate and celebrate who he's
    made us to be, whether we believe in him or not. Which is what
    Keats' Urn might mean when it says "beauty is truth and truth
    beauty." Which is why I can crank up Radiohead's "Holy Roman Empire"
    and raise my hands and weep as it washes over me. In many ways,
    artists know aspects of God that many conservative religious people
    will never know.

    eryk:
    >I always saw this position- of the existentialists primarily- is that if
    >there is no meaning, then there is no meaning to that, either. Why despair?
    >It then becomes an issue very close to my own idea of life: If we are in a
    >state of zero, we have a state of infinite choice. And when we have infinite
    >choice, we can panic, or we can rise up to face and embrace the choice for
    >our own happiness. Why do anything? You can say this as well- why work for
    >any community, why work for any self improvement, if heaven is assured by
    >biblical default of *not* sinning.

    curt:
    Biblically, heaven is not assured by not sinning. Heaven is a
    kingdom, and a kingdom is defined as the reign of a king over an
    area. The kingdom of God is the rule of God in men's hearts. It's
    not about towing the moral line. It's about yieldedness to the
    person of God.

    eryk:
    >Certainly, a humanistic view can explain
    >some of this- you work towards God because it makes you happy to be clean
    >and without guilt associated with sin. Heaven or not, Religion works because
    >it makes this mortal coil feel better. Ultimately, though, can anyone
    >believe in God without getting to a point of zero and then choosing to
    >embrace God? Isn't this ultimately the same as the post modern condition-
    >except the post modern condition, it seems to me, offers and opportunity to
    >strike out elements of tainted religion, of Erich Fromm's authoritative
    >religion which seeks to limit freedom rather than expand it. You cannoy
    >choose god if you cannot _not_ choose God, correct? Isn't Post Modernism
    >really just saying: You can _not_ choose god, and then you can choose God if
    >you want to?

    curt:
    Agreed. But coming to the point of making a choice is still not
    having made a choice.

    curt:
    > > Gnostics believe in a separation of matter and spirit, that matter is
    >> base and to be overcome. But Christians believe God made man in
    >> three integrated parts -- body, soul, and spirit. At the fall, death
    >> entered the world and the body started breaking. At the incarnation,
    >> God entered the world and became a man in order to buy back the body
    >> (among other things). Christian mysticism isn't about becoming
    >> nothing or escaping the body. It is (in part) about using the senses
    > > as a vehicle to spiritual stuff.

    eryk:
    >Above, you make my point exactly- but I don't know if we need to believe in
    >Christ as a literal son of God to believe that. We can believe in Christ's
    >ideas as descended from God and still believe it, and we can believe that
    >God is evidence of human potential and still believe that. But coming from
    >the idea that the word of Christ was what was brought down from God, not
    >neccesarily Christ himself, and coming from the idea that these ideas were
    >designed to implement a new set of thought systems for mankind, wasn't
    >Christ, to some degree, a conceptual artist? Or coming from the idea that he
    >_was_ the literal son of God- didn't he use the same tools as conceptual
    >artists to spread the Gospel?

    curt:
    Jesus came to do more than spread a meme. He came to be a spiritual
    sacrifice. The power of his death and resurrection don't derive from
    their metaphorical poeticism. He defeated death and evil in the
    literal spiritual realm ("literal spiritual" is not an oxymoron to
    me). You can allegorize these historical events if you like, but in
    so doing, you get a diluted remix, something just enough removed from
    Bibllical Christianity to leave out the living God.

    Here is an interesting passage from the New Tesetament written by
    Peter, one of Jesus's closest companions, in which the author himself
    give us hermeneutical instructions as ato how we are to interpret his
    text:

    "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about
    the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were
    eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God
    the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory,
    saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' We
    ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with
    him on the sacred mountain."

