Skip to main content

Conversation about aesthetics and politics, at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club

Jack Clare
do you prize aesthetics or politics more in movies?
Angela Perez I'm not a big fan of "preachy" films. That's not to say that I don't value films with depth and important messages if they tie in organically with the plot and don't feel forced. So, I suppose I prefer aesthetics over politics.
Jordan Morris Brash In the best films they are in concert with one another
Ray Byram Politics belong to documentaries. I would say Aesthetics and Purpose more than politics
Emilio Arnau politics combined with radical aesthetics
Jack Clare what counts as a radical aesthetic?
Emilio Arnau you'll know when you see it.
either something that wasn't there before, using one particular stylistic device throughout the film or taking it to its logical conclusion or who knows.
define radical the way you want it and that's it.
Maureen Daniels That's like asking if you like chocolate better than pickled herring.
Ralph Benner Like my herring in sour cream.
LikeShow more reactions
Marcia Birch Good answer, Maureen!

Maureen Daniels My favourite, Ralph Benner!! 😅
Elias Roses Can they be separated?
LikeShow more reactions
Chris Okum I would agree. They can't. For example: Michael Bay's politics are embedded in his aesthetics.
Elias Roses Leni Reifenstahl would think otherwise . . . but I think the court of History has sorta passed judgement on what she thought and what really happened

Jack Clare i think that they are ultimately seperate

Elias Roses Jack Clare Please explain - a formalist might believe their aesthetics have no worldly place, but to have a worldly place is to have a situated politcal impact. ANd if you have an audinece then your aesthetics worldly place is in how it affects others - ie how it motivates, energizes depresses or otherwise affects their worldly lives ie-thei being with others ie: their political lives
Jack Clare so every action is a political action? i disagree

Andy Bee every action can be translated to the political

Andy Bee and then again, art speaks to an audience, even if that audience is an internalized representation, and so if there is communication, there is message, which makes all art political

Jack Clare just because you say that every action is political, doesn’t mean that it is. that’s an infalsifiable statement, which makes it no better than dogma
Jack Clare i’m drinking coffee right now. i could just have easily have chosen tea. is choosing coffee over tea a political action? if so, why?
Elias Roses I personally hate art that wears its politics on its sleeve and think that 'political-first' art is tantamount to agitprop, however, to deny that a human-made artifact, especially when it is immersive artifice, is a social thing with social and political affects in the world is to be, from the perspective of an artist, irresponsible: hence the problem with Riefenstahl's denials of any measure of complicity with the Nazi Propaganda machine. Art that is merely politics through the lens of aesthetics is bound to be terrible at both in my opinion, and artists, even if they intend to be purely formalistic should be aware that whatever they make is born form a background and cary that background and biases and assumptions with it, and, also is born into an environment that will receive whatever in some measure with social and political affects. That's why something like Game of Thrones is actually one of the most political things out their, i fact the way that it obscures its tacit assumptions has the double effect of reinforcing our political unconscious.
Elias Roses And yes, every action is political, just as in Buddhist thought, when you give grace before a meal you don't thank God, you thank the driver who brought the meal, the farmer who plowed the field, the store owner, the hired hand, their parents for raising them and so on - the whole world is interconnected. Coffee is grown all over the world and sowed by workers who's wages are interwoven with geopolitcs
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare Might have been against the British, once upon a time. Right now, privately in choosing coffee over tea it might have no impact on your developing conscious. But the associations applied to these two products do change, and maybe are in the midst of changing... for some reason with brexit, tea sounds suddenly more british than before, and coffee more working class american. We may not be those who are much moved by political "passions," but if, actually, we are, we might in making this simple seemingly innocuous choice be extending a kind of political orientation in ourselves that was beginning to emerge.
Jack Clare elias - that's a weak analogy

Fiona Taylor I'm surprised (in a New Yorker forum) how many people don't seem to grasp that art is inherently political.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Fiona Taylor There is a certain context to the idea of the matching of them that people might be inclined to resist, even as they want to agree with it. The idea of politics in all consumer choices, for instance, has me thinking French theory... there's a terrific recent book by "mythomania," by, well, a brit -- Peter Conrad, but it's inspired by barthes, that specifically comes immediately to mind. I don't resist that at all, but it's "political" in sort of an agitating and power sense, rather than, say, an organic, developmental sense, where for instance in beginning to choose consumer goods in the 1950s, people were expressing their comfort in no longer letting themselves live the shrivelled up lives of the Depression. That's political, but it's not one group of people informing another group of people, to expect to be crushed.
Fiona Taylor Patrick McEvoy-Halston - That sounds interesting. I'll check it out. I'm always interested in how choices affect identity. On a side note, I'd also argue that our society's love of reality shows is political, and hey--our president used to be reality show star.
Jack Clare fiona - if you can exhaustively prove that to be the case, i’ll concede the argument
Fiona Taylor I wasn't aware we were arguing. That said, that would be a thesis and I'm not really prepared to write one for a Facebook forum. That said, I truly believe that.
Jack Clare i mean argument in the philosophical sense, as in presentation of ideas, not in the colloquial sense
Jack Clare and not between us specifically, i was referring to the broader argument in this thread
Jack Clare it’s one thing to believe it. it’s quite another to say that other people are “unable to grasp” it, impying both that it is a settled matter, and that anyone who doesn’t accept it is stupid
Fiona Taylor There have been many books written on this topic, so I'm not exactly sure how to convince anyone on a FB forum. I'm sorry if my language offended you.
Jack Clare could you point me to some of these books?
LikeShow more reactions
Jack Clare and i wasn’t offended, don’t worry about it

Andy Bee Elias Roses well said!
Jack Clare the production chain of coffee may be political
me deciding to drink it is certainly not
not all action is political

if you stil disagree i can go on finding banal, arbitrary activies all day
Jack Clare in no way have you proven that every action is political

Patrick McEvoy-Halston Fiona Taylor And you're right to find it strange to see that everyone who reads the New Yorker wouldn't assume the link. However much it is easy to imagine someone common deciding not to eat french fries to show their disgust at the French deciding against entering one of America's brutal wars, typically it is going to be the no-chance-they'd-be-a-newyorker-reader who'd stage something like eating a big fat steak, and saying, "apparently with this I've just doomed our world to greenhouse gas extinction." Rush Limbaugh I think actually did this.
Andy Bee Jack Clare Or, to rephrase your position, we have yet to crack your denial and resistance to the concept. Here’s a clip from Wikipedia:

Politics (from Greek: πολιτικα: Politika, definition "affairs of the cities") is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (this is usually a hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities.
Jack Clare i don’t buy this idea that brexit is gonna make coffee sales drop
Andy Bee Jack, politics is a frame. You can frame your self, your thoughts, your choices as being divorced of politics, and another can flesh out how rife with politics your thoughts and choices are. Intent and implication are different.
Jack Clare excellent, quoting wikipedia. whatever next

Andy Bee Jack Clare I went to Wikipedia to show you how basic the idea is
Jack Clare the distribution of resources has nothing to do with what i choose to buy and eat, except in the rather banal sense of “if nobody supplied coffee, i couldn’t have it”
Jack Clare i understand what politics is. i disagree that the definition you’ve supplied encompasses the actions of every individual
Andy Bee If you don’t want to feel politically responsible for every decision you make, that’s cool, I don’t want to either, it’s oppressive and annoying as shit when people thrust their ethics on others and feel it’s their responsibility to make others “see”. Nevertheless, our choices have ramifications. Can’t be denied.
Jack Clare that’s a completely different idea entirely

