grossman330Vinside

Three Texts by Allen Grossman

By (UCI)

These three texts are a small part of a significant body of unpublished and uncollected work by the poet and critic Allen Grossman.

MLK_Funeral_Cart

Eulogy for Martin Luther King Jr.

The death of Martin Luther King leaves, in my imagination, no liberal position. Only a radical critique of learning and, if that is still worthwhile, of political life, is sufficient.

Pergamon-Altar_-_Moira_Giganten_2

An Introductory Lecture in The Humanities

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Iliad does not believe in you, the Aeneid does not regard you as real, the Divine Comedy does not understand you — and yet each demands of you that you believe in it, understand it, and regard it as real.

T102-Wrecked-Schooner-Empress1

The Scene of Instruction

“Where is it?” “In this mist.”

trump-in-hard-hat

“I believe Trump like I believed Obama!”
A case study of two working-class “Latino” Trump voters: my parents

By (University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu)

It might be a huge stretch for some anti-racists to view Trump voters as something other than “deplorables,” or, rich, white, racists—but, the hope with this case study is that we might stop and reflect on who gains when we write off not just half the country but a large portion of the working class as racists.

BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 28:  Presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during  the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate at University of Colorados Coors Events Center October 28, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado.  Fourteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the third set of Republican presidential debates.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Listening to Trump

By (New York University)

Contrary to how he was portrayed in the mainstream media Trump did not talk only of walls, immigration bans, and deportations. In fact he usually didn’t spend much time on those themes. Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a racist, misogynist, and confessed sexual predator who has legitimized dangerous street-level hate and his administration will almost certainly be a terrible new low in the evolution of American authoritarianism. But the heart of his message was something different, an ersatz economic populism that spoke directly, clearly and emotionally to legitimate working class concerns.

guy-davenport-warhol-through-the-metaphysical-barrier

Anscombe and Winogrand, Danto and Mapplethorpe:
A Reply to Dominic McIver Lopes

The Anscombian response to this worry is that it’s a mistake to break the act down into component parts, a mistake to think of the intention as something that’s outside of the physical act, either as its cause or as a mental state existing either prior to or alongside it. That’s why she says your hug isn’t given its meaning by the words “you silly little twit” “occur[ring]” to you while you embrace your old acquaintance, they have to be “seriously meant.” And you could mean the hug to be ironic even if you were thinking only affectionate thoughts at the time you administered it, or thinking nothing at all. The correct answer to the question, “why did you hug him?” would still be, to show my contempt.

henri-cartier-bresson

Making, Meaning, and Meaning by Making

By (University of British Columbia)

Combine a deflationary theory of photographic agency with a richly intentionalist approach to understanding what photographers mean by making photographs. We are now equipped to make sense of Winogrand’s practice of discovery. The photographer takes a picture of a beggar on the street, not intending that the scene look precisely so. Its looking precisely so is his discovery—it goes to his credit, not the camera’s. At the same time, by making the photograph, he means to tell us something about the beggar and how we should see him. Maybe he also means to tell us something about being a photographer, who means by making, even as what he makes is not just what he means.

freee-state-jones

Class War in the Confederacy:
Why Free State of Jones Matters

By (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Free State of Jones reminds us of this core truth of class with respect to labor, whether paid or unpaid—the shared material conditions and shared interests of those who are compelled by force or necessity to work.

alternet

How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence

By (University of Pennsylvania)

My point is not in any way to make light of the gravity of the injustice or to diminish outrage about police violence….However, noting a decline—or substantial change in either direction for that matter—in the rate of police killings does underscore the inadequacy of reified, transhistorical abstractions like “racism” or “white supremacy” for making sense of the nature and sources of police abuse of black Americans. Racism and white supremacy don’t really explain how anything happens. They’re at best shorthand characterizations of more complex, or at least discrete, actions taken by people in social contexts; at worst, and, alas, more often in our political moment, they’re invoked as alternatives to explanation

brazil-protest-coup

Class Struggle in Brazil:
Who Will Defend the Working Class?

By (Indiana University) and (State University of Ceara - UECE)

The political farce perpetrated against the Brazilian people on Sunday, April 17, when the country’s national congress approved the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is a critical moment in an ongoing class war against the left, labor and the poor. Instead of an exercise in democratic political sovereignty, as the center-right coalition would prefer the rest of the world believe, the congressional vote is a de-facto political coup.

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The Climate Movement Needs to Get Radical, but What Does that Mean?
A Delayed Review of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein

By (Evergreen State College)

The view that capitalism is a style of thinking, progress is a myth, and political contestation is irrelevant to “true” social change belongs not just to this one book but to all the commentators who found nothing to criticize. That’s the real problem.

Robert Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Density of Decision:
Greenberg with Robert Adams

By (Johns Hopkins University)

This is to say that the strictly documentary character of Adams’s work, which by and large claimed viewers’ attention at the time of New Topographics, has somewhat receded in importance. And it is also to suggest that the theoretical issue of the non-representational nature of the photograph as well as of the problematic status of the photographer’s inten­tions owing to the photograph’s indexicality…turns out to be not quite relevant to the present case. Or rather, more precisely, it is as if the “weak intention­ality” of the pho­to­graph…turns out to throw into relief the extra­ord­inary strength and efficacy of Adams’s esthetic perfection­ism…with respect to the appear­ance of the final print, the esthetic artifact as such.

