Monday, September 27, 2010

Are Our Writers as Bad as Our Bankers? Or: Another View of the "Elliptical"

Urban Intellectual Fodder.

Neither original nor path-breaking, this art is derivative hommage; postmodern commentary around the edges of art.

It is art born of attitude, not passion. It is art that postures but doesn't grip. It is art created by those who are more passionate about a career in art than about art itself.

It encompasses:

1. The indie rock spawned in urban art ghettoes.

2. The visual art spelonked in Williamsburg.

3. The movies sputtered by independents hoping to get into Sundance.

4. The novels spritzed by creative writing majors from Iowa University and other environs.


What distinguishes this art from actual art?

Primarily, this is art that thinks about art. Art of the intellect, not the heart. Art done to bring us the smart, not the art.

The artists of Urban Intellectual Fodder act like art critics doing art -- they're better about their art than with it, better on their art than in it. Their art is done to show their smarts, and that's primarily what one gets from their art.

Smart art: in America, the land of anti-intellectualism, it's perhaps inevitable that our art should devolve into a screech against the national celebration of the dumb.

Unfortunately, this art does the smart thing to the detriment of the other things that art can do. It does the soothing, lulling thing, because it is art to make the viewer feel smart. The audience I'm talking about wants only that from art: to be made to feel smart. So they get their art of the brain, for the brain and by the brain. Art that panders with its braininess.

Urban Intellectual Fodder is the prozac of the American intelligentsia.

It's studiedly smart; it's properly elliptical; it's quite self-aware and often very meta; it is extensively footnoted, either actually or mentally; its distance from its material is either ironically remote or uncomfortably close-up; it is intensely minimal or wordy or effects-ridden, in either a refined or extravagant way; it specializes in conceits, and sometimes its conceit is to be devoid of one; and it makes its small points, and sometimes its big obvious ones, in either a very guarded or rather grandiosely ironical way.

Critic James Wood coined a name for it: “hysterical realism.” Dale Peck had a name for it, too: “recherche postmodernism.” Both ain't half bad.

You know who and what I mean: everyone you imbibe by book, CD, movie or artwork creates Urban Intellectual Fodder.

-- Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash; read the full magilla at 3QD.

[Of course, MAD magazine had the skinny on all this fifty years ago; click here.]
Pictured: the National Bank of the Republic


Jordan said...

You go Evert Eden!

Shelley said...

Is there anything more boring than meta?

Jordan said...

> Is there

Yelling "Off my lawn" when you don't have a lawn?

John Beer said...

This rap music isn't singing, it's talking.