Jack Clare every action is political implies that human psychology is subordinate to politics
Jack Clare if i move a chair from one side of the room to another, is that a political action?
Andy Bee No it doesn’t. It simply implies that human psychology doesn’t exist in a vacuum and that you are shaped by the social world and your choices have impact in the social world.
Jack Clare that’s self-evident

Jack Clare but it’s a different proposition than “every action is political”
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare You're not trying Jack. Might brexit affect British consumption of foreign goods -- of european goods -- and increase that of products thought of as more inherently british? Done not even at wilful level, but unconsciously... born out of the same arising impulse that lead to this great surprise of british parochialism?
Jack Clare you’re creating strange equivalences. the words social and political are not interchangeable.
Andy Bee They’re inextricably linked
Jack Clare patrick (still can’t do these tags!) - prove to me that it is having a significant effect
Andy Bee Jack Clare now you’re just talking about measuring
Jack Clare measuring? i don’t follow
Jack Clare if social and political and interchangeable, then spending the day with your friends is a political action
Andy Bee Jack Clare just google it dude
No automatic alt text available.
Jack Clare these tactics are evasive.

if you read the very source you provided, this is saying that the cost of tea, as with every other item, has risen because sterling has fallen

this does not provide evidence for the claim that nationalistic ideology, stirred up by brexit, will make people choose tea over coffee
Andy Bee ✌️
Jack Clare the article below the first actually works against patrick’s idea, because it says that less tea is being imported
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Jack Clare You don't seem to be interested in proof against your proposition Jack. It should be easy to find articles saying how british consumption of whatever has gone up since brexit, or that it's about to trend that way... well, this NewYorker say that brexit will mean a populace FORCED to eat more traditionally, less internationally,

but for an article saying THEY ACTUALLY WANT this fate -- which they do -- just as they knew what they were doing when they voted brexit, how much more circumscribed to being "pure" british it would help them become, here's one on the conservative environment minister Michael Gove articulating that to some there is such a think as pro UK cheddar, and non-pro UK cheddar (i.e., villainous cheddar), and that brits will happy to go with the patriotic choice:
Jack Clare this is an article bemoaning the fact that we’ll have to pick up the bill for farming subsidies?
Jack Clare since when does the opinion of michael gove represent all british opinion? most people i know think michael gove is an idiot. he’s hardly an arbiter of culture.
Jack Clare in addition, his argument is quite a clear economic one, despite his rather odd outburst about patriotism; if you’re worried about import tarrifs, buy uk cheese. it’s really nothing to do with the cheese being “villainous” as you decided to put it
Valda Vee Fiona Taylor I disagree that all art is political. I doubt whether my 5 year old portrait of her auntie was political.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee Freud had some interesting ideas as to what exactly begins to go on in a five-year-old's mind, that if I remember, has some bearing on the political.
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston Freud did have some interesting ideas and not to discount them all but many have come under scrutiny. Context has a lot to do with art making. But to make the claim that ALL art is political is a stretch. Inferences are not evidence.
Elias Roses Yes psychology is subordinate to politics, but even if it were not, it would still be contextualized within a world where every physical action is within a world, a world completely connected. You can decide not to drink coffee, the coffee you didn't drink would still have a chain of connections that include economics, ecology and, to some degree aesthetics - your NOT choosing it still relates to those arenas yet perhaps through different ways other than direct effects upon those arenas: perhaps through sublimation of psychic energies, through a re-routing of your own energies, perhaps self-discipline or etc, or perhaps because you didn't buy coffee you went for a Cola instead, the effects may be minuscule but they are real nonetheless. There are no actions that are not of-this-world, and to be of-this-world is to be connected to the political realities of-this-world.
Elias Roses To say all art is political is different than saying that all art is within a world who's horizons are political and therefor involved with and effecting political realities.
Valda Vee Elias Roses yes it’s very different indeed
Elias Roses The former implies that all art wants to be political, yet the latter understands that all art has politics as its eventual horizon of effect.
Ola Aksnes Valda Vee I think that depends on whether you define all painting as art. There are of course different definitions of what art is, but the more common one today seems to be something made with visual agency (if we define art as something beautiful we run into problems with subjectivity, as well as art movements not too interested in the beautiful; and if we go for originality we'll have exclude things like Byzantine icons whose artists were more interested maintaining tradition than making something imaginative). This means that it is something that has the power, and intent, of influencing us in various ways. Using like a doodle (or your five-year old's painting) as an example of non-political art therefore seems lacklustre.
Elias Roses So I guess that means that yes all art is political except that not all art wants to admit it, or include overt politics within it
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Valda Vee A lot of Freud's ideas HAVE come under scrutiny, for sure. But the idea that very early something weird happens in the mind of a child, is coming back to the fore in discussion with Trump. When you start hearing psychologists say that Trump's narcissism is sourced from a basic narcissism that a child has through to age two, focussing once again on Freud's Oedipul would seem so "mere" in comparison.
Elias Roses The 5 year old's portrait is a perfect example of political art: the child is growing and learning, is not completely inserted into the social-order yet,and yet still uses the means given them and still is adapting to the environement within which theylearn - their ideological structuring is not yet complete but is in the process of solidifying itself, they are the picture perfect example of the process of becoming politically, ideologically and psychologically normalized
Ola Aksnes Freud's enduring "popularity" doesn't necessarily vindicate his theories. See:
Valda Vee Of course painting is art. It was one of the main conventions of art before film. Beauty is not a criteria of art at all. The definition of art is simply whether it was made with the intention of being art. My daughters portrait of her auntie was not a doodle and it wouldn’t matter if it was. It was made with the intention of being art, and so it is.
Elias Roses The word 'art' is understood by artists and philosophers since Duchamp at least, to reveal not the artness of a thing but the fact that the made-thing has been inserted into the social order such that it has been named 'art' - 'art' now is understood as a discursively constituted function. IE: a social construction, a consensus a politcal concept
Valda Vee Patrick McEvoy-Halston I don’t disagree
LikeShow more reactions
Valda Vee Elias Roses you’re over complicating it. Art is art because that was its maker’s intention. The meaning or messages in that art are a whole ‘nother thing
Elias Roses The life of the made thing after the artist's intention, whether it survives as 'art' or is convincing as 'art' enough for others to call it such, depends on a combination of factors, but mainly it depends on other people. As Duchamp said, art lies in the posterity of its reception (I paraphrase) You might want your object to be 'art' and think of it as such, but getting it to have a life as 'art' beyond you is another matter, a social matter.
Elias Roses And because it is a social matter it is involved with the political
Ola Aksnes Valda Vee Did you misread my post? I said *all* painting, not simply painting. I also specified that your dauther's painting was not a doodle by clearly separating it from the example supplied.