    eryk:
    >Because to say that you are bored by conceptual art seems to me like you are
    >saying you are bored of ideas, and I can't understand that. Ideas can be
    >shit- literally, I mean. They can be forced onto other individuals and they
    >can be bad and they can encourage diseased thought, but they can also
    >encourage a sort of spiritual discourse with the world, or instigate a
    >personal inquiry. I have always seen *good* conceptual art as a legitimate
    >form of philosophical and psychological inquiry; I see no reason why it
    >cannot be a form of religious inquiry, either. I mean, people see it as "Oh,
    >well, Religion has nothing to do with Psychology." But it does. A lot of
    >psychology comes from Kierkregaard, who was a Christian and very concerned
    >with religion, and it goes down from there. The problems stem from when we
    >view these developments in religious understanding as seperate fields that
    >compete with religion, and I think art has some of that problem. Is there
    >anything in the humanities that is not somehow the study of God? "Man in his
    >own image" and all? But again, Beuys, Tzara, Duchamp, etc- they all seem to
    >be descended from ideas of mysticism from me. Jung certainly was, so to an
    >extent was Freud. Good psychology is a contemporary mysticism, good
    >conceptual art is good psychology. At least if you come from where I come
    >from- as a psychologist (in training) who makes art.

    curt:
    My problem with pure conceptual art is that it takes one of the few
    areas of human activity that need not be subject to didacticism, and
    it makes it didactic. You could write a text essay with a
    paintbrush, but what a waste of the paintbrush's unique potential.
    Yes, let there be concepts in art, but let them also traffic in the
    visceral, sensory, intuitive, non-didactic channels that art alone c
    an travel.

    curt:
    > > To answer your question -- no, I don't think
    >> there is anything about conceptual art that inherently challenges
    > > faith in God.

    eryk:
    >That wasn't really my question, my question was whether conceptual art
    >really differs on any level from Religion- whether you believe in god or
    >not, both take place in the form of ideas and develop there. God can do it-
    >the idea of God can turn into what some people believe is a true, real God
    >inside of them, but then what is the idea of the _idea_ all about? How else
    >does god get there, I guess is what I am asking, if not on the vehicle of an
    >idea? (It doesn't disprove god at all, nor does it prove it- it proves that
    >there is a choice to be made, personally, as to whether to choose god or
    >not.) Isn't this level of _idea_ where some of the best conceptual art comes
    >from? Take Cage's 4'33" for example? What if he wrote it as a hymn?

    curt:
    I know about God from stuff God made -- the universe, these
    mountains, the fall trees on fire, all creatures great and small, me.
    I know about God from stuff God did -- became a man, cast out demons,
    healed folks, loved me and provided for me and gave me a life. So for
    me, there's more to my faith than just ideas. If these things didn't
    actually happen, if they are just man-made ideas, they are no more or
    less useful to me than any other humanistic ism.

    peace,
    curt
  • mark cooley | Thu Nov 6th 2003 1:56 p.m.
    just wanted to throw something in... a response to... > If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I will wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a spiritual
    world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    material influences to spiritual causes.< Curt. There is, of course, the third position (and many others besides) that allows for both the existence of "a spiritual world" and a materialist way of finding social relations meaningful. I don't think this should be a chicken OR egg thing. It is possible to believe the existence of an unattainable (at least while we are in our bodies here on earth) transcendence and a view that human social relations always work within political/economic contexts. Personally, I have a lot of trouble attributing material situations with universal/transcendent causes, simply because every situation takes place within relations of power in society... unless you say that power relations are somehow divinely sanctioned... and I'm not about to go there.
    One can believe in the existence of a spirit world and, at the same time, have no faith in it.

    Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    > (weirdest change of subject I've seen in a while)
    >
    > Curt;
    >
    > The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is
    > that
    > they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people
    > do).
    > This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing
    > though
    > is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.
    >
    > Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion-
    > humanistic and
    > totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from
    > freedom,
    > while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own
    > freedom
    > and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think
    > a lot
    > of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
    > mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian
    > Religion is
    > the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its
    > aims
    > with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying
    > disagreement is
    > unfortunate for both.
    >
    > Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to
    > struggle
    > towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God
    > is
    > within each follower and allows each individual to reach their
    > greatest
    > potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you
    > get
    > the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far
    > more
    > happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries
    > fall so
    > quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over
    > others
    > that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
    > political or spiritual.
    >
    > Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at
    > their
    > best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
    > liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from
    > much of
    > religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards
    > understanding
    > enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart?
    > He's a
    > Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations
    > I have
    > of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose
    > form to
    > emphasize its Marxist nature:
    >
    > "Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself
    > and
    > others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to
    > buy what
    > refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how
    > their eyes
    > weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy
    > that
    > a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive
    > than a
    > god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its
    > wonder have
    > made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of
    > life than
    > to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I
    > imagine
    > erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars
    > that
    > commerce loves."
    >
    > It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would
    > hold
    > such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it
    > as an
    > extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism"
    > in a
    > secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
    > someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
    > conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I
    > mean
    > this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that
    > conceptual
    > art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know
    > Cage
    > and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)
    >
    > -e.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    > To: <list@rhizome.org>
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
    > Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in
    > the
    > Whitney Biennial?
    >
    >
    > > Michael Szpakowski wrote:
    > >
    > > > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
    > > > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
    > > > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
    > > > clothing, shelter.
    > > > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
    > > > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
    > > > themselves are pretty straightforward.
    > > > It's indubitably the case that without the things
    > > > above listed then
    > > > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
    > > > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
    > > > which I too value in all their glorious human
    > > > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
    > > > throughout history, would not occur.
    > >
    > > Hi Michael,
    > >
    > > I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that
    > reproduction,
    > food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I
    > don't know
    > whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even
    > prime)
    > cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my
    > head,
    > but not all my actions derive from that fact.
    > >
    > > If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I
    > will
    > wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a
    > spiritual
    > world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    > material influences to spiritual causes.
    > >
    > > I believe a spiritual world exists.
    > >
    > > local mileage may vary,
    > > curt
    > > +
    > > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > > +
    > > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > > Membership Agreement available online at
    > http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    > >
    >
  • curt cloninger | Thu Nov 6th 2003 2:30 p.m.
    hi mark,

    To clarify, when i talk about a spiritual world, i'm talking about a spiritual world that exerts an influence on the material world. It's what Hamlet means when he says, "What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth?" I believe we live in two worlds concurrently, and are simultaneously influenced by both. If such is the case, then attributing every event to material causes is no less fallacious than attributing every event to spiritual causes.

    peace,
    curt

    __

    mark cooley wrote:

    > just wanted to throw something in... a response to... > If a spiritual
    > world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I will wrongly
    > attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a spiritual
    > world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    > material influences to spiritual causes.< Curt. There is, of course,
    > the third position (and many others besides) that allows for both the
    > existence of "a spiritual world" and a materialist way of finding
    > social relations meaningful. I don't think this should be a chicken
    > OR egg thing. It is possible to believe the existence of an
    > unattainable (at least while we are in our bodies here on earth)
    > transcendence and a view that human social relations always work
    > within political/economic contexts. Personally, I have a lot of
    > trouble attributing material situations with universal/transcendent
    > causes, simply because every situation takes place within relations of
    > power in society... unless you say that power relations are somehow
    > divinely sanctioned... and I'm not about to go there.
    > One can believe in the existence of a spirit world and, at the same
    > time, have no faith in it.
  • void void | Thu Nov 6th 2003 5:37 p.m.
    curt cloninger wrote:

    > hi mark,
    >
    > To clarify, when i talk about a spiritual world, i'm talking about a
    > spiritual world that exerts an influence on the material world. It's
    > what Hamlet means when he says, "What should such fellows as I do
    > crawling between heaven and earth?" I believe we live in two worlds
    > concurrently, and are simultaneously influenced by both. If such is
    > the case, then attributing every event to material causes is no less
    > fallacious than attributing every event to spiritual causes.
    >
    > peace,
    > curt
    >

    We live in one world.
    Western society is hell bent on dualism!
    the spiritual world and the material world are the same thing!
    for some reason Western culture just can't see that.

    too bad!

    say cheese!
    AE03
    http://www.atomicelroy.com
  • D42 Kandinskij | Mon Nov 10th 2003 5:54 p.m.
    Names
    Marcel Duchamp
    Karl Marx
    Joseph Beuys
    Erich Fromm
    Curt Cloninger
    John Cage
    Mesiter Eckhart
    Tristan Tzara
    Eryk Salvaggio

    We insist on being added to the names list. Thank you.

