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Showing posts from January 10, 2016

car lots as battlefields, or fair versus market

There are various degrees of hell on earth. One of them, hell-lite, is surely going shopping for a used car. We got an in your face sample of that yesterday from a used car dealership in Inglewood, run on traditional lines: the sleazy boss, the oppressed, near retirement age salesman, the attempt to pump your expressed desire (we'd like a cheap vehicle, please) into their desire (and this nearly new SUV can be yours for 18,000 dollars, cutting the price 30 percent!). And now  for the part of the story that I'm not so comfortable with - as I know that those car lots are really parts of a popular culture of haggling that goes back to pre-capitalist days, and intellectually I find them interesting - but then we went to CarMax. Carmax is wonderful, I must say, for the simple reason that they sell cars as though they were commodities no different from aspirin or breakfast cereal, instead of horses being traded between nomadic tribes. So you go in, you say what you want, they show

entertainment and art - to be or not to be

Although it is usually the end of the eighteenth century that monopolizes the discussion of aesthetics in philosophy, it is a book from the beginning of the century – Shaftesbury’s Characteristicks of Men, etc. – that shaped the terms in which art was discussed by Enlightenment philosophes. In the same sense in which an allergen shapes a sneeze, it is also these terms that shaped the massive rejection under which we still live – that reaction we call modernism, romanticism, postmodernism, etc. Shaftesbury did not directly talk about entertainment and art, because the concepts and their hostility one to the other had not crystallized in his time. But he does give us some notion about what art was about. Or, rather, he constructs two points of view by which to look at it. From the first point of view, art is thoroughly social.  Shaftesbury writes of how the poet’s work is an “entertainment for himself and others.” The possibility that it could only be for himself is cast into doub

entertainment and art

It was in the late sixties, I think, that most American newspapers began hosting a “business” section. Of course, most of the readers of newspapers back then were laborers, but there was never a labor section. Now business sections are universal, and the last surviving labor unions are about to get a stake through their heart as the Supreme Court, that bastion of reaction, prongs them. Those Business sections were, literally, a sign of the Times. I am not sure when I first noticed that newspapers were putting their movie, book and music reviews in a section called Arts and Entertainment. It is now a pretty standard section heading. It begs the question, or at least I am going to beg the question, of what is meant by that conjunction. What is supposed to be the difference between art on the one side and entertainment on the other? In the seventeenth century, entertainment was a term that possessed a lot of semantic scope. It held onto its French roots in “tenir”, to hold, and mea


“… over in Detroit Bowie’s followers were like something out of Fellini’s Satyricon: full tilt pleasure seekers devoid of anything resemlbing shame, limits, caution and moral scruples. I distinctly remember a local lesbian bike gang riding their bikes into the foyer of the concert hall and revving them loudly just prior to Bowie’s arrival onstage. This had not been pre-arranged.. Meanwhile, the toilets were literally crammed with people either having sex or necking pills. The whole building was like some epic porn film brought to twitching life. “ – Nick Kent, Apathy for the devil The old guard, who were all in their early thirties when Bowie broke in the early seventies, hated him. Lester Bangs’s contempt for Bowie’s inauthenticity, as he saw it, was never surprised into reconsideration by anything Bowie ever did. Christgau, in a telling phrase, spoke of Bowie’s relationship to rock as “expedient”. In other words, there was always a distance, the distance of a man choosing. Bowie w