Author: Michael Corris  
Posted: 01.11.2002; 17:49:56
Topic: Question 7
Msg #: 590 (in response to 430)
Prev/Next: 589/591
Reads: 70576

Mr. Pilkingtonís response 7/10 is spectacularly uninformed and rude. It is, unfortunately, par for the course, so I wish he would not feel the need for the utterly disingenous framing of his remarks as "unplayful." (Goodness, might that be an indexical proposition directed at my responses?) Over the years, Iíve known of nothing but unplayful (i.e. deadly serious and portentious) responses from Mr. Pilkington. I have grown a thick skin of late. In the past, I would have been inclined to ignore Mr. Pilkington. Today, I would rather not, despite the fact that Mr. Pilkington has yet to overcome his idee fixe directed at the flesh pit that was Art & Language in New York from 1972-1976. His current statement seems to suspend that particulary pathology just long enough to generate a credible insight or two. But not much more, I am afraid.

I dare to make the (apparently ludicrous) claim that art practice may, in certain circumstances, by certain design, impinge on "institutional hegemonies." I make no other claim, although Mr. Pilkington always assumes that one is speaking of "outcomes." To desire an "effect", to wish to be "effective" was, to Mr. Pilkingtonís and Mr. Baldwinís mind, the great crime of some members of Art & Language in New York during the 1970s. These people have names and histories. They are: Ian Burn, Mel Ramsden to some extent (although he would be hard-pressed to admit as much now), Andrew Menard, Preston Heller, Carole Conde, Karl Beveridge, possibly Nigel Lendon, certainly Terry Smith in certain venues, Jill Breakstone (who???? Just another casualty) and of course, myself. Mea culpa. That was then, this is now. In fact, Mr. Pilkington knows nothing about my current thinking, except that I continue to commit the crime of acknowledging the existence of ó Shock! Horror! ó other artists.

I do not state, believe, or claim, that aesthetic practices (whatever they may be: Mr. Pilkington doesnít say) should be subject to discipline. Is he suggesting that what constitutes Art & Languageís current work is precisely framed by that term? As for my theory of meaning, I donít hold a mechanistic view at all. As one of his colleagues was fond of noting, in defense of his non-standard reference to difficult and important work in philosophy, pragmatics of natural language, etc., one need not justify the pursuit of higher mathematics. I agree. But this is a leaky argument, because you canít control what the "semi-" in semi-autonomous (as: art is a semi-autonomous practice) will or can mean.

I canít see how all this is in the ether. Thatís just a cheap shot. Why donít you come out and say it Mr. Pilkington? "Mr. Corris is an idealist, not a materialist."

As for the analogy (hardly: metaphor, although weíve all read Davidson on how metaphors mean . . .) between A&L practice as malingering, well, I think it holds.

Mr. Pilkington accuses the annotations as having a stable, preconceived relationship to anyoneís practice. Well, thatís a distortion: they emerged from our practice (A&L NY). That they might pose some interesting problems to othersí practice was on our mind. The recursive Grail of the UK indexes is something I shall have to take Mr. Pilkingtonís word for. Very few of us, I am afraid, were clever enough to figure out the "system" (please donít take that too literally) and actually come to some understanding about the vaunted "instability" of the relations of practice. The statement that such practices were indeed fluid (flux-like, perhaps?) is noble. Is Mr. Pilkington saying that A&L NY practices were not, could not be, would never be, had never been, etc.? Compared to whom or what?

Yes, Mr. Pilkington, my remarks suffer from compression. To say that we were not involved with the NY artworld is perhaps an exaggeration from where you sat (and still sit). All I can say is that we were not alone. Acknowledging a set of practices is not the same as subscribing to them. Where would you have sold The Fox? Oh, excuse me, you would never have conceived of such an ill-informed project to begin with.

Hegel said the real is rational, the rational is real. Or something like that (I am sure Mr. Pilkington can supply the precise quote, in the original German. I apologise in advance for being vulgar). Hegel was no adolescent, was he?

I do like the phrase "competences within limits of absurdity." I understand what it means for A&L. Like all recent depictions of A&L, it is meant to make us all look like mugs. Or is that Mr. Muggs? Michael Corris (


Last update: Saturday, November 2, 2002 at 7:41:28 PM.