This week was mostly devoted to our Swamp Thing roundtable which isn’t done yet! Jog’s got another post and I’ve got another post. Swamp Thing — he shambles on.
As Splice Today I talk about Zen ink drawings and why art is corrupt:
As it is, the painting seems to be a deliberate effort to unenlighten. A viewer can’t help but turn the Bhodhidharma from nothing—abstract lines on paper— into something; the Bhodhidharma, who is not there and then, despite his own parable, is. When the emperor asks, “Who stands before me?” the response “I don’t know” is not a statement of ignorance, but the declaration of a name. Similarly, the calligraphic message here twists back on itself. You cannot read, “not know” without knowing; the words inevitably convey the message that the wrong message has been conveyed. And even the broken strokes; do they really suggest a presence that is more ghostly than real? On the contrary, the gaps in the line serve instead to emphasize the hand of the artist; looking at this image, Jiun’s brush seems like the stiffest, most solid thing in the universe—more solid by far than the centuries he’s dragged it across. More solid, too, than the person looking at the image, who, along with the emperor, is less an individual than a dumb, appreciative foil—a blank, sympathetic page upon which the seer inscribes his own outline.
I have a conversation about Kant and evil over at Bert Stabler’s blog:
Bert: According to Zizek, the sublime thing in Kant’s Law is that it makes the individual responsible for her own decisions, since the Law does not give specific instructions– which addresses your idea of the Law being in one’s heart. But paradoxically (surprise!), that’s what takes the responsibility out of the person’s hands, since they’re acting in the name of this nameless, faceless injunction, in which all desire and pleasure is pathological, and pleasure comes from and desire reaches toward humiliation (punishment).
At Madeloud I interview artist and musician Matt Steinke of the band Octant.
Steinke: I have been making drum robots since I graduated from college in 1997. They seem glamorous when you talk about them, and they are often more complex than they appear and sound, but technically speaking, they are mechanical drum machines – acoustic electronically-controlled musical instruments. I have a mechanical toy piano, a mechanical bass guitar-like instrument, and a mechanically bowed zither. I use guitars that I have modified or customized, a toy guitar, a toy accordion, a music box that has magnetic pickups, and my sampler theremin watch. I also now have a homemade harmonium.
Russ Smith at Splice Today has an acid take on Hank Williams’ belated Pulitzer.
And posts like this are why I continue to really like Andrew Sullivan.