If a category is defined as being constituted of things intended for that category, then the category has no criteria beyond intention and becomes both circular (self-perpetuating) and meaningless. If an act was moral because it was intended to be moral, the category of moral acts would be similarily meaningless. Why would we need the word art if creation would suffice to describe anything created with the intention of being created?
Elias Roses Ola Aksnes 'intention' is an entirely over-used concept, specifically when applied to artistic and political issues, since. Intention is not a ghost that accompanies a person's activities and confers its magical meaning on their pronouncements, their meanings and actions are in the utterance and action itself and their effects. and intention dissolves in the after-life of a work - it doesn't matter what the artist meant, it matters what the art object does, which sometimes goes hand-in-hand with the documented sayings of the artists, but those sayings are basically another action themselves a made-thing.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Ola Aksnes Venturing to persuade someone against Freud isn't interesting, because there aren't many Freudians left... or at least Freudians who haven't adapted their theories so they're neatly in line with today's sensibilities -- so out penis envy!, and much more (this btw is one of Crew's arguments for saying the movement is charlatan, without basic integrity). But this year there was the earthquake of #metoo, and although no one has addressed this, what this movement has shown is that we are now at a moment when we can admit that sexual abuse is massively prevalent, affects multiple millions if not billions, and it's largely been invisible. How does this affect the ant-Freud movement? Frederick Crews was the lead voice in denouncing Freudians, but also those in the recovered-memory movement, where he "demonstrated" that victims -- children in this case --shouldn't be believed. Bad spot, that, to find oneself in now, which he is, because it looks like you just borrowed on a public's desire to disown real pain. It also means that people are grappling with the possibility that near a majority of the human populace are victims, and that this victimization meant a diverting away from original plans. Well, how far is that from the ability to grapple with the possible reality of castration anxiety, and what all that did to how we structured our psyches. Anyway, thanks for the link. I've read it before, but appreciated the prompt for the re-read.
Elias Roses As Lacan said, America has repressed the idea of repression. it took me decades to outgrow my locked-tight Freudianism, and yet I still see very very much value in reading him, especially concerning the Thanatos/Death drive.
Elias Roses I also think American institutions don't read Freud because they don't read him and don;t realize how many of his ideas dovetail with their own ideas.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Elias Roses For me I had to come to have more respect for his basic ideas (and I really have), because he focuses so much on the oedipal whereas i'm preoedipal, and from most people who venture "there," terms like ego/superego don't come up as much. More narcissism, borderline, real self, false self stuff.
Valda Vee Ola Aksnes lol. I’m assuming you don’t mean house painting, graphic design, or sign writing. I’m referring to all painting (including my daughters art in the context of an art class) that is made with an artistic intention, is art. Art generally has meaning, it’s generally not meaningless, but the meaning might not satisfy your criteria or expectations. What the artist meant is of great significance and relevance. It probably matters more than your interpretation or your opinion.
Elias Roses Yu are displacing the issue onto something called 'meaning', which is another entire ball of wax.
Valda Vee Elias Roses I mean intention as a synonym for the “act of”
Ola Aksnes Patrick McEvoy-Halston I thought the article was fairly neutral in its approach, the author seemed critical of some of the more far-fetched attacks on Freud as well as being wary of where he might have been less reliable. I simply wanted to point out that many ideas persist without that giving them more solid ground to stand on in itself; i.e. the fact that some people might refer to Freud again in discussions of Trump need not make him more right. I'm not well-versed enough in psychoanalysis to offer my own take on anything in that field, but I appreciate your take. Going to be reading more of it this year because it still seems rather pervasive in literary analysis (which is one of the two areas in my field of study, the other being philosophy).
Valda Vee Elias Roses I already said it was a whole nother ball of wax
Elias Roses Meaning and intention are not the same thing,especialy if the unconscious is taken into consideration,but even if it isn't.
Valda Vee Elias Roses never said it was
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Ola Aksnes I'd take Crews over Menand, and I'm a Freudian. Menand is here, safe. At the end of it I felt I hadn't read much of anything. You don't often encounter Freudians who haven't backed away from anything about him that today would seem outrageous, but if Crews was still one, no part of his brain would be compelling the remainder of it that it no longer sees truth in things it actually still does.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Ola Aksnes Wonderful fortunes to you on your studies. Sounds terribly exciting.
Valda Vee Elias Roses you seem to believe that an artwork must have some kind of aesthetic merit or other factors for it to be “convincing” as art, and I think that’s where you’re confused. It doesn’t. Can be be complete shit, but it’s still art, it’s just that it’s bad- which is again a subjective point of view.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Elias Roses Documented sayings of intention are not, as you know, the same thing as the fullest account of their actual intention/motivation, which might not be consciously accessible. I say this because I think that true, that is, one's actual Intention, matters, because it is manifest in the end product. I don't see how it dissolves at all; only what is truly false about your declared intentions, does that. What it, as you say, "does," surely depends on the intentions manifest in it, as we respond to the object, recognizing it as an extension of another person, who is trying to communicate in some fashion. Expressing it as you do makes it seem like art gets co-opted, is easy to co-opt. It doesn't seem to leave room to recognize what we think goes on ideally with art: the sensitive, hopefully providing a kind of new vision, leadership, for an audience that is mature enough to let itself be moved by inspiring and perhaps more evolved people. With this reading of how people can interact with one another, the only way a work produced by a powerful artist could be used against purpose so her intentions carry no after-life and are dissolved in use, is if the people are on some kind of fascist roll.
Elias Roses If the intention is something that is not included in the work, revealed by the work, and never is expressed, if it has no physical manifestation it might as well, just like Wittgenstein's bug-in-a-box, not exist. The artist can say, "but that is not what I meant at all" ad infinitum, if they can never say what they meant, chances are they are deluding themselves as to some higher 'meaning'. Which is not to say that a work will not 'mean' beyond what the author is aware: that is too often the case, and with a good artist they understand that. The interiority of of our subjectivities is way too aggrandized. Everything happens at the interface - just as with mystical Judaism where the interpretation becomes 'the text', and with Freud, where the retelling of the dream is the re-dreaming, our interiority is only the symptoms revealed, how we are in the world. It doesn't matter what Shakespeare wanted to say, it's what he said that matters, and what he said that reveals and unfolds an 'interior' that we create through interpreting. A very excellent, but out of print book that talks about this, as well as many things, is by the Philosopher David Couzens Hoy, called the Critical Circle, also later Wittgenstein, Deleuze and Nietzsche.
Elias Roses Valda Vee I never said anything about it needing to be 'aesthetic.' all it has to do is somehow force the application of the word 'art' on it in order for it to be considered art beyond the wishes of the 'artist'. The artist can call something, anything, art till the cows paint themselves. But in order for other people to call it art they need to actually do so, for whatever reason, and not necessarily an 'aesthetic' reason, in fact, for whatever reason.
Elias Roses But, there are tendencies and strategies - that's why there are art schools. These days they teach as much tendencies and strategies to figure out ways to get people to apply the word as they do traditional craft, or aesthetic formal concerns.
Elias Roses RE: the intention thing: Lacan: "the unconscious is structured like a language" meaning it's all revealed, it;s all on the surface to be interpreted.
Valda Vee Elias Roses sorry, you’ve misunderstood my use of the word ‘intention’. I tried to explain it before. I’m obviously failing. The simple fact that a person intends to make art, simply - had the intent to make art’ the outcome of that activity is art. Regardless of its quality, meanings or messages or whether it’s genius or piece of crap. Other labels are assigned depending on a kazzilion other factors such as style, genre etc etc
Elias Roses Valda Vee I am not disagreeing with this, what I am saying is that the intention does not imbue the thing with 'artness'. If that artist never gets another person to call that thing art that object will not be art for anyone besides the one who calls it art. Once s/he is dead, if nobody ever calls it art, it won't be - it might be something that you could conceivably think of as 'object that once was art for a person', but even there if you talk about it like that that is baptizing it with the name "having once been called art". 'Art' is not an ephemeral spiritual incorporeal element that hovers around and in art objects, though strong art might inspire and generate the effects of expanded imagination and life and spirit - but that, the idea of strong, or 'good' art is an entirely different matter.
Valda Vee No you’re still wrong. It will alway be art because it was made with the purpose of being Art. The thing is art no matter who owns it, what happens to it, whether whether it’s worth $5 or $5M, whether it’s s Picasso or whether my daughter painted a portrait of her auntie. The thing is art forever.
Elias Roses No, that is not the case, to say it becomes 'art' is to attribute a quality to it, as an existing addendum to its sheer physicality, some quality that is said to exist within the work due to it having been called 'art' by its maker, and, as you said, for no other reason. That is simply not true, unless you are talking about it having the quality of the 'having-been-called-art' as being a quality that is the same as its being 'ar', as its being an art object. In the future, when the object is dug out of the ground there will be no way to know the thing was ever called art by the maker, especially if it in no way was ever called art by any other person through its life. There will not be a metaphysical substance stuck to the thing, a substance called 'art', because 'art' is a term used by our culture that holds within it a bunch of our concepts, specific to us. Now if that object exhibits a lot of those qualities, the qualities that we tend, due to convention, call art, such as formal qualities, then it is likely that the object would attract the word form people besides the artist - but that is not a necessity. Besides that to say that once it has been called art it is art for all time is to make a metaphysical statement about the eternal static nature of all existing ontic beings (specific beings, as opposed to ontological: Being in general). I am of a tradition, philosophically speaking, that does not hold to those notions of ontic eternal metaphysical qualities with the exception possibly of thinking of them as gedanken experiments in the vein of Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence of the Same.
Elias Roses As Duchamp said, art has a life, it is born, it lives and it dies. a thought he followed with, its life is in the shape of its posteriority.
Jack Clare oh dear, not duchamp again. that's the second time i've been told i need to listen to him on this forum
Jack Clare i loved this - "the word 'art' is understood by artists and philosophers since Duchamp at least". every single artist and philosopher since duchamp agrees with him? i think not.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Elias Roses It's hard for me to determine if we're on the same page or not. We might be. Your first sentence (if I'm reading it right) suggests we are -- that the intention must be in the product, and if it isn't, then it doesn't exist. There is something about what you say which has me thinking of how artists could mature and become aware of their actual larger motives; that their complaint should be with themselves, for they're being exposed for possessing motivations they would deny, and it is only now that they can be exposed, for they don't as much have ideology of the great artist backing them without heavy contest by other ones. So established theory, which usefully backs off the familiar and comfortable concept of the great artist being misunderstood by the pleb who can't reach his/her heights. Your argument that the interiority of our subjectivity being way too aggrandized works against what I was saying, I think, because I was talking about art as an extension of an artist's interiority. More than this, actually, for I was thinking that it matters to keep an artist's intention in mind, because we do react to objects responding to them as a particular way in which an artist had hoped to communicate with us. To say it doesn't matter because we're just dealing with an object, worries me a bit, because I fear it might encourage a defensive attitude towards people that works for us, namely, to be cold and refusing: to help us deny what actually is in fact there, because we can find people oppressive.