    `~.D42

    Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    > (weirdest change of subject I've seen in a while)
    >
    > Curt;
    >
    > The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is
    > that
    > they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people
    > do).
    > This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing
    > though
    > is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.
    >
    > Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion-
    > humanistic and
    > totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from
    > freedom,
    > while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own
    > freedom
    > and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think
    > a lot
    > of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
    > mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian
    > Religion is
    > the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its
    > aims
    > with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying
    > disagreement is
    > unfortunate for both.
    >
    > Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to
    > struggle
    > towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God
    > is
    > within each follower and allows each individual to reach their
    > greatest
    > potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you
    > get
    > the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far
    > more
    > happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries
    > fall so
    > quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over
    > others
    > that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
    > political or spiritual.
    >
    > Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at
    > their
    > best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
    > liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from
    > much of
    > religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards
    > understanding
    > enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart?
    > He's a
    > Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations
    > I have
    > of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose
    > form to
    > emphasize its Marxist nature:
    >
    > "Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself
    > and
    > others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to
    > buy what
    > refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how
    > their eyes
    > weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy
    > that
    > a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive
    > than a
    > god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its
    > wonder have
    > made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of
    > life than
    > to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I
    > imagine
    > erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars
    > that
    > commerce loves."
    >
    > It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would
    > hold
    > such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it
    > as an
    > extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism"
    > in a
    > secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
    > someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
    > conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I
    > mean
    > this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that
    > conceptual
    > art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know
    > Cage
    > and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)
    >
    > -e.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    > To: <list@rhizome.org>
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
    > Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in
    > the
    > Whitney Biennial?
    >
    >
    > > Michael Szpakowski wrote:
    > >
    > > > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
    > > > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
    > > > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
    > > > clothing, shelter.
    > > > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
    > > > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
    > > > themselves are pretty straightforward.
    > > > It's indubitably the case that without the things
    > > > above listed then
    > > > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
    > > > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
    > > > which I too value in all their glorious human
    > > > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
    > > > throughout history, would not occur.
    > >
    > > Hi Michael,
    > >
    > > I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that
    > reproduction,
    > food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I
    > don't know
    > whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even
    > prime)
    > cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my
    > head,
    > but not all my actions derive from that fact.
    > >
    > > If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I
    > will
    > wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a
    > spiritual
    > world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    > material influences to spiritual causes.
    > >
    > > I believe a spiritual world exists.
    > >
    > > local mileage may vary,
    > > curt
    > > +
    > > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > > +
    > > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > > Membership Agreement available online at
    > http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    > >
    >
  • Eryk Salvaggio | Tue Nov 11th 2003 1:25 p.m.
    We'd have a pretty good biennial.

    -e.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "D42 Kandinskij" <D42@punkassbitch.org>
    To: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Monday, November 10, 2003 4:54 PM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Materialism/Mysticism (was Re: No Web Art in the
    Whitney Biennial?)

