15 May 2021

The All-None Problem

Richard Gombin
The Origins of Modern Leftism (1971)
trans. Michael K. Perl (1975)
per H. Lefebvre:

pp. 70-71—"...before life can become the art of living, art has to invade life. ...artistic activity enables participation by the individual in the world: art has always been the highest form of creative work. The individual can only become liberated if art ceases to be a specialized activity, ceases to be, in its mercantile form, a reified activity. ...men will only be happy when they are all artists."
And yes, if they are all artists, then none of them are artists. Hence "supersession." Is there more? If we deconstruct the "mercantile form" of modern art just a bit, we in fact find quite a few artists (both pros and committed hobbyists) seeming/claiming to derive their specifically artistic brand of fulfillment either directly or, more often, indirectly (yet unmistakably) from the receipt of external validation via the reified form of practice/reception. It is "reified" per se specifically for creating an exchange value, which is the quantificational vehicle of this external validation. The all/none issue, trite as it may be, thus asks us to consider whether art is really "the highest form of creative work" or whether it is, rather, merely the most powerful differentiator among subjects, hence the most powerful ego stroker. The latter is certainly ripe for supersession, but I suspect the result to be None rather than All, and that sounds less like utopia than a different kind of pestilence.

[from a post-it, 2018]

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