I think I want to stick with my way of thinking of it as your way (or I'm thinking it might) can lead to a denial as how artists can change us. Interpretation becoming the text makes the original "text" seem so powerless; it gets happened to: it does none of the changing. But if the text is manifest artist, we're more apt to recognize that whatever our intentions for the object, if the artist-in-the-object has some therapeutic ability to change us, the text is likely to mean to the public, closer to the artist's actual overall intention for it.

Thanks for the book link. You don't convince me that if we dug up an object there'd be no way to determine if it was called "art" by the maker, to know the motivations behind making it. The problem for me is not that the makers are no longer there, but that there is a powerful motivations to misinterpret other's object use, which would apply even if the object, the maker, and the whole culture was before the examiner for her explorations. Once the examiner has evolved a bit, and the object she is studying itself might help prompt this change, if it is in fact "inspiring," if it is in fact art, then whole loads of evidence can disappear and she can find herself only looking at a few objects dug up in excavating the structures of a building, and get at the motivations quite accurately. Great knowledge of how people become, based on a variety of parental "styles" -- abandoning to progressive and helpful -- would be required, however. With that you could look at a sole object and say, this was a fetish. it was revered because it contained an ostensible ability to undo death, or whatnot. you can tell because... Or, you could explore it and say, no, by the effect this object is having on me, this was art -- something from a emotionally evolved human being.
Emilio Arnau Is this kind of a idealism vs materialism thing?

If a work of art lead an insular existence, outside of this world and more importantly, somehow separated from mankind, then of course it would suffice for it to have been created with a certain intention and idea in order to categorically award it the title of art.

But ultimately it has to exist in our world, in society, judged and defined by people. As Elias said, Art is only whatever people call art. Otherwise you would need to assume that art was a consistent quality, independent from human judgement.
We invented art, there was a time when it didn't exist, and there might be a time when it stops existing.
This means that art is either, a consistent quality but like the thing in itself we can't ever perceive and properly grasp it, or more likely in my opinion (and also just more useful a definition), art doesn't exist outside our judgement.

How else would we explain that something might have been called art in the past and now it's not? Would you still call it art once mankind is gone? Or is it then just an assembly of rocks?

So, ideally, intention should suffice to create art, but practically, at first everyone else and then that the ones writing history are going to decide whether they put it in a museum or throw it in the bin.
Elias Roses Patrick McEvoy-Halston When we turn to the artist to explain their work of art we are asking them to externalize another object that supplements the work of art. These two objects then, in effect, enter a dialogue together with us as well. You can then add the extra idea of including an intention that is not expressed by the artist, but the unexpressed intention is, as long as it is unexpressed, merely our conjecture as to what the artist intended. In order for it to matter he would have to express it ad it would then become another object of interpretation. IMO, expressed intentions are only needed as supplements to art work when the art-work is not good enough to carry its own weight. I see a lot of artists' talks, where they show slides and talk about their work. The good artists will always talk about there work in erms of saying things like "while I made this I was interested in these ideas" or "I worked with this material because I liked i", artists that are not yet mature will say things like "I mean it to say 'this'" -after all if it was meant to say "this" then wouldn't saying "this" be a more effective way of saying it?! If an artwork needs a supplement, needs the artist to explain it then why wasn't the explanation part of th work in the first place?!
Ola Aksnes Even if we were to adopt the view of naive materialism, for the sake of discussion, assuming that the intention somehow integrates with the product (art) to add an additional quality onto it seems like an incredibly vague and peculiar metaphysical statement. This does not seem to function for any other category in reality either. I cannot make a blade just because I intend to make a blade, because the category is defined by properties that needs to be present for something to belong to it. One might argue that there is such a thing as a subjective category and indeed that would include the subject being able to determine what properties make up that category, but these categories need also have a function in language if we desire them to be of any consequence. If a category is solely constituted by the property of 'being intended for that category,' then it becomes meaningless and might as well be replaced by a simpler category like 'creation,' which would include any products no matter their intention.
Jack Clare like a blade, you intuit the telos of an art object from the object itself in most cases, and you don’t have to know that it’s art to do that. if an alien dug up a landscape painting, it’d be able to intuit that the point was that somebody had created, or recreated, a scene for the purpose of viewing
Jack Clare it’s only with pieces like in advance of a broken arm where this is impossible to do
Elias Roses Jack Clare IF the alien could intuit it was a re-presentation - fine. that is not the definition of the word 'art'. To bring in purpose to this mix in the use of the word 'telos' also implies Idealism, a-la Hegel, and in that view the entirety of 'art was subordinate to the purposes of Reason's self-unfolding towards Self-determination, or, it's more prosaic use in Christian eschatology - also inappropriate for this discussion IMO. The word 'art' is one we have it is used and applied in a number of ways. The word really has come about in history. Before the word came about, there were objects made and used in similar ways to the ways we use objects that we call 'art' today. But when the word came about we retro-actively used it to call all of those other activities 'art' as well. For a very long time this was done because we assumed the similarities meant there was a sort of universal set of qualities to these activities. But lo-and behold, these activities were not the same, or rather perhaps the word itself was insufficient, or perhaps the idea of a universal set of qualities was too narrow. We now tend to look at objects from that era and use the more appropriate 'artifact' when speaking technically, and still use the term art when talking incorrectly and colloquially. Artifact is a good word because it touches same root words of artifice, proto-indo-European 'to-join' + factum 'to make'. But 'art' has come to mean something other, some sort of making other than that of the factory (factum) laborer, and something other than the adornments of the temples for the pleasure of the gods. Some say the word indicates a deep alienation in our culture, the idea that we have separated an activity that used to have a 'cultic' value of its own and was completely integral to the civilizations that didn't have that word. They go on to blame the rise of Capitalism, or the rise of Metaphysics. But the main point is that now it is a word that encompasses both what I mean and like and think of as art, and whatever you mean and like and think of as art, and the idea that it has a universal set of qualities is not part of how the word is actually used in all its usage - whether I want it that way or not. A great book that starts from the point of view of a Martian coming to earth and asking "what is this art word I hear?" I recommend is: "Kant After Duchamp" by Thierry de Duve - great book..
Jack Clare i know everything i need to know about duchamp already, there’s no way i’m ever going to read a book about him
Jack Clare there are almost certainly hundreds of better books to be read
Jack Clare by telos, i just meant, the purpose for which something is created
Jack Clare with no metaphysical baggage
Elias Roses Sure, I knew all about Duchamp before I studied Duchamp and realized I actually knew nothing. But perhaps you have studied him in depth. But either way, that book, which is excellent, is about much more than merely Duchamp. As far as my 'telos' blurb, sure sure, but I never miss an opportunity to talk Hegel.
Jack Clare what exactly do i need to study?
Jack Clare his art is bad

