Sunday, December 02, 2007


Donald Preziosi in Rethinking Art History:

"We have seen something of how the metaphorical apparatus of the modern discipline works to establish and to position artwork and art historian relative to one another as functions within a panoptic, anamorphic machinery. It has been suggested (and I believe this to be correct in its general outlines) that the discipline also serves to project or to validate a certain kind of viewing Subject: ideally, passive consumers, and, in more contemporary contexts, educated and discerning cryptographers--but receivers of messages all the same...In this regard, of course, it shares with other humanistic disciplines (perhaps most closely with literary studies) a highly complex and self-perpetuating analytic theatre of power and is perfectly clear that art history knows what it does. And it frequently knows why it does why it does. What it knows less well, however, is what what it does does. The pursuit of that understanding, which entails a re-membering of the lines of rupture and contradiction papered over by art history as it perpetually misreads its own history, is surely our most pressing task."

This quote (to me) is a reason to read (or re-read) Joseph Cooper's Autobiography of a Stutterer, Bhanu Kapil's Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Araki Yasusada's Doubled Flowering, Paul Celan's Breathturn, and Susan Howe's The Nonconformist's Memorial. All of these texts (again, to me) seem to beg questions of the reader that put them into a performative participation rather than passivity...all of these texts are in ways interrogations...attempts to "re-member" their own histories...I'm not yet able to fully articulate the specific implications of these texts...but they are texts I believe to exist in opposition to panoptic power....and as a result bring themselves into an important ethical relationship to their readers/performers...they remind me to ask what does poetry do do?

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