Dyske Suematsu
Since the beginning
Works in United States of America

I think, theorize, and write about highly irrelevant matters.
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Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts - to Eduardo

Hi Eduardo,

My comments after yours:

> Since you claim deconstruction as a way to understand
> contradictions, there
> is a need to point out that your statement exposes an interesting
> contradiction: to claim that art has more dimensions than we
> comprehend, or
> that "logic is too rudimentary of a tool" exposes a
> transcendental tendency
> not much different from Curt's. That is to somehow believe there is
> something outside that is essential and grander, which if we come to terms
> with it through knowledge we may reach a higher state of being. (Sounds
> like going to heaven).

Deconstruction is not a way to understand anything. If anything, it is a way
to unlearn something.

I take your point about the contradiction in my statement. After all, it is
only an assumption that there is something beyond logic. However,
"transcendentalism" is what happens when you attach yourself to that belief.
It is true, there may not be anything behind the puzzling phenomenon called



Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts - to Tim

Hi Tim,

Not quite.

Let me use one of Curt's remarks to illustrate my point here.

"...why limit yourself to merely admiring saatchi's system-manipulating

He used the word "manipulating". This implies that what Saatchi does
deviates from what is objectively ideal. When you believe in this type of
absolute/objective ideal independent of subjective differences, the world is
a very hostile and frustrating place. I am not saying that this is a wrong
way to be. It is your choice, just the same way, no one is asking you to
make art.

What I am trying to show is that there is a way to appreciate the world
without believing in this type of objective ideals. I am not saying it is
better, but I am saying that it is a perfectly legitimate position to be.

Wittgenstein once said, "The only way to change the world is to change
yourself." You have nothing to lose by trying to understand this


> -----Original Message-----
> From: timothy whidden [mailto:twhidden@wavexpress.com]
> Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 4:02 PM
> To: Dyske Suematsu
> Cc: list@rhizome.org
> Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts
> Attempting to get back to Dyske's original essay...
> In a nutshell, Dyske's point is this: thinking of the art world as a
> meritocracy is false as there is no objective basis on which to judge
> the merit. Therefor art world success is based not on merit but on
> subjective decisions by a few powerful opinion-makers in the art world
> so let's stop kidding ourselves that successful artists are the best
> artists.
> Does that sum it up fairly?
> If yes, I'll proceed, if no, could you put it in a nutshell Dyske?
> ===
> <twhid>http://www.mteww.com</twhid>
> ===


Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts - to Michael

Hi Michael,

Some would argue that Wittgenstein started deconstruction. Think of the
method he employs. When someone poses a philosophical question such as,
"What is the meaning of life?", he does not answer it. He deconstructs the
question itself. To him, there are no such things as philosophical
questions. They are all "nonsensical" questions that only appears to have a
sense. Our language is fooling us into thinking that there is a sense there.
He dedicated his life to vanishing philosophical questions. The goal (if you
can call it that) of Zen Buddhism is the same.

Most of you here seem to assume that deconstruction will lead to a total
chaos, something undesirable, destructive, or unconstructive. It almost
appears as though you are scared of it. It is similar to those who are
deeply religious; they feel that if we took away their gods, their lives
would fall apart.

I'm living a perfectly good life here. So, relax: Deconstruction does not
lead to chaos. You'll live your life just the same way you live your life
now. You'll build your houses based on assumptions. The only difference is
that you would not have any deep attachments to those assumptions, because
you have been deconstructed.

I hope you don't feel ashamed of cooking me a meal because of our
disagreements here. It was great and I would like to do that again!



Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts

Hi Rob,

My comments follow yours:

> Relativism is not circular logic. Circular logic is self-proving.
> Relativism is self-disproving since it cannot prove itself
> without becoming an absolute.

See this article that explains circular logic:

Circular logic is a logical fallacy; it is not "self-proving". It actually
does not prove anything because it is a fallacy. Both relativism and
objectivism that we are speaking of here, will eventually reach circular
logic because both must necessarily be based on some assumptions:

Relativism: "It's good because it's considered good."
Objectivism: "It's good because I say so."

Relativism falls apart because its argument would be contradictory if it is
Objectivism falls apart because it could never be proven absolutely.

> Relativism as practiced by Cultural Studies (etc.) is just a
> post-colonial rehabilitation of orientalism. Or
> crypto-slumming-it. There's nothing wrong with using or being
> inspired by the discourses of other cultures, societies or
> classes. There is something wrong with claiming that all
> discourses are created equal, save the one that declares this.

You could assume that they are created equal, or you could assume otherwise.
Unless there is an absolute standard by which we can prove their inequality,
it is not reasonable to say that there is "something wrong" with believing
in equality. I could choose to assume one stance or the other. I am not
particularly interested in proving this equality or inequality that you
bring up.

> Relativism allows pre-existent discourse to be turned on any
> object. This priveleges deconstruction, turning the generation of
> text into an absolute. It is a political position. What kind of
> politics? Well, deconstruction is a paternalistic, appropriating activity.

You are not supporting your argument here. Why is deconstruction a
"paternalistic, appropriating activity"?

> Relativism is a discourse. Any discourse can be deconstructed.
> This applies to the discourse of deconstruction as well.

Deconstructionists are aware of this.

> When you
> deconstruct you tend to find politics and vested interests and
> disappointed lives.

You are not supporting your argument here either. Zen Buddhism is a world
where you could not deconstruct much because everything has already been
de-centered. It reaches none of the above states you list.

> Relativism serves The Market and Cultural
> Studies. Neither have much to do with art.

Yes, it has a lot to do with art. Art, like human being, has more dimensions
than we can comprehend. Logic, in fact, is too rudimentary of a tool to
comprehend it. This is why I can sincerely accept having contradictions when
I switch my perspectives. Within each perspective, your logic can be
consistent, but as soon as the basic assumptions are shifted, a different
self-consistent argument can be formed. I have no problem accepting this.
For me, it has everything to do with art. I find objectivism to be more
constructive for discussing science and math.



Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts

Hi Curt,

My analogy was not constructed to argue about intrinsic relations of house
and location. What I tried to show in it is the fact that you must choose a
location before you can start to build on it. There will always be certain
uncertainties about any particular location, but if you try to be 100% sure,
you'll never be able to start building a house. So, you have to compromise,
accept the assumptions, and "move on".

I never "refused to discuss" my assumptions. This whole discussion has been
about those assumptions. All I am stating is that, unfortunately, these are
assumptions that neither of us could prove right or wrong, and therefore are


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org]On Behalf Of
> curt cloninger
> Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 1:52 PM
> To: list@rhizome.org
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Re: The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts
> Your analogy falls apart in this not insignifigant respect:
> a house is rarely intrisically related to the location on which
> it's built (unless it's a frank lloyd wright, etc.). Whereas an
> argument is always intrinsically related to the assumptions on
> which it's built. To refuse to discuss one's assumptions as if
> they can be considered hermetically separate from one's argument
> is convenient but disingenuous.
> the last word is yours if you want it.