Emilio Arnau he doesn't. that's what he said.
what's wrong with you. i don't know why you posted this question in the first place.
sorry for my lack of patience.
Elias Roses I made no conjecture about your level of familiarity with his work or with the reception of his ouevre. But I will say, before I took a seminar on his work, I merely thought he was the clever author of a few pieces, including the 'infamous' "Fountain'
Emilio Arnau Just found this about that shovel thing.
That's just beutiful, haha.

Jack Clare i asked the question because i think it’s an interesting question. i’m not the first person to ask it
Elias Roses "his art is bad" -well, that may or may not be the case. But after him, it doesn't matter what you think about the quality of his art, it is still called 'art' and that is one point that is perhaps the point of why so many people have and will continue to talk about him. Generally though, I take such a dismissal to indicate that no further talk is possible or fruitful here.
Jack Clare just bc something is called art does not make it good
just bc something is influential does not make it good
Jack Clare i could substantiate why i think it’s bad if your interested
Elias Roses Of course not.
Elias Roses how does one 'substantiate' on a subject?
Jack Clare i’m not even taking the bait with that one
Emilio Arnau your question is an incredibly interesting question—one could really gain something from listening and considering the vast different answers with an open mind.

that's me, peace out,
Elias Roses, thanks for the book recommendation
Elias Roses 'Bait'? is our discussion devolving into 'bait' and the slinging of opinions? too bad
Elias Roses Perhaps I am to blame for calling out the creative use of the term 'substantiate'. for that I apologize. But also perhaps the time for fruitful additions to the ideas in this discussion has passed.
Jack Clare i do have an open mind. that’s why i asked the question. having an open mind doesn’t mean just agreeing with everything you say straight away
Jack Clare you grammar checked me on something i’d already spotted and edited out. how can i read that as anything other than a provocation?
Elias Roses the spirit of grammar checking was there, and if you like I could edit that out. But, by the looks of the post above the awkward use of the term remains. IMO, when a discussion gets to this point it's best everyone stops.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Elias Roses The time you spent was appreciated.
Ola Aksnes I added the books you recommended to my reading list. ^^
LikeShow more reactions
Valda Vee Elias Roses are you an artist?

Jack Clare i hope my time is appreciated too
“.... dogmas construct an incumbering chamber of gates, walls, and shackels”
David Kaiser aesthetics. There are better places to go for politics.
LikeShow more reactions
Emilio Arnau everything is politics. why should film be less qualified to do so than other mediums?
Jack Clare in what way is everything politics?

Emilio Arnau because everything is ideology, in the althusser sense, and every action represents / depicts / propagates some kind of ideology, even if you are the only spectator. and that's just in daily life—in a work of art it's even more discernible.

plus, being apolitical is still political.
Valda Vee Jack Clare I love this use of absolutes as if that seals the argument
Jack Clare alright, so first thing. i just walked up some stairs. was that political?
Jack Clare must have been party affiliated stairs
Jack Clare secondly, you're making politics into a trivial thing with this interpretation. in your framework, politics is the passive mode - because you do it by accident, all the time - whereas being apolitical is an active choice. surely it should be the other way around?
Emilio Arnau both can be either. i don't see why that matters.
Bjorn Arvidsson Sorry to sound (be?) stupid, but what do you mean by politics in movies? On-screen, behind-screen, studio-politics?
Jack Clare i meant on screen, sorry for the confusion
Bjorn Arvidsson I suppose being in line with many of the radical aesthetes, I can say I like politics, but woven into the plot, please! Although for me, many things political are an obvious part of many movies and need to stand down-stage-center; a lynching's a lynching: no way to hide that.
Bjorn Arvidsson I suppose my answer is: make the movie you want to make, and make it compelling; I'll watch it if it's good,.
Jack Clare yeah, that’s a pretty good maxim. i agree with you.
LikeShow more reactions
Max Perkins Cornell interesting aesthetic sensibilities tend to improve otherwise unremarkable films more than political and ideological views that I agree with save the films they appear in if the rest of the film isn't carrying the weight. But at the same time all my absolute favorite films have a lot to say about human nature and society and thats what I connect to. while they may look great thats often secondary in terms of what I can point to when I say this is one of my favorite films
Jack Clare i would say that human nature is a completely different ballpark than politics; that’s psychology imo
Ralph Benner Politics doesn't reflect human nature?
Bjorn Arvidsson I suppose, as any other discussion like this, we end up discussing the definition of the words being discussed..
Jack Clare politics describes a certain limited range of human activites, yeah. i don’t think that politics can encompass the entire range of human behaviour.
Ralph Benner Bjorn Arvidsson Yes, back to "semantics."
Jack Clare human behaviour
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack ah, but that encompasses politics...
Jack Clare to paraphrase dostoyevsky, men are not piano keys. ergo, the only thing that can encompass human behaviour is human behaviour, represented honestly, and the underpinnings of that behaviour, explored to the best of our abilities
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack which leads to a need for a definition of "honestly" A movie is by definition subjective
Jack Clare bjorn ( i can’t do tags properly! ). - that’s what i said initially, that politics describes a small range of human behaviour
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack I would disagree; I would maintain that all human activity describes the whole range of human behaviour.
Jack Clare i wish you could write replies to specific comments without that the structure of this breaks down very quickly.

