Wednesday, November 18, 2009

art as ethical transgression

Transgression is integral to the history of art, as ethically-transgressive art (from the allure of dark spirits through contemporary performance art); but commonly as formally transgressive: Once upon a time, perspective in art was transgressive. Pointillism was transgressive.
The notion of avant garde was inherited from aspirations to be “revolutionary.” A history of art in the ‘60s and ‘70s, written in the ‘90s, was titled Shock of the New. That’s apart from overtly political art. Google ‘art and transgression,’ you get a list of directly-related results (with “transgressive art” at the top of the list).

So, “human flourishing implies a ‘Self’ interested ethic” implies a mode of transgression related to art itself, just by being a dramatic element of the discussion of ethical self-distancing or self-differentiation relative to interpersonal (sociocentric) life. It might be no surprise that devotion to an art could be transgressive just in the sense that questioning common presumptions is integral to artistic motives. This was actually the kind of thing that first came to mind when I brought in the theme of one’s devotion to an art being “unacceptable” to one’s near-and-dear. In the beginning of a partnership, let’s say, one’s devotion to an art was quite valuable to one’s intimate other, as part of who I/you are. But the art, given its ownmost way, draws one into itself, commonly unanticipated, sometimes transforming oneself (oneself in itself) and sense of life. The artist is forever changed. The journey of developing the partnership becomes a challenge for both. Usually, it works out. Sometimes not. How valuable is the devotion to the art for someone feeling transformed?

There’s a mode of this whereby the artist just needs to get the message “Grow up!” Find a way to make it all work. That’s part of the art! Making it all work. Cut the shit—right? I know. I know good sense. But the history of art easily comes back to haunt. We read of persons who quit corporate careers to wander archaeological digs—that kind of thing. This fascinates me. The human condition, human potential, what is becoming of our species, fascinates me.