A Parabasic Prosopopeia

 “Whereas art opposes society, it is nevertheless unable to take up a position beyond it; it achieves opposition only through identification with that against which it remonstrates.” –Theodor  Adorno


Art, arbeit and amour again. The prosopopeic artist plus metaphoric suit and nude as work and love respectively. Going deeper; the suit is society’s restrictive, arbitrary uniform and the nakedness is as much lust as intimacy as whatever else love could be.

The sunset’s natural yet uncanny colors illuminates the lines. The painting in a ‘painting’ is in a 1950-ish ‘abstract expressionist’ style. And I think, that with the spatters and the sprayer I cover most sub-schools of the genre.

There are no lines on the canvas, the painting in the ‘painting.’ it’s the artist’s parabasistic, perhaps futile attempt to abstract expression from description. The lines are the meaning here; lines, like letters therefore words therefore metaphors, bring us back to the nonverbal, therefore felt but not thought, connections we all have to others, good or bad, achieved or not.

An irony: the painting, as process, is shown as being from life –figurative, but the painting, as product is abstract, non-figurative. Another irony is that though it shown as being from life it is not. this scene is a fantasy; separate memories of  sunsets, suits, nudes, easels and canvases cobbled together ‘here’ (The artist, off stage, taps the side of his head.)


This drawing is showing just what both the impressionists and symbolists did to separate themselves from the from the academics in the late 1800s. Funny now in a 21st century Po-Mo world, that both the19th century academics (figurative idealists) and the 20th century abstract expressionists (equally academic, but non-figurative) are ironic to each other.

While neither were too hot on the real; the former favored the ‘ideal,’ the latter favored the ‘abstract.’ And the former saw, in paradisiacal terms, color –emotional expression–  as the root of sin and line –rational description– as redemption. The latter using post-WWII terms felt the opposite. What’s not ironic is that they both sought to and for a time ruled the art world with iron fists.

Are we beyond all that, where one ‘school’ could dominate the art world? Will the ‘free’ market with its making of art as celebrity, commodity and investment be so fragmented that any one style of art, any one philosophical point of view made manifest can’t be on top for more than Warhol’s famous15 minutes?

 “To a discerning eye; Much sense the starkest madness.” –Emily Dickinson


  • Legally the insane are out of touch, unable to discern right and wrong and medically the mentally ill suffer dis-ease. The artist certainly can be out of touch and suffering, but neither are required to make art, whatever that is. So I will the word ‘crazy’ as it is not a legal definition  or a medical term. it neither confirms  nor denies unhappiness but everybody knows what it means.
  • Can two mind states the artistic and the crazy set up housekeeping in the same person? Must they? Lots of verbiage is out there for and against each question.
  • Is art the process that always is, to some degree, a means of self analysis? Does art (the process) create art (the product) which being an observable object can be a diagnosis? And can art (the process) be therapeutic?
  • Art can be a career, as you can go through the motions of being an artist simply for the society’s rewards for them. Along with that you can, when young, do art as self analysis and later –before or after you die– get the wealth/fame thing; that is called ‘being discovered.’ Or you can, late in life, cease to reap –voluntarily or not– society’s rewards; that they call being ‘retired.’
  • Art can be a passion too, like lust (as I remember) or love (so they say.)
  • So does society define the artist as a sub set of  crazy or the crazy as a sub set of artist or do the two classes occasionally –or substantially– overlap? Society these days is becoming increasingly fragmented and hierarchical. The simple village is no more. One can be thought of simultaneously, or over time, as a superstar in one society, as a village idiot in another and even a criminal in a third.
  • All art requires an object or event that stands outside of its creator and its observer. An object/event without both is not art. The same person can be a creator or an observer at different times. An object/event can become and cease to be art over time as well.
  • ‘Good’ art is the above mentioned object/event valued as art by an official art expert ‘Now.’ Certainly being liked by everybody all the time is not a requirement. An art object/event can become and cease to be ‘Good’ over time as well, too.
  • Art, whether it consider good or not, requires passion, either in the creating or observing the thing. But not all things evoking passion are art, neither sunsets nor relationships are art.