instead of honestly, a more specific technical term would probably be, scientifically
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack But how could you explain human behaviour scientifically and still encompass the (subjective) entirety of it? Isn't that why we have philosophy, religion, a.s.o.?
Bjorn Arvidsson I suppose the point I'm pursuing is that the terms at hand are elastic, and therefore no definite answers can be reached.
Jack Clare i don’t see good philosophy or good theology as being much different from good science, it terms of method

even writing follows scientific rules, in that the writer establishes a set of axioms (if they’re good) and then expand the story out of them (if they’re even better than good)
Bjorn Arvidsson IMO, the problem with your arguments in this discussion, Jack is that you're defining many of the terms too narrowly; movies, just like philosophy, politics, aesthetics and certainly theology are extremely widely defined terms which in many ways defy definition on the terms you wish. The reason the discussion is so much fun, but ultimately pointless/fruitless, is that the terms at hand defy narrow definitions. Movies are the same; we may know what a specific director meeant to portray or meant for us to see or feel, but s/he is as powerless as a painter or poet or composer to make sure you, the beholder/listener/reader feels those specific things. Dunkirk may or may not be a politically conservative movie, depending on who sees it and the lens through which they interpret it; just like any other work of art.
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack an axiom can be vague or specific.
Jack Clare i don’t know, i think that maybe you’re giving up the chase a little too easily
Ralph Benner What method comparable to scientific study and empirical evidence supports philosophy and theology?
Max Perkins Cornell well first, if watching films that were literally about politics was more important to me than aesthetics I would almost never watch any films because there aren't that many films being made about politics. but even with films made about politics even if a lot of interesting ideas about politics might come into play the film will largely suceed on the basis of its ability to create engading drama. to do that a film about politics will have to speak to larger ideas about human nature such as what it means to have values or what it means to compromise values. questions about what it means to exist in the world and in society is often very political while not necessarily being a "political" film and really every films has political ideas in play at some level even if they can't be plainly seen
Jack Clare ralph - inductive reasoning, and having to hold yourself accountable to a consistent set of principles
Jack Clare max - i would say that human nature is in no way subordinate to politics, and there’s probably some relation between a film and it’s politics, such that, the less overtly political a movie, the more banal it’s politics become
Bjorn Arvidsson I can also add that aesthetics is a very loose word; a director who makes a decision about the look of his/her movie, has decided on aesthetics. Just as all you need for theatre to happen is a space, a viewer and someone walking across that space, a movie can have a very simple, stark, bare, grey, a.s.o. look and feel, and still have a fantastic aesthetic, surely? Any word you use to describe a chosen aesthetic is a value-judgement which in turn means that an "aesthetic" is chosen and visible.
Jack Clare i just meant anything that looks good to you, but it is a pretty vague term tbh
Bjorn Arvidsson Jack It's an interesting discussion, especially if we allow the definitions of the words to stay somewhat vague
Francis James Alan Hardaker Depends on the movie and my state of mind at that moment.
Luke Heister Aesthetics
Emina Melonic Always!
Bjorn Arvidsson This was a fun question; Thx Jack Clare!
Bjorn Arvidsson I suppose the vagaries of the possible discussion lies greatly in the fact that the two terms at hand do not stand in a position of being "pure" opposites; you can have any amount of blending of the two without encroaching on the "purity" of either.
Bjorn Arvidsson was that overly anally-retentive..?
Ralph Benner How about elusive? That always suffices when engaging in discussions of aesthetics.
Max Perkins Cornell yeah I mean if you watch a film by oliver stone such as JFK or nixon there really isn't anyway to seperate the aesthetics of the film from the politics of the film because they are so often one in the same.
Pam Richards This is a good question. I wish I could say I always prize politics but I know that is not true. One of my favorite movies this past year was Dunkirk. The last Christopher Nolan movie I liked was Momento; the few movies of his I have seen between Momento & Dunkirk have been far too male & conservative for me. But I was thrilled watching Dunkirk & everything that thrilled me was aesthetic; even as I was watching I knew its politics were conservative. And yet, I remained thrilled.
Jack Clare i think that’s ultimately how i feel, a well constructed piece of art trumps whatever the politics of the artist are
Jack Clare i didn’t really see dunkirk as being an overly political piece though. what exactly did you find to be conservative about it?
Emilio Arnau i don't think that one can trump the other.
just because a film is effective in its methods doesn't mean that it won over its politics.
you can watch a leni riefenstahl movie and be amazed by it, but once it's over you still know the third reich isn't something to aspire to. it's up to you then to call it your favourite film of the year.
Pam Richards I believe everything is political. I understand not everyone shares that view. Before I saw the movie I knew Nolan had chosen to focus on white men almost exclusively; although women, & people of color played a larger part in the actual events at Dunkirk. That is a political choice he made, & it is not a choice with which I agree. And the movie promotes war, which is a political choice, & I am not in favor of promoting war. However I was thrilled with Mark Rylance's decency & Tom Hardy's heroism, & I cried while the Elgar music played & we saw all the little boats there for the soldiers, & I wanted to cheer when the soldiers on the train started hearing how they were regarded. I guess the aesthetics overcame the politics in my regard for the movie, but my politics were not altered.
Jack Clare i agree w/r/t women and poc, although, it didn’t especially ruin the film for me, however. i would disagree that it promotes war. the movie spends the whole run time making it look horrific
Jack Clare your politics don’t have to be altered for it to be a good movie, i would say
Jack Clare oh, and emilio, i never said that if a movie succeeds on a an aesthetic level, that means it’s politics are ok
Emilio Arnau no, i know, but you were saying that a film can 'succeed' despite its politics due to its aesthetics, or did i misunderstand you?
i agree that a film can be efficient despite its politics, but that alone doesn't make it a good film imo.
Cynthia Mejías You can have a political film with great aesthetics. Aesthetics is not a genre.
Jack Clare i know it’s not
Jack Clare if we take aesthetics to mean, the technical/visual/narrative elements of a movie, what i mean is, can you enjoy a movie with politics you disagree with, if it’s valuable aesthetically, or is it a complete no-no to enjoy a movie if you think it has bad politics?
Cynthia Mejías Aesthetics, meaning production design, cinematography, sound and post production complement the story told. It’s a big draw for me but I ultimately choose movies based on what I know about the story, the cast and the director.
Jamie Gorham Year of living dangerously, Unbearable lightness of being.
Luiz Gustavo Vilela An aesthetic choice is a political one.
Jack Clare explain
Luiz Gustavo Vilela Ok, my english skills are not that good, but I'll try anyway. Even if you thing aesthetics as just the visuals (witch are not, they are more related to the feelling one person or goup of persons has towards the world), you can see how they are related to the politics. One small, but strong, example is the casting choice of, lets say, a transgender person for a transgender role. Is a matter of aesthetics, but is translated into a politic one. I hope the ideia is clear. That's a complex issue even in portugese, hehehe.
Jack Clare don’t worry, i can understand you fine :)

i agree with you up to a certain point. the example you gave was a pretty good one also. i’d not considered the choice of actor.
Luiz Gustavo Vilela Not just it. Consider the Sofia Coppolas's Marie Antoinette with an All Star. It is also an aesthetic choice that is again political.
Jack Clare i’ve not seen marie antoinette. it’s one i’m gonna get round to soon though
Fiona Taylor Luiz Gustavo Vilela - Or Sofia Coppola's remake of The Beguiled. That was certainly political, although I'm not sure in the way she meant it to be.
Luiz Gustavo Vilela Yes! Because aesthetics are independent of ateurism. Although they often are together (Nolan, Kar Waii, Ford, Hitchcock, etc... Etc...)
Fiona Taylor Hitchcock is a great example. His heroines are very controlled, blond, and icy, even as he was harassing and abusing them in real life. He could control them on film (and was trying to control many of them in real life). To me, that's a mix of aesthetics and politics.
Mark Schaffer Good storytelling
Jack Clare i would bring that under aesthetics, although i realise that may be a fairly non-standard version of the term

Chris Karr The more appropriate accurate distinction is Aesthetics or Ideology. Obviously, aesthetics is the only correct answer. Especially these days.
David Vinson So aesthetics aren’t ideological? How?

Jack Clare so every aesthetic choice ever is ideological?
Chris Karr aesthetics are the opposite of ideology. Two separate beasts.
David Vinson Yeah, you implied that already but I asked the question because I don’t grasp the claim.

As for how to define ‘ideology,’ take your pick. My opinion is that not everything is ideological—“blood” in a certain context need not be ideological, but it is in certain others, like “blood” in the discourse of fascism.

