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12 October 2005 @ 11:31 pm
art and argument  
It occurred to me the other night, during a speech by Noam Chomsky, that the social sciences, though based in perspective which is subjective, allows people to promote those perspectives as morally, intellectually, or politically "righter" or "better" than the opinions of the people with whom they disagree. For instance, Noam Chomsky, having done the research recognized as necessary within his field, has come to certain conclusions about The State oF Things that he feels are not only in line with his personal code of ethics but correct in some kind of universal sense. In social sciences, even if you recognize that no one can tell anyone they are right or wrong, you still must pass "right or wrong" judgment on people who believe that they can.

In art, it seems to me, perspective is the end of what you are trying to express and communicate. My painting of an apple tree can be worlds apart from your painting of an apple tree, but there is no necessary argument between them or us. I don't meant to suggest that artists don't fight over method, approach, tradition, etc., or that there is no depth to analyzing the variance in means of expression. Neither do I mean that social scientists can't get along. Just that in the world of art, one painting of an apple tree (or one career of paintings of apple trees) can never prove someone else's painting wrong, and artists seem to harbor fewer delusions that it can.
 
 
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massiveyak on October 15th, 2005 02:00 am (UTC)
what it sounds like you're getting at in your description of non-argumentative art about the same subject that gets at different things is a quintessentially postmodern one. that is , that age we live in, is one in which all interpretations are equally valid, that every text, every real object, can be represented in an unimaginable number of ways, and every representation can suggest multiple, conflicting meanings. now as i see it, chomsky is simply reporting some facts about media, and his selective presentation of various facts is used to make a case that certain truths are not heard as loudly as other truths in today's media environment, and that our concept of the truth is drastically warped by extensive stage management of world events, rather than an objective report of world events. it's not that the media reports utter falsehoods; they simply are one way of mediating events, and often that view is a shockingly biased one when one has done even minimal internet research on the matter. it's not that those perspectives aren't right, at least in some ways; it's just that the truth is usually far more complex than one would assume after reading any one news source, and the only way to get at a more complete picture these days is to analyze all images, news and otherwise, in their larger context.

by the way, i have a journal of artlinks too: http://www.allthatisislight.blgospot.com/
tellbylooking on October 15th, 2005 03:06 am (UTC)
I don't mean to argue with Chomsky; I agree with him (and you) about a lot of what he had to say. But you seem to suggest that if you "analyzed all images, news and otherwise, in their larger context" that there is some objective "truth" or "real perspective" to be found on the issues at hand. One, for example, being that the news media's view "is a shockingly biased one." Oh, and before you misunderstand me, I don't think there's anything wrong with making statements like that. I do think people need to go beyond those statements and look at the definitions and constructs they are supported by, like asking what is truth, objectivity, perspective, bias, etc. And I think any social scientist worth their salt does that so, once again, I take no issue with it.

So when you depart from your statement about all interpretations being equally valid in art and go off about agreeing with Chomsky, I sense an argument between us or between those ideas... but I don't see exactly what it is.
tellbylooking on October 15th, 2005 03:09 am (UTC)
Oh, and when I click that link it sends me to a list of paternity testing sites. I found the real blog, but I thought I'd let you know.