Wednesday, September 14, 2011

OH. The Forthcoming.

Tonight I managed to finish a section of Part IV.2 of Art, Zen, And Insurrection, the large scale writing project I began around this time last year. I haven't really been able to write any of it since May. So it felt good to be able to produce a number of pages.

I've been revising the outline in the last few weeks. Looking at it. Wondering about my reading. Thinking about what kinds of questions I am capable of asking at this point.

Part IV was supposed to address the relationship between art, culture, politics, and this idea of the aesthetic existence (what the entire project was attempting to elaborate). Part IV is thus called 'Art, Culture, And The Politics Of The Aesthetic Existence'.

Part IV.1, which I completed in April, was just called 'War and Politics' and was my attempt to ascertain the relationship between politics and war, obvi.

Part IV.2, which I am currently working on, is called 'Art, Culture, And Politics'. In it I'm trying to get closer to understanding the way that art fits into a larger socio-political-economic situation. I want to understand the relationship between art, culture, and politics. And implicit in their is the idea that politics and economy go hand in hand. Because the economic analysis of art and amusement has become a big part of it all.

The first section of Part IV.2, which I finished tonight, is called 'Art, Amusement, And The Corruption of Consciousness: Collingwood On Distraction In Western Culture And Politics'. The key concept I am working with is Collingwood's notion of 'the corruption of consciousness', in which consciousness “permits itself to be bribed or corrupted in the discharge of its function [of gaining knowledge of it self], being distracted from a formidable task towards an easier one.” In other words, a corrupt consciousness is one that is unable to understand itself because it is too distracted, whether it be by fear, amusement, or something else. But Collingwood identifies amusement as one of the major things that contributes to the corruption of consciousness.

I find this concept valuable because of the way it ties together a variety of social factors to explain the state of individual minds. This is what I wrote tonight to summarize the section:

Collingwood’s notion of the corruption of consciousness therefore serves as a great starting point for analyzing the relationship between art, culture, and politics. In it I see a way to understand how larger social processes, like politics or economics, influence culture, and in turn, effect individual minds. Collingwood argues that our economic system has given us monotonous work that offers us no obligations to our nation or community. As a result, we experience a sense of emptiness in our daily routines and means to subsistence. Collingwood claims that the nature of our work has transformed us into a culture that is addicted to amusement. He claims that our stance towards amusement has turned us into a society full of corrupt consciousnesses, and that the only cure is a return to art proper, to art as an expressive process. This is a sloppy explication. I don’t think I did this very clearly. But all that matters is that Collingwood’s concept of the corruption of consciousness is loaded with implications about the relationship between politics, economics, culture, and art.

I agree with the Riley of 1 hour ago. I don't think my writing on the corruption of consciousness is super clear. It is an idea of Collingwood's that I haven't dealt with adequately.

But my writing of the last few days has been valuable in that I have determined that the corruption of consciousness is indeed a complex concept that brings together a variety of institutions and ideas into one identifiable problem. It helps me understand how macro forces shed light on the problem of individual minds.

The next section is going to try and use my more recent reading to understand the value of a concept like the corruption of consciousness for understand contemporary American culture. In particular, I'll be drawing on Sheldon Wolin's work in Democracy Incorporated. The next section, Part IV.2.5 is thus titled 'The Corporate State And The Corruption Of Consciousness: Art and Amusement in American Culture'

I'm excited to be working again.

I'm not happy with my writing.

It really isn't very clear.

But I'm working hard on thinking!

I'm thinking so much harder!

I got exhausted thinking about the philosophy of history a few months ago.

Now it feels good to be thinking again about the relationships between art, culture, universities, economics, politics, etc..

Onward.

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