Friday, October 23, 2009

Short Lil' Ditty

In the spirit of coming down from my homework hurricane and moving past the crankiness that snuck onto this blog over the last few weeks (I'm sorry friends!), I'm just here this evening to post this soothing little track by Kings of Convenience. I shamelessly ripped it from an art compatriot's blog that I admire/stalk, shhh. Never heard of these Norwegian Indie musicians before, but they really hit the spot at this moment in my life, for three reasons.

1. I'm sitting in my mint-colored art history grad student lounge right at this very moment, and it is my very favorite little nook in GW; you seriously feel like you're in a nerdy VIP room in here. A Xerox machine you can copy stuff on for free! Art history books on every topic imaginable neatly lining the shelves! A TINY FRIDGE AND MICROWAVE! And behind me, perched on a filing cabinet, is the now-familiar bust of some unknown scholar. I have christened him Noah. Noah was lovingly given a fluorescent pink beanie to wear on his head by some mischievous student in years past, and he looks awful. But we let him keep wearing it because sometimes he gets cold and besides, I bet he's one of those crazy annoying philosophers whose writings have now officially made me cry, they're so hard to digest. So keep on regretting your headgear, Noah. We're not letting you go yet. I still love him a little bit, though. I feel like he and this room and this song are all friends now. This song definitely belongs here.

2. I was told I am ice cold earlier this week, and I think it's somehow fate that I came across a song titled "Mrs. Cold" only a day later. Somebody else please write and tell me that person was mistaken :)

3. I'm already brewing my next post, and the above Kings of Convenience album cover foreshadows its topic: Being an Explorer (can something still foreshadow something else if I make it explicit like that? Who knows.)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I finally understand sculptor Henry Moore!

(*UPDATE: I'm feeling a little bit sheepish now. Consider this post a vent session, which in no way reflects my actual ability to compose art historical writings. "My mom reads this, professor, I swear! It was a humorous sketch for HER alone!!! I'M SORRY I PROFANED THE NAME HENRY MOORE!")

Henry Moore was a prophet. He looked into the future, saw the convoluted mush of Lindsey C_______'s brain this midterm week, then returned to the 20th century with his new inspiration safely stowed away in his memory and chiseled it into marble and wood and stone! Quel genius!

Why no, I don't think it's narcissistic of me to discover in myself his inspiration. The man, this most famous of British Modernist sculptors, was an educator: a professor of art at the Royal College of Art in London (late 1920's-ish). Naturally, he will have had sympathy for and an affinity with students. Probably, he had to suffer through the same types of philosophical readings as I am in order for him to teach modern art correctly (hee hee hee... you all always suspected modern sculpture was just messing with your brain!! Truth be told, the philosophers messed with ours first, and that's how it all got started. Modern art can be seen as the history of intellectual dementia).

Sure, the other phD-toting art historians will tell you hum-drum stories called facts about Henry Moore. They'll tell you "he particularly admired the sculptures of ancient cultures, [and] believed in creating a visual language appropriate to the twentieth century." They'll assertively and persuasively inform you that he used his sculptures to explore and embody abstract concepts like "monumentality" and "surrealist biomorphism." Sure, those art historians might have primary, secondary, and visual sources to back up their claims. But I just feel instinctively that I am right about these jumbles of shapes mirroring the look and feel of my brain right now!!

Later in life, after WWII, Henry Moore switched to a more figurative (translation: more human looking) style. He even dwelt on the theme of family quite a bit (hooray!). This fact is quite in line with my thesis. Just as I will (hopefully) emerge from the devastation of this week's 11-hour-a-day hw sessions with a renewed desire to make myself more figurative and human-looking again, and just as I will redeem a beautiful ticket and go home to Utah and Vegas this weekend and see my family, so Henry Moore sculpted/prophesied my next week in the second half of his career (see later work at right for an example).

I state again, Henry Moore is a prophet. He knew and still knows where my mind is evolving, and put it into physical form. Genius. (Can you tell I'm a bit little cracked right now??)

I'd like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Valerie Fletcher, senior curator at the Hirshhorn, for allowing me to quote her thoughtful investigation* of this important 20th-century sculptor. And I'd also to like to remind you that my opinion is better and cooler :P I'd also like to put up a few other images that I think also accurately illustrate my mental state right now:

These images are courtesy of, Drew Shumway Should Really Stop Complaining So Much (my favorite facebook group that I don't actually belong to), and Google image search. The book I'm reviewing right now is currently trying to convince me that art historical writing is like a spiderweb: "a confusion of umbra and penumbra, a picture whose naturalism is inseparable from its internal coherence."** Hey. Author. YOU'RE a spidery confusion of coherence... trailing off.... mutter.... Ok I have to go back to work. Anyone else want to tell me what visual symbols their minds or hearts or other various appendages of import look like right now? Spencer I know might give me the picture of a blender for his brain, poor guy. Keep up the good work!

*Valerie J. Fletcher. "in depth: Henry Moore." Adapted from The Human Figure Interpreted: Modern Sculpture from the Hirshhorn Museum (1995). accessed 10/11/2009.