If you can agree, however, that aesthetics are a kind of discourse, then I’d say they signal ideological choices. Don’t we employ aesthetics with desired effects in mind?

Aesthetics often aim to mystify too. Aesthetics promote, naturalize, universalize, denigrate, exclude, and seek to obscure certain social realities. If that isn’t ideological, I don’t know what is.
Chris Karr A cursory glance at the definitions of ideology and aesthetics make the inherent differences between the two terms easily graspable. If you're resistant to accepting the fundamental differences, I'm afraid I can't help you "grasp the claim." Taking my "pick" for how to define ideology isn't an option -- the word already has a firm, accurate definition; that's the one I'm going with.

From my perspective, it's false and glib to insist that every aesthetic gesture is code for ideological beliefs. Do you detect ideology in the aesthetic efforts of a child? What kind of ideology can be found in, say, Lynch's Inland Empire? How does it signal beliefs about social classes, political ideals, or economic theory? Sure, you could strain and bulge the mind in an impotent effort to impose ideological beliefs that aren't truly there, but to what end? And for what purpose?

Artists and creatives indeed "employ aesthetics with desired effects in mind," but the struggle and challenge of the artist lies within their success or failure in doing so. It's not controversial to suggest that the only reason artists continue to pursue creative endeavors in because they continually try and fail to "employ aesthetics with desired effects in mind." This is the ideal, but the translation process is sticky and tricky and notched with failed attempts.

I fundamentally disagree that aesthetics "seek to obscure certain social realities." Contrariwise, the essence of aesthetic endeavors is to illuminate certain social realities, and the greatest works of art do so without dipping into the bland, fatheadedness associated with the bloviations of politics and the dogmatic small-mindedness of religion.

Two essential quotes from Nabokov come to mind:

(1) "A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual, and only the individual reader is important to me. I don't give a damn for the group, the community, the masses, and so forth....there can be no question that what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art."

(2) “I am bored by writers who join the social-comment racket....I also refuse to find merit in a novel just because it is by a brave Black in Africa or a brave White in Russia — or by any representative of any single group in America. Frankly, a national, folklore, class, masonic, religious, or any other communal aura involuntarily prejudices me against a novel, making it harder for me to peel the offered fruit so as to get at the nectar of possible talent.”

I didn't mean to write a diatribe, but it's just that I find the subject endlessly fascinating and of upmost importance. I'm pleased with the motivation in the initial post. I just feel like "ideology" is a broader, more focused word choice for the original post instead of "politics." All politics fall under the category of ideology, but not all ideologies stem from politics.
David Vinson You should read Eagleton regarding historical efforts to define “ideology.” You’re not disagreeing with me but rather with dozens of valuable cultural theorists of the 20th century. Maybe they’re all “glib” too. Probably!
Emilio Arnau Yeah, there's definitely different definitions of the term ideology—see Althusser. 'Whatever you believe to be true is part of your ideology' or without the "part of".
And regarding Inland Empire, there's mad ideology in it! I love that film.
It says loads about the experience of being a human being trying to make sense of this world.
Chris Karr Agreed! Adding to that: Inland Empire "says loads about the experience of being a human being trying to make sense of this world" without once dipping into the worlds of politics, religion, social justice, economic inequality, etc. Sure those elements are implicitly there, but far below the surface. So far below they don't merit commentary or consideration...unless you're a dusty academic determined to view elements that aren't there through a lens you don't need.
David Vinson The original question is a strange one. Isn’t there a politics to aesthetics? And aren’t the two entangled in genre anyway? For instance, French New Wave as a rejection of elitist period pieces, or perhaps Malick’s naturalism as backdrop to a commentary on the machinery of war...
Jim Taggart Movies are inherently visual creatures so that is the first responsibility of filmmakers. IMO.
Tim McEown All I know is that any film that values its politics over other considerations almost inevitably fails as a piece of art. It may succeed as a variant of propaganda, who knows, but it's definitely putting the cart before the horse.
Emilio Arnau make a poll out of this haha
Jack Clare lol, you could be right. it is getting very out of control.
Jack Clare people seem to be very passionate both ways, which is very interesting. this must be a big issue.

Emilio Arnau it seems that way.
so what's your opinion on this?
Walter J. Montie Aesthetics.
Susan Dillon Based on my continued viewing of Woody Allen's films, I'd say aesthetics.
Fiona Taylor Watching Woody Allen movies is definitely also political.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston I'm not sure too many people would argue that they continue to watch Woody Allen films because they favour the politics of them.
Emilio Arnau you don't need to favour them. ignoring or tolerating his film's politics and the politics around them is certainly a political statement.
Fiona Taylor Yes, that was my thought process.
David Baruffi Aesthetics.
George Chang Aesthetics; politics is garbage.
LikeShow more reactions
Patti Cassidy aesthetics. There's a saying in the theatre- "political theater is neither good politics, nor good theatre..." True enough.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros An ideal film is aesthetically well-crafted and at least NOT ideologically offensive. I’m very fond of the comedy, “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians are Coming.” Is it the most nuanced, sophisticated portrait of the Cold War? No. But it’s just a brilliant little unpretentious, incredibly funny, well-acted gem of a movie. It’s got a steamy romance, a gorgeous setting, Alan Arlin’s Russian accent (so authentic that I assumed he was a native Russian), and a cast of seasoned comedians. Its ending, while treacly to some, might be pedagogically useful in courses for future diplomats. It is one of those rare perfect movies that is both aesthetically top-notch and not ideologically heavy-handed. Just warm and uplifting. Even the most rabid McCarthyite would have to melt when the gruff Russian commander waves goodbye to the four year old Annie at the end.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros I’m also fond of “Do the Right Thing”: it’s aesthetically fresh, sexy, boldly provocative, while presenting the possibility of the two world views at the end. Politics and aesthetics are tightly bound. It’s also a film that begs to be discussed.
Dennis M Robles This is like saying do you like Asian or Mediterranean food better? It depends on the dish and what I am hungry for.
Houssam Attal Movie making is so wide spectrum. For me, it depends on the mood of the day, the company, and the last movie I've seen.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros But I can’t stand to watch any movie in which a woman is raped. That’s gender politics, and for me, it’s non- negotiable. I have seen “Blue Velvet” once. At the time I recognized that it was an aesthetically original film, but I hope never to see it again. It’s too profoundly disturbing to see Isabella Rossellini raped by the madman with his candy-colored clown. And I’m not sure I could stomach a film glorifying Dr. Mengele, no matter how high its production values.
Bjorn Arvidsson I couldn't agree more; rape I cannot watch. I remember trying to watch Irresistible, but had to stop.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros I also can’t watch scenes in which pregnant women are beaten up (ex. “The Godfather”) or in which men are raped (“The Shawshank Redemption”). There is no aesthetic compensation, in my mind, for scenes of cruelty. Intellectually, I can understand the thematic justification for such scenes, but I cannot bear to watch them. I take a long bathroom visit when such a scene is forthcoming.
Jack Clare i feel the same way about this. i don’t think movies, or art in general, should approach it’s audience with a cruel mindset. the best stuff acts generously towards it’s audience.
Jack Clare if it has to be justified intellectually, it should be in an essay. not a movie.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros Granted, if one is depicting a genocide, one should not sugarcoat the atrocities. One might even say that it is the screenwriter’s responsibility to depict them. But that does not obligate the viewer to watch the scene with voyeuristic interest. Yes, any cruelty should be justified, not gratuitous.
Jack Clare i see entertainment value, along with beauty, as being amongst the highest values in art
Jack Clare you shouldn’t have to take a survey course to enjoy a piece of art. it’s greatness should be evident.
Jack Clare w/r/t to gratuitous violence, i defend anyone’s right to make a movie like that, but, yeah, it doesn’t mean i’d watch it
Jack Clare give me one example of a filmmaker whose work is worth doing a degree before you can understand it?
Jack Clare to what?
Jack Clare i didn’t mean literally. i meant, is there any director whose work is worth such an effort, regardless of whether that effort would actually be required
Jack Clare i never said it was intellectual, that was in the original comment
Jack Clare i’m asking what you think. this isn’t a meta-analysis.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros I usually seek out accessible, entertaining films too. It depends on what sort of mood I’m in. In the right mood, I would watch a film that was ambiguous or intellectually challenging. I like to discuss such films with others until I feel I have an understanding of them. I wouldn’t be averse to taking a course on the films of, say, Ingmar Bergman, but it would be intellectual work, not relaxation. At the end of a long week, I’d much rather cuddle up to “Fading Gigolo” or some other accessible film.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros I take it this is a film about dance....? Dance competitions?
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros My mother is keen on dance films too: “Fame” and “Billy Eliot” (sp?) come to mind. There is also a great dance competition in “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Jack Clare i do think some artists have contempt for the audience. i don’t see how that’s a controversial idea.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros Interesting. Can you give an example of such an artist?
Jack Clare the most recent example that i can think of is rian johnson with the last jedi
Jack Clare a deflection of what?
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros I would imagine that it would be difficult to be commercially successful if one’s viewers felt that one had contempt for them.
Jack Clare not impossible though
Jack Clare i don’t take it personally, i think it’s an attitude that’ll limit what you’re able to do as an artist
Jack Clare that’s a cute way to phrase it
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros Not really. They may just be self-destructive at the box office. But the makers of “South Park” are probably doing just fine. My sons love them: we own at least one boxed set of “SP” episodes. In these politically troubled times, satire is a necessity.
Matthew David Wilder Any idiot who says “Both!” must be pistolwhipped in the face.
Eftihia Landrou Aesthetics
Scott Wallace My initial inclination is to say aesthetics. However, there are exceptions at the extremes. Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, for example.

Ellen Elizabeth Argyros My mother prioritizes politics. She also attends to the political stances of the actors.
Emilio Arnau That's some heavy duty, but good for her.
I have neither the willingness to invest that much time and effort in order to gather the necessary information nor the discipline to actually stick to whatever comes out.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros She is also quite pushy in trying to get others to watch her pet films, which backfires in my case. But I don’t mind films that are political in a non-heavy-handed way. A light touch works best with me.
Luis Fraga Lo Curto I hate films whose only purpose is to push forward for a particular ideology. So aesthetics.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros The words “politics” and “ideology” seem a bit ambiguous. I love Almodovar’s “All About My Mother,” but I don’t really consider it all that political. To me, it’s a film about a loving mother coping with her beloved son’s death. Cecilia Roth’s character, Manuela, cannot help crying every time her boy is mentioned, and no actress can touch her when it comes to authentic wailing. But for a homophobic young man from Wisconsin, this film might strike him as “political” simply because it evokes sympathy for transgender characters.
Emilio Arnau But isn't this normalising of desires and behaviour still political?
Granting transgender people the status of human beings and giving them room to exist.
Something can be political because of its impact and not its explicit intentions. (Although I would guess that Almodovar did have some revolutionary intentions in mind, but who am I to say.)
There was a time when all painting was about royalties, then some people started painting farmers and fishers and whatnot.
Ellen Elizabeth Argyros Yes, that’s just it: “something can be political because of its impact and not its explicit intentions.” The meaning of a text—is it political? Is it heavy-handed or subtle?—says as much about the viewer as the text. The first time I saw a film by Almodovar (“Talk to Her”), I was gobsmacked by the very casual way in which the menstrual cycle of a woman in a vegetative state was treated. It seemed revolutionary and even liberating to suggest that menstruation could now appear in a film—not with disgust but matter-of-factly, as a fact of life, which it is for most women of reproductive age. But now that I have seen this film many times, it feels less shocking to me and just well-crafted and deeply humane.
Susan Taylor aesthetics and honesty
Susan Taylor Yes to the first, I think, in a variety of ways. As for the second, I think if there is honesty politics goes away. So I'd rather have film be honest, not political.
Jack Clare i've read plenty of sci-fi that doesn't follow straight lines of logic - vonnegut, dick, zelazny, to name a few names. lord of light is probably one of the most ambigously written stories ever.
Jack Clare not even the sirens of titan?
Jack Clare or cat’s cradle?
Jack Clare the man in the high castle is structured around readings of the i-ching, which is about as non-straightforward a system as you can devise.
Bjorn Arvidsson I think Peter's point is that it is too often that way, but not that it has to be that way!
Jack Clare all the examples of sci-fi i can think of off the top of my head don't conform to this idea
Mark Schaffer Dick was out there..
Besar Dauti Without a doubt aesthetics as political movies tend to be ideological more often than not.
Besar Dauti I'm afraid that wasn't the question. To keep it short: Ideological as presenting a very one-sided view.
Tessa Johnson Aesthetics unless it's feeding my some fascist dogma.
LikeShow more reactions
· Reply ·


Popular posts from this blog

Old Youth

You write about how poverty breeds creativity. You think about how scavenging for wild food gives you the perfect opportunity to slow down, to really appreciate your surroundings. You talk about how frugality is more environmentally sustainable. You pontificate on why creating meals from scratch is cheaper, healthier and deeply satisfying. Then you run out of cooking oil.You love fat. As a child you ate margarine by the spoonful. You didn't know any better. Now you've moved on to more delicious pastures. As a cook you can never resist sneaking in that extra bit of butter, that tablespoonful of olive oil, that dab of bacon grease. You believe that cake is a vessel for frosting, that salad dressing should be two parts oil to one part vinegar, and that packaged low-fat foods are a symptom of the decline of Western civilization. Fat makes food taste good.Under the best of circumstances, you have eight or nine varieties of fat on hand. In ascending order of importance: chicken drip…

Superimposing another "fourth-wall" Deadpool

I'd like to superimpose the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool that I'd like to have seen in the movie. In my version, he'd break out of the action at some point to discuss with us the following:
1) He'd point out that all the trouble the movie goes to to ensure that the lead actress is never seen completely naked—no nipples shown—in this R-rated movie was done so that later when we suddenly see enough strippers' completely bared breasts that we feel that someone was making up for lost time, we feel that a special, strenuous effort has been made to keep her from a certain fate—one the R-rating would even seemed to have called for, necessitated, even, to properly feed the audience expecting something extra for the movie being more dependent on their ticket purchases. That is, protecting the lead actress was done to legitimize thinking of those left casually unprotected as different kinds of women—not as worthy, not as human.   

2) When Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are excha…

True Detective cont'd

Recently, Rachel Syme wrote this
As the dust settles on the “True Detective” finale, and the adventures of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart fade into the television firmament like the distant stars they found so meaningful, at least one thing is clear: it didn’t quite end the way we wanted it to. There is no doubt that the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and director, Cary Fukunaga, pulled off a midseason coup, giving us a show in the January doldrums that caused temporary mass insanity. Like one of Rust’s intoxicating philosophical koans about sentient meat, “True Detective” cast a kind of spell over its viewers, convincing them that no matter what it was they were watching it was at the very least something worth the hours of debating, clicking, parsing, and comment-section feuding. Moreover, the gorgeous cinematography depicting Louisiana in the gloaming, the delectable short-anthology format, and the movie-star bona fides made us believe that we were watching something novelistic, even approachi…