What Do You Want?

It is all about other people. Art and philosophy are just ways of contacting other people.

It can be both positive and negative. It’s Gombrowiczean the way we share music with people, for example. We have in our heads images, fantasies, of others when we are appreciating music. We want to put it out there for others. Somewhere there’s a box of mix tapes I made for my girlfriend in college. I hear a great song and I imagine making a film just so I could put it on the soundtrack. These days we make cds for our friends. The great sharing of culture now in the digital age is Gombrowiczean in the best sense.

On the other hand, under the table, there’s often a power play going on. Buried in outward discussion of aesthetics in an art gallery, say, there’s one person grabbing another by the scruff of the neck and forcing genuflection.

Like a ball in a tennis match, art is really just something that binds and connects the players. G. suggested we need to feel this leash. Whether aggressively or erotically, we wish to bind others to us, and ourselves to others, and art is one way. It is never solitary. Never alone. In our heads, at least.

In his Diary G. wrote about artists and writers, but he measured them against his own experience, not the other way around. He started from himself and wrote about his encounter with life and ideas. He described it as being a country squire strolling through the orchard of culture, picking an apple or a peach and tasting it and commenting on whether or not it was to his liking. Lillian Vallee, the translator of G.’s Diary, sums it up G.’s approach to art and literature really nicely: You should ask of it, “Does it strengthen or debilitate? Does it make you regard your identity as a more expansive, spacious, freer place — failures, complexes, ignorance notwithstanding — or does it paralyze, gag, diminish?”

G. had the same approach to philosophy. Although a voracious reader of philosophy, he tended to distrust systems of any kind because of the way they make an end-run around our humanity and our bodies. Systems, ideologies, religious, scientific theories all cut people down to size and compartmentalize them; they deform us when we attempt to live up to their ideals. G. spends many pages in the Diary reacting to Sartre, for example, who was all the rage at the time. I love this quote:

Thursday
How should I explain why existentialism did not lead me astray? …

When I applied maximum consciousness to life, in an attempt to found my existence on this, I noticed that something stupid was happening to me. Too bad, but no way. It can’t be done. It seems impossible to meet the demands of Dasein and simultaneously have coffee and croissants for an evening snack. To fear nothingness, but to fear the dentist more. To be consciousness, which walks around in pants and talks on the telephone. To be responsibility, which runs little shopping errands downtown. To bear the weight of significant being, to instill the world with meaning and then return the change from ten pesos. What do you want?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 27

  1. From Fredrick on 22 Aug 2014 at 1:49 pm

    .

    ??????????!…

  2. From Shawn on 22 Aug 2014 at 7:43 pm

    .

    ??? ?? ????!!…

  3. From derek on 22 Aug 2014 at 9:44 pm

    .

    tnx!!…

  4. From erik on 23 Aug 2014 at 1:40 am

    .

    good info!!…

  5. From willard on 23 Aug 2014 at 8:21 pm

    .

    ??????? ?? ????!!…

  6. From zachary on 24 Aug 2014 at 12:45 am

    .

    ??? ?? ????!!…

  7. From andrew on 24 Aug 2014 at 12:12 pm

    .

    ???!…

  8. From jim on 24 Aug 2014 at 1:05 pm

    .

    tnx for info….

  9. From steven on 26 Aug 2014 at 2:41 pm

    .

    tnx….

  10. From Guy on 17 Nov 2014 at 1:05 am

    .

    áëàãîäàðñòâóþ!…

  11. From Neil on 17 Nov 2014 at 3:05 am

    .

    tnx for info!!…

  12. From darren on 18 Nov 2014 at 8:14 pm

    .

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó!!…

  13. From jackie on 19 Nov 2014 at 5:37 am

    .

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó!…

  14. From Steven on 19 Nov 2014 at 5:58 am

    .

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó!!…

  15. From Jorge on 19 Nov 2014 at 9:53 am

    .

    ñïñ!…

  16. From barry on 20 Nov 2014 at 6:10 am

    .

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó!…

  17. From Frank on 20 Nov 2014 at 4:01 pm

    .

    thanks!…

  18. From Mike on 21 Nov 2014 at 9:18 pm

    .

    ñïàñèáî!!…

  19. From marion on 22 Nov 2014 at 7:43 am

    .

    good!!…

  20. From Darren on 22 Nov 2014 at 9:59 am

    .

    good info!!…

  21. From christopher on 22 Nov 2014 at 10:24 am

    .

    ñïàñèáî çà èíôó!…

  22. From Ruben on 22 Nov 2014 at 11:26 am

    .

    ñýíêñ çà èíôó!…

  23. From Paul on 22 Nov 2014 at 2:38 pm

    .

    thank you!…

  24. From Jackie on 23 Nov 2014 at 6:37 am

    .

    áëàãîäàðñòâóþ!…

  25. From Rex on 23 Nov 2014 at 12:08 pm

    .

    good!…

  26. From Ivan on 23 Nov 2014 at 8:06 pm

    .

    ñïñ çà èíôó….

  27. From chad on 24 Nov 2014 at 11:56 am

    .

    ñïñ!…

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *