Saturday 24th of February 2024

art — according to Nietzsche, dr laura d'olimpio, plato, descartes, immanuel kant and gus leonisky...

light of the world...

Art is the supreme task, as Nietzsche would have it. How can we balance creativity with rationality? And what are the dangers of letting the Dionysian genie out of the bottle, especially in the public square? Dr Laura D’Olimpio, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame WA, appraises the value of a creative life.

Some of the big names in western philosophy have focused on human nature as primarily rational. In identifying the self with the logical mind, as Plato, Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant have done, a dualism results whereby the body, along with its senses and emotions, becomes de-centralised and often de-valued when we reflect on our human experience.

Historically, there have been philosophers who have contested this rationalist conception of what it means to function well as a human being. Existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the phenomenologists Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jan Patočka are three such theorists who reclaim the role of the body and emotions alongside our rational capacity in order to paint a picture of the human life as embodied and creative.

Nietzsche and the phenomenologists suggest that we should aim at a balance between our rationality and our passions. While the logical mind weighs up our options, it is our emotions that inspire us and motivate us to act. It is through our actions that we transform not just ourselves but also the environment through which we move and the space we inhabit. It is a creative act to give voice to ideas and manifest action in the world.

One way in which we do this is though art. In Nietzsche’s first major work, The Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872, the idea of living life creatively is embodied in his idea of living life as an artist. Nietzsche refers to two conflicting creative energies: the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

The Apollonian is the cool rational intellect, while the Dionysian is the passionate emotional aspect. Nietzsche worried that the society of his time only emphasised Apollonian energy and neglected the role of the Dionysian. Theorists like Plato, Descartes and Kant emphasise the rational aspect of humans, yet Nietzsche thought it was important to balance our rationality with our passionate experience of life, and he saw this balance best depicted in ancient Greek tragedies.

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Gus: Tragedy... and then there is the simply mad.  And a gamut of action in between mad and insane, including the pedestrian. Mad, but not quite, with many inventive, silly and clever new ways to look at things, expressed in a manner that is pushing the boundaries of the landscape. A curve drawn by an "artist" can be sensuous or crabby or too rounded – or bad. 

If we refer to some less philosopherizing people but more in tune with the craft itself, themselves masters in their own genres:


Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

Paul Gauguin (1848- 1903)


All art is quite useless,

Oscar Wilde (1856-1942), in the introduction to Dorian Gray


Then to quote that Mr Andrew Boorde (a 16th century defrocked bishop of Chichester who was sent to prison for keeping three prostitutes in his chambers at Winchester) again: 

A Master of Art

is not worth a fart



Can we call art, the cave paintings of Eurpean ancestors and the cave paintings of Aborigines in Australia

For Gus, art is the expression of a mindset designed to manipulate one's own and others' psyche. Art is an elastic mindset in which one can propose ideas using a skill of the hands (or voice) mostly to create illusions — some soft, some hard and some obscure, that will convey information — including non-information. Art is the interpretation of life, including that time of washing up dishes during which we could get inspired. But we need to go with Suzan Songtag a little way "Against Interpretations", but not too far otherwise we end up naked or loose our skin. Our bloody flesh gets exposed as the truth, then down to the next layer, that of bones. We need to be taken by what we see, into imaginings. Symbolism is lurking there at most time in most styles.

What we see is rarely void of a subtext — and Sontag embedded a lot of subtext in her "Against Interpretations". 

In the truth of life, we rarely know the truth. Tragedy often relates to "undeserved catastrophe" she says. "Death is the opposite of everything". And Gus says that everything is what we hope to give forever. 


Cartooning is one of the Gus' lowest form of art. Cartooning is simply cathartic and to the point. We are sold bullshit and we revolt against it, with a drawing. Quite inefficient in punching the lights out of the annoying bastards, as they still carry on, pushing their cart of snake oils as if nothing happened. And nothing happened, really. The bastards have thick skin and they don't feel the sting, and to tell the truth, they don't know we exist, apart from knowing we are customers for their snake oil, and they don't care about selling it well, because we've already bought the snake-oil through our taxes. 