    > Names
    > Marcel Duchamp
    > Karl Marx
    > Joseph Beuys
    > Erich Fromm
    > Curt Cloninger
    > John Cage
    > Mesiter Eckhart
    > Tristan Tzara
    > Eryk Salvaggio
    >
    > We insist on being added to the names list. Thank you.
    >
    > `~.D42
    >
    > Eryk Salvaggio wrote:
    >
    > > (weirdest change of subject I've seen in a while)
    > >
    > > Curt;
    > >
    > > The problem with a lot of moderate views of Marxism and Socialism is
    > > that
    > > they react to a very base element of spirituality (which many people
    > > do).
    > > This is really true with any secular movement. The interesting thing
    > > though
    > > is that revolution serves the same function that religion might.
    > >
    > > Erich Fromm suggested that there were two types of religion-
    > > humanistic and
    > > totalitarian; and that totalitarian religion is an escape from
    > > freedom,
    > > while humanistic religion allows an individual to look at their own
    > > freedom
    > > and not be afraid, but to embrace freedom for positive action. I think
    > > a lot
    > > of secular movements, like Marxism, look at totalitarian religion and
    > > mistake it for *all* religion- certainly Marx did. Totalitarian
    > > Religion is
    > > the opiate of the masses, indeed- but humanistic religion shares its
    > > aims
    > > with Marxism: Liberation of the human spirit. The underlying
    > > disagreement is
    > > unfortunate for both.
    > >
    > > Humanistic religion sees God as an idealized state for humanity to
    > > struggle
    > > towards; Revolution is about the struggle for an idealized state. God
    > > is
    > > within each follower and allows each individual to reach their
    > > greatest
    > > potential in Religion; just substitute "revolution" with "god" and you
    > > get
    > > the same thing. The key difference, from what I see, is that I see far
    > > more
    > > happy religious people than happy revolutionaries. Revolutionaries
    > > fall so
    > > quickly into totalitarianism; it is hard to turn down the power over
    > > others
    > > that comes with equating oneself with a state of righteousness, be it
    > > political or spiritual.
    > >
    > > Situatationists, Dadaists, and your beloved Conceptual artists; at
    > > their
    > > best, take the ideas that Fromm took as well- that the evidence of
    > > liberation is in spontaneity; which is a different realization from
    > > much of
    > > religion, though much-abused Zen thought lends itself towards
    > > understanding
    > > enlightenment as spontaneity as well. Have you read Meister Eckhart?
    > > He's a
    > > Christian Mystic from the 13th century, and a lot of the translations
    > > I have
    > > of him are decidedly Marxist. Here's his poem, written here in prose
    > > form to
    > > emphasize its Marxist nature:
    > >
    > > "Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself
    > > and
    > > others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to
    > > buy what
    > > refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how
    > > their eyes
    > > weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy
    > > that
    > > a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive
    > > than a
    > > god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its
    > > wonder have
    > > made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of
    > > life than
    > > to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I
    > > imagine
    > > erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars
    > > that
    > > commerce loves."
    > >
    > > It strikes me as interesting that anyone with religious views would
    > > hold
    > > such a strong disregard to conceptual art, when I have always seen it
    > > as an
    > > extension of religion. I get in trouble for using the word "mysticism"
    > > in a
    > > secular way now and then, so maybe my pov hasn't allowed me to see how
    > > someone who is *truly* religious could find it offensive. Do you think
    > > conceptual art is challenging the position of actual faith in God? (I
    > > mean
    > > this in all sincerity- it has always been my understanding that
    > > conceptual
    > > art ala Cage, Beuys, Tzara and Duchamp is all about mysticism- I know
    > > Cage
    > > and Tzara say it pretty explicitly.)
    > >
    > > -e.
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > ----- Original Message -----
    > > From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    > > To: <list@rhizome.org>
    > > Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 9:05 PM
    > > Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: No Web Art in
    > > the
    > > Whitney Biennial?
    > >
    > >
    > > > Michael Szpakowski wrote:
    > > >
    > > > > All marxism at bottom asserts is that ideas don't come
    > > > > from nowhere but arise out of how we reproduce
    > > > > ourselves and the necessities of life - food,
    > > > > clothing, shelter.
    > > > > I'm not trying to fluffify it here - the consequences
    > > > > of these ideas are far reaching, but the ideas
    > > > > themselves are pretty straightforward.
    > > > > It's indubitably the case that without the things
    > > > > above listed then
    > > > > "love and intimacy and thanksgiving and
    > > > > creativity and celebration and barbaric yawpin'"
    > > > > which I too value in all their glorious human
    > > > > particularity and enormously varied manifestations
    > > > > throughout history, would not occur.
    > > >
    > > > Hi Michael,
    > > >
    > > > I'm not so sure that's true. There is no denying that
    > > reproduction,
    > > food, clothing, and shelter are ever with us on this earth, but I
    > > don't know
    > > whether their persistent presence makes them the underlying (or even
    > > prime)
    > > cause for every other thing we do. I've always had two eyeballs in my
    > > head,
    > > but not all my actions derive from that fact.
    > > >
    > > > If a spiritual world exists, but I don't allow for its existence, I
    > > will
    > > wrongly attribute spiritual influences to material causes. If a
    > > spiritual
    > > world doesn't exist, but I believe one does, I will wrongly attribute
    > > material influences to spiritual causes.
    > > >
    > > > I believe a spiritual world exists.
    > > >
    > > > local mileage may vary,
    > > > curt
    > > > +
    > > > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > > > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > > > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > > > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > > > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > > > +
    > > > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > > > Membership Agreement available online at
    > > http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    > > >
    > >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > -> visit: on Fridays the Rhizome.org web site is open to non-members
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
  • D42 Kandinskij | Wed Nov 12th 2003 1:30 a.m.
    To whoever wrote: the material and spiritual certainly are one, and there are plenty of Western "philosophies" indicating the latter--just like there are more of their fair share of pseudo-cults "dictating" the American mindset and media-output which derive from misguided misunderstandings of exactly what that means. The spiritual and material may be one, but $100,000 million will not buy you entrance into the spiritual, nor will "friends" "connections" "communities" and "networks". Or will they? It's not that simplistic though "thinking" will not give you the answer. Didn't to Einstein either.

    To Eryk:

    Yes, a pretty good biennal, indeed.
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