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    Art: a means to regain the laughter of infancy

    Art: a means to regain the laughter of infancy

    I am trying to comprehend why humans do the things we do and can we do a better job of creating a better culture. I have been reading various sources that indicate that art and artists can be an important element in comprehending these matters.

    Civilization has become an uncritical style of life that sacrifices the free energies of the citizen to a self-absorbed and largely fictional pattern of social meaning. Free energies can lead us back to the laughter of play provided we gain a comprehension of the possibility inherent in art.

    In his book “Wit and the Unconscious” Freud affirms a “connection between art and the pleasure-principle, but the pursuit, through art, of pleasure incompatible with the reality-principle is not despised but glorified.”

    Freud recognizes an important connection between art and the pleasure-principle—art makes fun with the reality-principle—art is wit in humor’s clothing—wit recovers our childish behavior and places that playfulness into a form that the reality-principle will accept—the purpose of art is to “regain the lost laughter of infancy”.

    When the psyche is not organized for acquiring our essential needs and instinctual demands for mere survival we can let that psyche work for our pleasure just from the mere fact that humans find pleasure in pure passionate activity. Art knows how to rediscover our childishness, our need for play, and our need for disinterested activity pursued merely for the pleasure such activity might bring.

    We strive, through play, to reach the euphoria that Carl Sagan express when he said “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

    Freud uses the metaphor “art is wit”; we use wit as a means to find our way back to the pleasure-principle that has been hidden from us by our grinding capitulation to the reality-principle, which we have made education to be. We seek through art to regain “the laughter of infancy”.

    What do you artists have to say about this matter?

    Quotes from “Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History” by Norman O. Brown.


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    Can Freud's theory be tested in any way? I doubt it. Thus its not quite science he was doing.

    As far as Art being Wit, I'm not too keen on that. Certain artists are witty, like Saul Steinberg. But wit is a verbal skill mostly. And art is pre-verbal. You wouldn't say Frazetta is witty as an artist. Frazetta doesn't offer some grammatical puzzle or surreal metaphor to dissect. He offers a fierce aesthetic reality that arrests you with its beauty and power. And its these two things, beauty and power, that often gnash the gears of intellectuals. Beauty and power are primal forces. Reason is not. Thus intellectualism is a weak force compared to the emotionalism of art. Frazetta would probably have a better grasp on Freud than the reverse.

    Freud can talk your ear off for years, while Frazetta can knock you out in one punch.

    As far as creating a better culture, that's a tough one. The intellectuals who ruin everything with their half-baked theories aren't going to give up their well paying jobs as minders, either in schools or academia or in newspapers or in publishing. And their long standing sway in the culture has left large swaths of it defenseless and denuded, unable to enjoy without guilt, unable to think without politics whispering in their ears, unable feel without cynicism... "Oh, my heartstrings are being tugged. Someone is manipulating me".

    And now we are coming to a world that comes to your doorstep as cyber reality. When the xbox and Playstation3 generations come of age, will there be better culture or worse? Will more people go to galleries or less?

    What is to be done, is always the question. The answer is always, "do anything you can".
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Can Freud's theory be tested in any way? I doubt it. Thus its not quite science he was doing.

    What is to be done, is always the question. The answer is always, "do anything you can".
    What do you mean by the word "science"?

    I assume you disagree with Freud' statement "art is wit in humor’s clothing". What would be your definition of art?

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    Assuming you mean visual art in particular, the poor thing didn't have an identity crisis until 200 years ago. Before that, art was the only way to record visual information, real or imagined. So it did that. Then came photography, and ever since, art's been staring at its navel mumbling, "what am I here for?" and coming up with progressively absurd answers.

    The real question is -- what is music? Seriously, why do sounds at different pitches and tempos reach right in and grab our emotions? Why are some sequences of notes sad? Why are others gibberish? And why does Chinese folk music sound like tomcats being skinned alive with cheese graters?
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

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    Quotes from “Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History” by Norman O. Brown.
    How much of your post is yours, and how much is quoted? It's not clear.
    What would be your definition of art?
    Oh god. You didn't.

    If you're going to take a Freudian approach, sublimation is probably a more fruitful avenue to explore.

    Tristan Elwell
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    "Work is more fun than fun."
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    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron

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    this thread groans of deviant art.

    also chinese folk music and chinese opera sounds that way to you because you are a SAY GWAI LO (maybe)! i've actually grown to enjoy it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    What do you mean by the word "science"?

