Notes from my old Modern Art and Pop Culture Class. Good stuff for the final issue of the Giermo series.
Are you a Noble, Priest or Herd Member? Like the Ten Worlds in Buddhism, I think we all fit into these archetypes as our moods and situations change throughout the day.
I don’t have all the info. My external hard drive ate most of my notes from this class. All I remember is the classifications my teacher made: Businessmen are Nobles/Prey animals and Artists are “Priests” for we create for the benefit of society ( supposedly). I think the latter refers to fine artists not commercial artists, and the Herd is the common everyday masses who (that?) is content to be lead.
The transformation to a system of good and evil was, in Nietzsche’s mind, a “slave revolt.” It “begins when ressentiment itself becomes creative and gives birth to values. . . slave morality from the outset says No to what is “outside,” what is “different,” what is “not itself;” and this No is its creative deed.” (#10) Nietzsche calls this an “inversion of the value-positing eye;” what it achieves is removal of tension from one’s own attainments to an outward point of view and judgment. Rather than action, what we have is reaction. Value is placed in how we react (turning the other cheek) rather than how we act (as in doing something noble and exemplary). The noble is viewed with jealousy and hatred and eventually is reified as “the evil one.” Thus, the value-system of ressentiment sets forth “creatively” by defining evil and, then, with self-satisfaction, resolving goodness in one’s own (easy) humility. This is a system that tries to level everything rather than promote greatness; hence, the one who strives to reach beyond is always under suspicion, the evil one.
–The Geneology of Morals
Excerpt courtesy of Tad Beckman’s essay copyright 1995
In honor of the priestly type.— I rather think that it is precisely from what the common people [Volk] take for wisdom (and who today is not “common people”?—), this clever, bovine piety, peace of mind, and meekness of country pastors that lies in the meadow and observes life seriously while ruminating—that the philosophers have always felt most remote, probably because they were not sufficiently “common people” or country pastors for that. It is likely that they of all people will be the last to learn to believe that the common people couldpossibly understand anything of what is most remote from them, the great passion of the seeker after knowledge who lives and must live continually in the thundercloud of the highest problems and the heaviest responsibilities (by no means as an observer, outside, indifferent, secure, and objective …). The common people revere an altogether different human type when they construct their ideal of “the sage,” and they are amply entitled to lavish the best words and honors on this type: namely, the mild, serious and simple-minded, chaste priestly type and what is related to it. When the common people stand in awe of wisdom, their praise is intended for this type. And to whom would the common people have more reason to show gratitude than these men who belong to them and come from among them but as men who are consecrated, selected, and sacrificed for the welfare of the common people—they themselves believe that they are being sacrificed to God. It is to these men that the common people can spill their hearts with impunity, to them one can get rid of one’s secrets, worries, and worse matters (—for as a human being “communicates himself” he gets rid of himself; and when one “has confessed” one forgets). It is a deep need that commands this: for the filth of the soul also requires sewers with pure and purifying waters in them, it requires rapid streams of love and strong, humble, pure hearts who are willing to perform such a service of non-public hygiene, sacrificing themselves—for this is a sacrifice, and a priest is and remains a human sacrifice … The common people attribute wisdom to such serious men of “faith” who have become quiet, meaning that they have acquired knowledge and are “certain” compared to one’s own uncertainty: who would want to deny them this word and this reverence?— But, it is also fair, conversely, when philosophers consider priests as still “common people” and not men of knowledge, above all, because they simply do not believe in any “men of knowledge” and in this belief, or rather superstition, they smell the “common people.” It was modesty that invented the word “philosopher” in Greece and left the magnificent overweening presumption in calling oneself wise to the actors of the spirit—the modesty of such monsters of pride and sovereignty as Pythagoras, as Plato—.
-The Gay Science
Herd instinct.— Wherever we encounter a morality, we also encounter valuations and an order of rank of human impulses and actions. These valuations and orders of rank are always expressions of the needs of a community and herd: whatever benefits it most—and secondmost, and thirdmost—that is also considered the first standard for the value of all individuals. Morality trains the individual to be a function of the herd and to ascribe value to himself only as a function. The conditions for the preservation of different communities were very different; hence there were very different moralities. Considering essential changes in the forms of future herds and communities, states and societies, we can prophesy that there will yet be very divergent moralities. Morality is herd instinct in the individual.
-The Gay Science
Modern Art and Pop Culture Themes
a brief review of the art of the 19th century and the avant-garde, this course will focus on the artistic movements, styles and world of ideas of the 20th Century. Various philosophies, social movements, and artists will be considered, while exploring what constitutes modernism, art, and culture.
1. The Seven Year Itch – Billy Wilder – The valorization of Eros and the disruptive power of sex
2. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola – Concatenation of life and death, ritual sacrifice
3. Some Like it Hot – Billy Wilder – Bisexuality and transvestism as release
4. Pink Flamingos – John Waters – Celebrating the grotesque, excessive body and the orifices and protuberances of the lower bodily stratum
5. Black Like Me – Carl Lerner – The foregrounding of social overturning
6. Being There – Hal Ashby – Crowning and uncrowning implying the permanence of change as the source of hope
7. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock – gay relativity and Janus-faced ambiguity
8. Woodstock – Michael Wadleigh – Oceanic feeelings of union with the community
9. The Wizard of Oz – King Vidor and Victor Flemming – The space of the sacred and time in parentheses
10. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut – Trey Parker – Valorization of the obscene
11. Animal House – John Landis – The rejection of social decorum
12. Plan 9 from Outer Space – Ed Wood – Anti-classical aesthetic emphasizing asymmetry, heterogeneity, the oxymoronic and mésalliance
13. Rocky Horror Picture Show – Jim Sharman – A participatory spectacle which erases the boundaries between spectator and performer
1. The War of the Roses – The valorization of Eros and the disruptive power of sex
2. Schindler’s List – Concatenation of life and death, ritual sacrifice
3. The Crying Game – Bisexuality and transvestism as release, i.e. gender identity
4. Trance – Celebrating the grotesque, excessive body and the orifices and protuberances of the lower bodily stratum
5. Mississipi Burning – The foregrounding of social overturning
6. Being John Malkovich – Crowning and uncrowning implying the permanence of change as the source of hope
7. Puck and Co. – gay relativity and Janus-faced ambiguity
8. Matchstick Men – Oceanic feeelings of union with the community
9. Alice in Wonderland – The space of the sacred and time in parentheses
10. Dogma – Valorization of the obscene
11. American Virgin – The rejection of social decorum
12. Carnival – Anti-classical aesthetic emphasizing asymmetry, heterogeneity, the oxymoronic and mésalliance
13. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – A participatory spectacle which erases the boundaries between spectator and performer and performers.
The late great John Updike said something interesting about artists:
An artist of any sort in our society and most others , is a privileged person allowed to stand apart from some of the daily grind, and supposed to be closer to the gods and to have access to the divine sources of tribal well being …..what is quite a responsibility.
(Out of context )Modernist feel God being either dead or asleep, that the writer has inherited what once was the priests function. To do anything well you have to believe in it.
–Fresh Air on NPR