the questions leads 2

I was going to write something about this

and about only last night having seen Skyfall, the Heineken® Bond movie. Obviously, directed by Ninja, Terence Neale and Saki Fokken Bergh, “Fatty Boom Boom” has more directors. Skyfall only has – named – Sam Mendes, and he does a terrible job. There are enough pauses in the dialogue to make another movie. It is a kind of verbal colander. I wondered if every sententious pause was there 1) as a chiaroscuro to the narrative, in the hope it might achieve the relief of real depth 2) to be arch and give the impression of a clever double entendre or to signal ambiguity. Because the film makes ambiguity a principle of its composition. However it is not the sort of ambiguity that leads you to ask, Is this the case? or rather is it…? There is no question raised by the ambiguity of Skyfall: every step is so ponderous and overdetermined and yet unmotivated by either the narrative requirements of the action genre or by what I hesitate to call the psychology of the characters. The ambiguity does not open but closes down the option of thought. It is strictly unnecessary.

I was therefore going to write something about artistic necessity. In order to stand on its own something must be there which it is necessary to say. It is necessary here and now to say it. The artist feels the need and responds, some would say, quite uselessly.

Some would say it is the particularity of that something which eludes value or having value placed on it. The uselessness of art would then be a gloss on how what is necessary is also elusive, escaping the claims to which those interested – in its use, value or both – try to hold it.

In this light, I would have been writing about Lisa Densem’s dance work, We Have Been There (Cloud in Hand), which it struck me days after seeing it has a lot in common with butoh. I don’t know why I didn’t notice before. Perhaps I was not paying attention. I did pay attention to the work’s reception, here and now, and I thought, The friendly reception of art kills critical thought; it anaesthetises to what is essential: which might just be that which makes the work necessary. And: When art has friends like these, who needs detractors?

I felt similarly about how Barnie Duncan’s … Him – although neither brilliant nor dire and so not provoking extreme reaction – drowned in its warm reception: its particularity dissolved, like a biscuit in tea. But but there is something that needs to be said about how this kind of necessity is connected with what was a theme in this square white world some years ago: the question of why the director is necessary. Because … Him was let down by its director, almost as if the only response, right from the first day devising and rehearsing, which the finished show could be conceived of as eliciting was this absence of reaction, of delight or outrage, this friendly and cowed, somehow fearful, lukewarm, reassuring, congratulatory and self-congratulatory (because we pulled it off!), wet-soggy, patronising pattercake of bloodless and ill-defined consensual conciliatory and pacific palliation.

I would prefer to be outraged but is outrage really possible among friends who know each other so so well? Is delight? Is passion?

An outsider seems to be necessary as much as a need, a distance that truly finally tyrannises.

And with these thoughts still half-formed I sat down at my keyboard which through its screen now opens out onto a world of distraction and found Konstantin Bessmertny, whose Russian name means deathless.

– Konstantin Bessmertny, 1881

And I saw that it was good.Then I visited his domain [here] and read:

“To ask the general public’s opinion on the subject of art is like asking children what they would like to eat. In both cases it would be junk food.”


“Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising’.”

Jef I. Richards

“Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.”

Jean Cocteau

“Tradition is keeping the fire going and not worshipping the ashes”

Gustav Mahler

And these things were good to read.


Which also seemed to make a lot of sense, particularly with regard to the friends of art.