So art is a variety of subjective human actions — and even art can become a habit of skills in order to become expressed with a certain kind of accepted professionalism. Style becomes the refinement of expression or the imperfection of the artist, chosen or not. 

And there is good art and bad art... But then who are we to decide? Can bad plagiarism become a revolution? Can a pedestrian painting become a great painting?

For example one the most atrocious piece of English art, an excruciatingly rendered religious painting, is called The Light of the World, painted by Holman Hunt. Gus cannot agree more with Athenaeum of 6 May 1854:


"The face of this wild fantasy, though earnest and religious, is not that of a saviour. It expresses such a strange mingling of disgust, fear and imbecility, that we turn from it to relieve the sight. The manipulation, though morbidly delicate and laboured, is not so massive as the mute passion displayed in the general feeling and detail demands. Altogether the picture is a failure..."

It was such a failure that The Light of the World became the most popular religious painting ever reproduced. There are so many reproductions in so many houses, of the said work, that it defies any understanding of the meaning of art.

So art is...:

Rembrant is not to be compared in the painting of character with our extraordinary gifted English artist, Mr Rippingille..

John Hunt, The Examiner.


I rest my case.





Because they have no sun, the English can be neither philosophers nor artists: they have no spark of synthetic [constructive] genius...

J P Oliveira Martins...


A bit below the belt...

huis clos...

Huis Clos. An art critic. In his famous play, Sartre defines hell as being in the same room with other people who cannot escape, though the door is not bolted. Hell is "other people".

I had the idea of similar circumstances in which one would create an opera from the concept of 13 people in an elevator stuck between two floors. The possibilities of drama and comedy are endlessly unfathomable. First of course, 13 is the "wrong" number for people being stuck in a little cage of stainless steel and mirrors. The opposing mirrors are a massive psychological problem as they multiply the size of the crowd beyond the darkness of "13" bouncing-reflections. It's spooky.

Of course the first instinct is to get rid of the fat lady, since she is the one who sings last. We want her to go first, quietly, in order to protect a safe denouement. We don't want her to sing or burn more of the average quota of thinning oxygen. She could be "sent on a selfless" rescue mission but the hatch is too small. Hum. Bugger.
Depending on the other people, including a mafia boss, we could end up with a massive shoot-out. Of course there would a nun there as well. One cannot have drama or comedy without a nun. 
So the artistic treatment depends on how many bums on seat could be imagined, on the creativity and callous adaptability of the writer's need of cash, on the producing team and upon the financier having to fund the staging of this potential fiasco...

Comedy: plenty of one liners between the revellers coming from two competing restaurants, Chez Turdy and Chez Zinger, who most of them are drunk and nonplussed... everyone is rescued. The fat lady sings but falls on her face as she steps out. The end. Guffaw. Note: the writer would have to be pissed of course, in order to indulge his Dionysian-self.

Tragedy: the whole thing after many attempts to escape like people of the Poseidon adventure in Wagner's Ring Cycle, crashes to the bottom of the pit. The soul of the fat lady sings a homily. Stirring worthy metaphor for life.

Hollywood Blockbuster... Fire chief, elevator technician and the nasty ethnic who sabotaged the lift. Explosions everywhere as the lift plunges down in slow-mo. But everyone is safe, of course, apart from fluffy the dog who did raise the alarm — because someone clever, a square-jawed hero who managed to climb from inside to the top of the lift, found the braking system and jammed it with a shoe, slowing the fall with one inch to spare, but hitting Fluffy. Fluffy is buried with honours in a human cemetery. The American flag is at half mast near by. The hero marries the young woman.

Maybe I should get George Henry Brandis' new criteria for Excellence to fund at least these three artistic versions of the caper. A hoot.
Meanwhile the earth would be burning from global warming and more bloody conflict plus massive poverty would affect 8 billion people. The same outside and inside the box. I see, that is what the mirrors were there for....


lifting the lid in elevators...


This story here presented to you in regard to the comment directly above about being stuck in a lift. Now one can add Godzilla to the lift situation blockbusters to be sponsored by our mate Brandis. Excellent. 

Japan is looking at installing toilets in elevators and providing an emergency supply of drinking water for people trapped by the nation’s frequent powerful earthquakes, an official said Wednesday.

The move comes after dozens of people were left high and dry, some for over an hour, after a 7.8 magnitude quake on Saturday that stopped lifts.

Most of the elevators automatically stopped at the nearest floor and opened their doors, but 14 were stranded between storeys.

A meeting between officials from the infrastructure ministry and elevator industry bodies agreed to look into providing toilets for emergencies, an official from the elevator makers association said.

These might include collapsible cardboard structures with a waterproof bag or absorbent material inside.

Some new lifts have small seating areas for Japan’s growing ranks of elderly people, and installing facilities underneath the seats is a possibility.

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sports versus arts...

The Betoota Advocate throws us a tricky challenge. 7 Reasons Why Australian Sport Deserves More Funding Than The Arts.

The answer to this is simple : YES. Art is mostly about controversy these days and who wants to fund controversy. Not government, that's for sure, they have enough of this caper on their plate from their own artificial turf inspired economic fiddles. All this could change if Art Shows gave gold silver and bronze medals instead of platonic love and token cash prizes. But for this to happen arts would have to become a non-controversial picnic in the park, like a revolutionary, but now traditional Monet level-playing field painting instead of presenting new ideas.
Most artists and especially cartoonists are too dumb to see that stirring the pot does not pay the bills nor does it attract sponsors. Imagine McDonald sponsoring an artist that would send them broke by producing art that would show McDonald making people fat? It's far more profitable to entice couch potatoes through someone else sponsored athletic performance. McDonald would have to buy the entire art collection and burn it in a PR stunt.
The government pays lip service to the arts and that's fine. Of course the Arts, being culturally superior to a sweaty beast underpants, can provide a background for politicians to appear intelligent when being invited to launch the opening of an artistic envelope. This of course demands some acclaimed film stars to be present on the red carpet. No point being seen with Jo ordinary Blogg. The press and its paparazzi want more than that.
But despite some art forms demanding perfection in repetition of the right note sequences in a Chopin recital, for example, with expressions of past eras of troubled emotional platonical romanticism, new art forms seems to be designed to make the politicians chunder. Chunderous applause is not the go, not even chunderous rejection. Ignorance can be preferable. Artistic death can be liberating. Works of art then become more valuable as the artist cannot produce more of his controversy. Find a good PR for the crap you bought and you can sell it for ten times the price. This is what made the Picasso's catastrophic portraits so popular with auction houses.
But unless you're a shooter or a female horse rider for the Olympics, your life as a sportstar hero is limited till you reach the ripe old age of 25, then you can become a well-paid TV commentator, on your speciality — the backflip turnaround in the short-course chlorine scented pool. Artists tend to stay broke till they die at 95 years of age, with a brush in their hand — unless they shoot themselves in a moment of crazy lucidity.
I forgot to mention Cricket. Special case. Here, one can be 35 and still play at international level as long as one is able to read the trickiness of the wearing old wicket and wear a grey moustache during the month of Movember. The mo looks a bit strange on the pubescent players. Despite being bald and searching for alternatives to toupees, older players can wear their greying moustache with a sense of active virility. Should male artists do the same, they'd be treated like poofters.
So the concept is clear. Aussie Sports deserve far more cash than the arts, because when a sports-person farts, it usually propel them forward, while for a farting artist, we all know what this means, as expressed in the arty-farty concept.
Not worth the cash.



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financing hollywood fiction ...


Screen Australia will suffer its third round of cuts in 18 months while the government scraps the Book Council of Australia as part of $52.5 million in cuts to the Arts and Communications, $47 million of which it will redirect to major Hollywood film studios for Thor and Alien sequels.

The government has also cut $36.8 million from government-funded galleries and museums under budget-saving measures announced on Tuesday by Treasurer Scott Morrison.

The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook outlines $52.5 million in cuts from the Communications and Arts Portfolio including the scrapping of the controversial Book Council of Australia, chaired by Melbourne publisher Louise Adler.


A further $36.8 million will go from "cultural and collecting entities within the Arts portfolio" although the Australia Council, which had $104 million in funding stripped under former Arts Minister George Brandis only to be partially reinstated under current minister Mitch Fifield, will not be affected.

The cuts will occur over the next four years and a three percent 'efficiency target' will also be introduced to affected institutions.

There will be $9.6 million cut from "a number of arts programmes", which includes the killing of the short-lived Book Council of Australia.

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Read all articles from top... The rant above (sports versus arts...) was of course tongue in cheek... But the treasurer thought I was bleedin' serious ... 


left for dead...

The latest funding cuts to youth arts companies will leave Australia with a hole we never knew we needed filled. The arts is not a plaything, it's a force for good, writes Laura Hartnell.

What has been missing from the chorus of theatre directors decrying the latest cuts to youth arts companies are the voices of the young Australians who will suffer most as a result.

When asked, young people are eager to share that the role of the arts in their lives goes beyond creating and learning from theatre, and is far more important than our policy makers seem to recognise.

That only three of 13 youth theatre companies in Australia will retain federal arts funding will have huge and tragic repercussions throughout Australia's youth arts sector, which, after having endured a decade of similar blows, has essentially been left for dead.

Youth arts companies provide a training ground for people to learn the ropes and become artists in adulthood, but more than that, they provide spaces where young people can find belonging and heal, especially those who are already at risk or struggling to cope with life.

I have been involved in youth arts since I was a kid, first as a participant and later as a facilitator. As a direct result of the nurturing, creative spaces I've had access to, I have been saved from my own self-harm, suicidal ideation, abusive relationships and social isolation.

I have also helped other young people through some of their darkest moments.

art for art(CIA branch)'s sake...

This November 22nd marked fifty-five years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Perhaps no other major incident in U.S. history has generated more uncertainty and skepticism towards its official account than his Dallas killing in 1963. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that a clear majority of Americans still doubt the Warren Commission’s determination that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone as the accused sniper, with many suspecting that others in government and organized crime were involved in a secret plot to kill the president.

Although its etymological origins can be traced back further, as a cultural phenomenon the notion of belief in so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ is widely attributed to a surge in distrust of government and media institutions that followed JFK’s murder. Perhaps its only rival would be September 11th, which surveys have similarly indicated a trend of doubt towards the 9/11 Commission Report’s version of events leading up to the attacks in 2001. In other words, most people believe in a major conspiracy theory — yet they generally remain a mark of disgrace and public ridicule.

At no point in time have conspiracy theories been as stigmatized as in the wake of the 2016 U.S. election. Incidentally, what is classified as such is no longer consigned to the societal fringe or ever been more popular. It is alleged that the spreading of “fake news” on social media, featuring debunked viral conspiracies like Pizzagate, was what tipped the voting scales in Donald Trump’s favor. Or was it the very realconspiracy revealed in leaked emails published by WikiLeaks that the Democratic National Committee rigged the party primary for Hillary Clinton? We’re supposed to consider that fake news too, apparently. Regardless, what is consistently never addressed is the reasons why people turn to unofficial narratives because it would require the media to address its own negligence to hold those in power to account.

An examination of the media‘s systemic failure would draw attention to its actual role in society as a tool of mass persuasion on behalf of the ruling elite. Perhaps if the official doctrines of the over-staged Warren and 9/11 Commission Reports were not treated as articles of faith, people wouldn’t be suspicious of a rogue shadow government hidden behind such obvious dog-and-pony shows. If there is no incriminating evidence in the JFK files, why on earth is the public forbidden to see them half a century later?

Instead, it is the working class who are demonized for expressing the human need to grasp the social totality denied by a corporate-controlled media that performs the opposite of its expected function. They are left with no choice but to fill in the enormous blanks left gaping by a press in service of the status quo and a government with no transparency. It is always the people who are blamed for the media’s failure to do its job.

The same can be said across the pond or for the West in general. Look no further than a recent article in British newspaper The Guardian alleging that “60% of Britons believe in conspiracy theories.” Its definition of ‘conspiracy’ is so broad that it doesn’t simply refer to beliefs about UFOs or the moon landing, but a general distrust of institutions, official narratives and authority figures in any form.

The article then conflates Brexit voters who hold anti-immigrant views with anyone polled who believes that “the world is run by a secret global cabal of people who control events together”, and then almost comically states “the most widespread conspiracy belief in the UK, shared by 44% of people, was that ‘even though we live in what’s called a democracy, a few people will always run things in this country anyway.’”

That is to say, The Guardian regards a view generally held by most rational people with an accurate understanding of life under capitalism as a ‘conspiracy’ belief equivalent to racism. The article even concludes that “distrust of company bosses”, a feeling unsurprisingly held by three-fourths of those surveyed, falls under the label of a conspiracy view. Yes, clearly anyone who doesn’t love their oppressors is in equal standing with bigots who want to leave the EU. The world’s self declared ‘leading liberal voice’ is a guardian of power, indeed.

The term ‘conspiracy theory’ itself is a weapon. Its use is so ubiquitous that it automatically implies unconvincing improbability and worthiness of dismissal. How and when did it come to be so widely dispersed in the cultural lexicon? In the 1970s, the CIA had been the subject of numerous scandals with disclosures about its activities ranging from meddling in the affairs of sovereign countries to administering mind-control experiments on citizens in MK-ULTRA. The revelations about its clandestine influence on the press was yet another divulgence. It turns out that a likely possibility for the genesis of the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ and its far-reaching dissemination was revealed in an important 1976 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by The New York Times in CIA Document 1035–960.


As the exhibit aptly points out, often what are designated as conspiracy theories in bygone times become indisputable facts years later. If there is now an abundant market for misinformation online exploiting the appetite of a public disillusioned by establishment media in desperate search of an alternative, the presstitutes only have themselves to blame. Claims on the right-wing margins about school shootings being hoaxes will never even begin to approach the irreparable damage done by every major news outlet in the country selling the lies of the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction to go to war in Iraq, not just to the millions of human lives lost but the trust of the masses in the mass media orthodoxy.

The same can be said about their unwillingness to truly investigate the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Following the 2016 election, the censorship campaign by social network giants against alternative media under the banner of stopping the spread of “fake news” can be seen as confirmation of the effectiveness of real independent journalism and it’s growing audience. Otherwise, it would not provoke such suppression. This development can either disenchant those hungry for the truth or be interpreted as a positive sign for the future, that people are starting to resist drinking the kool-aid— for now let’s choose the latter.

Everything is Connected: Art and Conspiracy is on view at the Met Breuer until January 6th, 2019.


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changing pants...


Between the experience of living a normal life at this moment on the planet and the public narratives being offered to give a sense to that life, the empty space, the gap, is enormous. The desolation lies there, not in the facts.”

John Berger, “A Man with Tousled Hair” in The Shape of a Pocket


From Edward Curtin


A few days ago, as I stepped into my pants to start the day as is my habit, I happened to notice the label at the waist band. It read “Gap,” and the sight of this word sent my mind spinning into a whirling contemplation of this void that lies at the center of life today, a subject that has disturbed me for a long time.

I had earlier that morning made the mistake of checking the news headlines on the computer. This too is a habit that I no doubt share with millions of other people. It is a dastardly habit no sane person should inflict on oneself. To rise from one’s night dreams and step into a litany of hyperbolic headlines shouting doom and gloom at every turn is to inject oneself with a poisonous drug before the sap of life has a chance to rise in one’s veins and one’s imagination might give birth to new possibilities.

Standing in my pants, I felt as though I were hovering over Berger’s enormous empty space, and if I didn’t wake up, I would tumble endlessly away. Thoreau’s words floated up:

To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?”