    I assume you disagree with Freud' statement "art is wit in humor’s clothing". What would be your definition of art?
    Freud saying "Art is Wit in Humor's Clothing" is a statement of opinion. Just because Freud says it, doesn't make it The Word. Art needn't be witty nor humorous, so as far as I'm concerned the contention is a prima facie falsehood. It not only isn't correct, it barely even makes grammatical sense. Thus my "not science" opinion.

    I have a thousand different definitions for art. Since art is a colloquial word it changes meaning as the culture changes over time. And of course, a culture can have a civic split over a word, where factions hold the word to have various meanings, and I think that's what's happened with the word Art.

    My best attempt so far at an inclusive definition is contained in my sig, "Art Delivers Life". I arrived at this as an attempt to reconcile unherdable thought-cats by avoiding saying what art is and isn't (which tends to anger those "included out"), but instead stressing what Art does.

    I believe critical judgment is a necessity in order to restore a more gratifying culture. My judgement criteria is the degree to which Art Delivers Life. And furthermore, what kind of life it delivers. The is a critical framework I would like others to adopt as well, as it leads to a consideration of cynical and nihilist art for what it actually is. The main issue for me was always adolescent nihilism and cynicism masquerading as quality.

    I believe, ceteris parabus, quality will find its own way in the marketplace.

    kev
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoat View Post
    Assuming you mean visual art in particular,
    Why would you assume that?

    I am interested in learning how art is important in my understanding of human nature and possibly how art can help us change the culture we have created. I have read seveal different thinkers about this matter but wanted to find out what the artists them self thought about their past time, hobby, profession, etc.

    Do artists not think about what art is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    How much of your post is yours, and how much is quoted? It's not clear.

    Oh god. You didn't.

    If you're going to take a Freudian approach, sublimation is probably a more fruitful avenue to explore.
    I use quotation marks when I use other people's words.

    Why would the study of sublimation help me?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    I believe critical judgment is a necessity in order to restore a more gratifying culture. My judgement criteria is the degree to which Art Delivers Life. And furthermore, what kind of life it delivers. The is a critical framework I would like others to adopt as well, as it leads to a consideration of cynical and nihilist art for what it actually is. The main issue for me was always adolescent nihilism and cynicism masquerading as quality.


    kev
    I agree with you here. Thinking critically is the foundation of good judgment. It appears to me that young people think that to be negative is to be cool. Hopefully they grow out of that attitude before it deforms their ability to think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    I agree with you here. Thinking critically is the foundation of good judgment. It appears to me that young people think that to be negative is to be cool. Hopefully they grow out of that attitude before it deforms their ability to think.
    Negativity is the easiest emotion to harness for political purposes. This is one of the reasons why negativity in young people is encouraged by certain highly active participants in the political discourse of this country. This is why certain highly active participants in politics actively recruit young people, while they are confused and disillusioned and before they have a chance to escape from their negativity through experience and consideration. Ideology is inserted as a crutch, where hard experience and contemplation might eventually build a nest.

    I consider most political discourse to be absolute corrupting poison that is killing the culture. Therefore I am against the mixture of art and politics. I have no defense against this mixture, merely a activist's belief in rallying people against it as a destructive and divisive force. Where politics is intrinsic to an artwork, I would seek to encourage people to view that work of art without consideration of the political statement as a political statement per se, but as a view of life. Since political ideology offers a corrupted version of life, I seek to have people see political works as works by those who have been corrupted by ideology and are unable to see life outside that reference frame.

    Best,
    kev
    At least Icarus tried!


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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst View Post
    Do artists not think about what art is?
    Professional artists generally find the question “what is art” better left to the novices. We’re too busy making art to find such armchair pondering to be of value; that, and we already know the answer. Try asking a farmer if they think about what farming is, and I’m sure you’ll get a similar answer.

    My view of art is practical: either I’m decorating or communicating, or both. Either way, I’m having fun and collecting a paycheck. It doesn’t need to get any deeper than that.
    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling View Post
    Professional artists generally find the question “what is art” better left to the novices.

    My view of art is practical: either I’m decorating or communicating, or both. Either way, I’m having fun and collecting a paycheck. It doesn’t need to get any deeper than that.
    Sorry to hear it. I had hoped that artists might have a different slant on the world than most other people.

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    They probably do, but they probably also realise that time devoted to chin stroking, circular "what is art....?" discussion is time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.

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    I would imagine the world's greatest lovers aren't particularly interested in the question, "what is the meaning of human sexuality?" They're too busy out there having great sex.

    It's like that.
    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).

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