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December 19, 2006

On 'Art Bollocks Revisited'

The verb bollocks has one meaning: make a mess of, destroy or ruin.

" ... one has to marvel at 'thinkers' who disassemble the basic tools of rational thought for fear of disproving their own political beliefs."

"... The more skeptical among us might suspect that the unintelligible nature of much postmodern 'analysis' is a convenient contrivance, if only because it's difficult to determine exactly how wrong an unintelligible analysis is."

Sound familiar? Think about our so-called academe, the mainstream media, and even our political leaders!

David Thompson's must-read piece, Art Bollocks Revisited, deals with the quasi-Marxist influence on art education and criticism, along with the prevalence of pseudo-intellectual gibberish and its roots in postmodern leftist thought. However, you'll notice in his article - close parallels and juxtapositions with other influences on our everyday life:

[...] Art bollocks has become institutionalised, normalised and is now practically the default way of writing about art and culture for seasoned journalists and a-level students alike. Like Orwell's Newspeak, art bollocks is variously used in a knowing way, as an in-joke, a private language, a posture, or maybe out of fear - to maintain some questionable status among equally questionable peers. This particular critical idiom has also spread from an increasingly politicised world of art theorising to adjacent areas of political and cultural criticism.

[...] That acquiescing to evidence is, for some, a failing demonstrates just how far postmodern theory can deviate from reality. And one has to marvel at 'thinkers' who disassemble the basic tools of rational thought for fear of disproving their own political beliefs. Grimly, I'm reminded of Mao Tse-tung's infamous dictum: 'There is no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics.' With this in mind, the prevalence of postmodern bollocks is more than a trivial irritation confined to cultural criticism. If those who 'wield the post structuralist lexicon' take their theoretical and political cues from people who openly disdain reality and coherence, particularly when such details conflict with a chosen ideological posture, one has to question their motives - and pray that, as with Sokal, it's all just a joke.

In reading David's piece I couldn't help but think how applicable it was to not only the "supposedly serious academics" employed by our "supposedly serious institutions," but also, in a sense, our own mainstream media (and to some degree our politicians who speak bollocks and openly disdain reality and coherence).

David's article is published in the new issue of Eye: the International Review of Graphic Design (#62, Winter).

Source: Hyscience

Posted by Richard at December 19, 2006 7:56 AM

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