So I stepped over the hole at my feet and tried to shake the monotonous clatter of the monstrous media’s messages from my mind. In my vertiginous state I dared not look in a mirror. So many of the media’s lying words that I had already ingested with coffee seemed to float around and within me in an unreality disconnected from the actual world, even the world they were ostensibly reporting on.

I too had written many words about the drastic condition of our world today, thinking somehow my words, different from the corporate media’s, could move the world by pulling back the curtain that the powerful have created through clichés to conceal the sordid reality they have made of this beautiful earth. Yet the presentation of facts seemed to make no difference. Very little, if anything, made a difference.

Most of those who read my words more or less already agreed with me. And many, even friends and family, just ignored them, anticipating that they would disturb them. And the mainstream publications shunned them like the plague.

Between my desire for a changed world and the world that seemed to change only for the worse lay the desolation Berger identified.

Many people feel it, I know, especially dissidents who fight in various ways against the powerful. But we prefer not to go there, to see what it consists of and how we may transmute it into acts and words that might make a difference. We prefer to make believe we are making a difference by repeating ad nauseum the same prefabricated responses, usually directly political, to the atrocities committed daily.

We are caught in what Czeslaw Milosz, writing in a different context, called “ontological anemia” – “among this illness’s symptoms is the nothingness sucking from the center in.” 

We try and try but seem to devour ourselves by repeating the same approaches, as if all the slaves know is what their masters have taught them. Milosz knew this because he was an artist and a spiritual seeker, not just a political analyst, and also had personal experience with the totalitarian mindset that is descending on the West.

The twists of history can make one’s head spin.

In writing about Vincent Van Gogh, whose hunger for reality drove him to produce works of achingly loving beauty, John Berger, the quixotic Marxist, writes:

Reality, however one interprets it, lies behind a screen of clichés. Every culture produces such a screen, partly to facilitate its own practices (to establish habits) and partly to consolidate its own power. Reality is inimical to those with power.

Yet while Van Gogh sought reality by breaking the mold, the rich and powerful have devoured the results of his efforts and have transposed them into commodities. Last year, his painting, Laboureur Dans Un Champ, painted from an asylum where he had committed himself, sold for $81.3 million at Christie’s after a frenetic auction.

A humble peasant working in a field becomes a trophy for the rich, who keep the working man slaving away. Words and deeds are turned upside down on desolation row where

Between the windows of the sea where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much about Desolation Row

We need to think again. Imagine! Today we are caught in a void of clichés and in the clutches of rapacious elites. Only acts of creative imagination will free us from their clutches.

I look to my right and on a shelf I see a vividly painted Matryoshka doll. It startles me into the thought that like Matryoshka dolls, so many of our personal habits that deaden us to imagining a way across the gap to a better world are nestled within social habits of thought, speech, and action. We are so often encased like tiny cloned dolls in the social clichés that make us smaller versions of the powers that we say we oppose but which we mimic. We are carved and painted in their likeness, and caught in the habit of reacting to them in ways that reinforce their control.

We must disrupt our routines. We must find new ways, not to just respond, but to take the initiative. When we react according to habits, although we may not realize it, we are being controlled and not in control. Habits, like the word’s etymology reveals, may reassure us that we have, hold or possess a position of strength from which we can move the world in our direction, but the only Archimedean lever and fulcrum capable of that is inspiration.

That involves a new way of seeing, not vertiginous but visionary.

I think I’ll change my pants.

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the art of crapping in your own house, religiously...

A former chaplain to the Queen argued that covering up the image of Jesus would be tantamount to disrespecting him in his own house.

An Anglican parish church in the UK has courted controversy over its plans to cover up religious imagery while hosting a Muslim prayer.

The vicar of the St. Matthew and St. Luke's church in Darlington had invited Muslims attending a nearby mosque to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan in her church, The Times reports.

Male worshippers were expected to say prayers in an aisle while women would be separated off into smaller rooms.


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This shows a total lack of respect of women, as well as a total lack of understanding what your own religious dunny has been consecrated for...


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