** James Elkins. Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts. Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park: PA. Pg. 225. This really is a good book, even if it's over my head. I emailed the author this week and asked him a question about it, which he responded to promptly and kindly! I felt like a kid who's just gotten a signature from Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

One more note and then I absolutely HAVE to get back to work [sound of my heels dragging goes HERE]. In my art history class at BYU where we actually had to DO all the different art styles that we would soon be evaluating (awesome class!), the teacher used Henry Moore for our sculpture assignment. We were given rough blocks of alabaster and told to make something out of them that looked organic, or biological. HOURS later, my hands were rough, raw, cracked, and bleeding, and my "sculpture" looked decidedly more like a piece of rock with several edges beveled off. I have a testimony that Henry Moore was the MAN and that this was hard work! The end.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Words I Don't Know, Part II.

It's busy homework season out here in DC/NOVA, I am SUPREMELY cranky today. Not just for homework's sake and the related disappearance of my free time; after an hour-and-a-half wait at this morning, I finally saw an insidious doctor who enjoyed poking my greenish-purplish ankle and asking me whether or not it hurt (could you REALLY not tell from the way I was writhing around?? QUIT POKING ME!), who then gave me the extremely irritating, completely useless, and entirely patronizing advice: "You should have come in when this first happened." Well, duh. Now get on with it, lady. I am currently waiting to hear back whether or not the retarded stumble I performed a couple of weeks ago is actually a fracture (please no please no please no...). Thus, I find myself a little on edge, and a lot out of things to write about. (*Update: NOT broken, THANK HEAVENS! Got a new doctor later in the afternoon, a nice doctor, who looked at it, said, "You've been walking on THAT for TWO weeks? And you're an art history major?? What, do you play rubgy on the side?" She set me up with a nice bulky brace to sport around for the next two weeks, just in time for Bre's wedding!)

So, I have been squirreling away a very special vocabulary for just such a wordless day. Back in February I published a list of words I ran across in my Hirshhorn readings that irritated the crap out of me, because they were so obviously included in their various essay-homes solely for the purpose of communicating to readers juuuuuust how brilliant their writers were. After that particular post, the words didn't stop coming, and I didn't stop noting them down, with vexation and occasional wonder at their odd spellings and contorted, completely unimaginable definitions.

Today I present Part II of my Abject Through Zeitgeist Journey to the Center of Multisyllabic Semantics. There's only 36 this time, and 11 of them are highlighted as spelling errors in wordcheck... but I left the definitions of all of them in this round, because no one should ever have to encounter these fastidious words unaided. Summer Lewis, you word-lover you (is there a "-phile" name for that?), go to town. :) Please note the upswing in percentage of Latin and philosophy words (Theodicy.... yeesh. I like that one, though. Cool meaning). I just can't get away from these maniacal writers, be it at the Smithsonian or in the middle of a graduate reading sesh. Apperception it is.

Adduce: Bring forward; cite as conclusive or pertinent
Alterity: A state of being other
Apodictic: Incontestable because it has been proved demonstrable
Apogee: highest or furthest point, or climax
Apperception: Conscious perception, the process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to past experience.
Cathexis: the investment of emotional significance in an activity, object, or idea (cezanne’s wife may have been his erotic cathexis, but he didn’t show it on canvas)
Demur: Make an objection
Demure: characterized by shyness or modesty; reticent; coyly decorous
Dialectic: of the nature of logical discussion
Embolism: the insertion of days, months, or years, in an account of time, to produce regularity; The occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus. Embolism in the brain often produces sudden unconsciousness and paralysis.
Ersatz: serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial
Exergue: A space on the reverse of a coin or medal, usually below the central design and often giving the date and place of engraving.
Fecundity- quality of being very fertile
Hermeneutic: pertaining to hermeneutics; interpretative; explanatory.
Idiom: an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements (kick the bucket); the peculiar character or genius of a language (Derrida's version); a distinct style or character in music or art (the idiom of Klee)
Incommensurable: having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.
Inimitable: matchless, incapable of being copied
Invagination: a taking within (eeeww... dirty old D. N. Rodowick writing about aesthetics and speech)
Jingoism: Bellicose chauvinism
Oedipal: of or characterized by the Oedipal complex, e.g. a love for one’s opposite-sex parent
Ontological: Studying the nature of existence. Ex: having the existence of the concept of God entail His veritable existence
Parergon: An accessory work performed in addition to one's principle work (e.g. painting frames, sculptural drapery)
Pellucid: allowing the maximum amount of light or clarity; clear in meaning, expression, or style
Picaresque: pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form of prose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in which the adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are described in a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that often depict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the common people
Populism: any of various, often anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.
Refractory: hard or impossible to manage; stubbornly disobedient
Reification: to convert into or regard as a concrete thing.
Repugnant: distasteful, offensive, contrary or opposed in nature
Scion: a descendant; a shoot, twig, or cutting
Subsume: to consider something as part of a more comprehensive whole
Tautological: needless repetition of an idea ("widow woman")
Teleological: pertaining to the doctrine that forces move towards self-realization; the evidence of design.
Telos: the end term of a goal-directed process; esp., the Aristotelian final cause.
Tendentious: having or showing a definite tendency, bias, or purpose
Theodicy: A vindication of God's goodness in the face of the existence of evil
Topos: a convention or motif, esp. in a literary work; a rhetorical convention.