Winogrand, Street Beggar Reaching out to Receive a Donation, 1968

“I Do What Happens”:
Anscombe and Winogrand

So there is a sense in which Winogrand’s personal crisis expresses a theoretical position, just as there’s an equally important sense in which that theoretical position and the alternatives to it (what it might mean to intend something, and especially what it might mean not to or what it might mean for your reasons to be treated as causes) were becoming at the time of that crisis central to literary theory and aesthetic production. Indeed, in what is now an aesthetic and a political as much as a philosophical sense, the structure of intentional action has recently emerged as a crucial issue.

dans-le-obscurite

Minds in the Dark:
Cinematic Experience in the Dardenne Brothers’ Dans l’Obscurité

By (University of Chicago)

I do not mean here to refer to the issue familiar in philosophy since Plato, the way the psyche can be shaped in very different ways by the education it receives and by the context of some particular regime. Democratic souls for democracies; oligarchic souls for oligarchies. Plato and many others keep the soul’s structure constant in such accounts, concentrating on the effects of the formation process on that structure. I think something much more radical is implicitly suggested by these films—that what counts as such a structure is at issue and open to real variation. This is particularly true of the psychological structure assumed in “explaining actions” or “assigning or accepting responsibility.” How we have come to think of that issue, the range of possible answers, may, if the brothers are right, have more to do with the imperatives of a particular social organization of power than it would be comfortable to admit.

Jeff Wall, Eviction Struggle (1988)

What We Worry About When We Worry About Commodification:
Reflections on Dave Beech, Julian Stallabrass, and Jeff Wall

In an advertisement, the only intention that matters is to sell a product. All manner of decisions can and do saturate an advertising image, but these are subordinate to the purpose (Zweck) of selling the product. In a successful work of art, all kinds of decisions are subordinate to a larger intention as well; but that intention is analytically identical with the meaning (Zweckmäßigkeit) of the work, so it makes sense to speak of the work as a whole as saturated with intention. As we saw, art-commodities may well bear the marks of industrial processes. A work of art may, on the other hand, choose to exhibit them, which is a different matter altogether. We can tell the difference between bearing marks and exhibiting marks because works of art tell us how to tell the difference, each time.

Encountering “September Sky”

By (Johns Hopkins University)

Nonsite is pleased to announce the publication of Promesse du Bonheur, a collection of new poems by Michael Fried accompanied by more than thirty photographs by James Welling. The book is appearing under the double aegis of nonsite.org and David Zwirner Books, and is available through David Zwirner Books and Amazon. To mark its publication, we offer an essay by Fried analyzing one of the poems in the collection, “September Sky,” along with an abstract photograph by Welling which serves, in the book, as an introduction to the collection.

Two Collage Ballads

I buy a few months. I try to behave.

Tomorrowman

Everyone will get one.

Tomorrow. They are tomorrow’s apples,
And they are sweet.

from Melancholy Occurrence

Drawn from coroner’s inquests and newspaper reports from England between the 1770 and 1920 — very much in the spirit of Charles Reznikoff, nothing invented.

Kandinsky: Tactical, Operational, Strategic

By (Trinity University)

Imagine two surfaces: one, a flat stretch of canvas secured to a physical support; the other, a picture plane. What’s the difference? The canvas is an actual piece of fabric upon which a painter will apply physical material with brushes, rags, and trowels to render an image, whether abstract or representational. The picture plane is an immaterial and intangible screen of pictorial projection. The image that sustains the virtual reality of the depiction is neither identical to nor reducible to the pigment and canvas that literally constitute its configuration.

Mazzocchi and the Moment

By (University of Pennsylvania)

The most immediate challenge we face now is to prepare for what is going to be the political equivalent of a street fight that we’ll have to wage between now and at least 2018 just to preserve space for getting onto the offensive against the horrors likely to come at us from Trump, the Republican congress, and random Brown Shirt elements Trump’s victory has emboldened. At the same time, however, we need to reflect on the extent to which progressive practice has absorbed the ideological premises of left-neoliberalism.

Splendors and Miseries of the Antiracist “Left”

By (University of Pennsylvania)

Proliferation of this Kabuki theater politics among leftists stems in part from the dialectic of desperation and wishful thinking that underlies the cargo-cult tendency; it is commonly driven by an understandable sense of urgency that the dangers facing us are so grave as to require some immediate action in response. That dialectic encourages immediatist fantasies as well as tendencies to define the direct goal of political action as exposing, or bearing witness against, injustice.

A Note from “His Collaborator”

The trivial truth is that what they mean by challenging the operation of capitalist markets (i.e. massive downward redistribution) would indeed reduce racialized poverty, for the obvious reason that (as Adolph and I and millions of others keep on tiresomely repeating) precisely because black people are disproportionately poor all efforts of redistribution will disproportionately benefit them. The totally false idea is that a challenge to racial disparities gets you out from under what Reed calls “neoliberalism’s logic.” In fact, unlocking inherited inequality (racialized or not) and achieving real equality of opportunity (hence more upward mobility) is left neoliberalism’s wet dream.

The Significance of Form

By (University of St Andrews)

Formalism assumes that the features being picked out are part of a “best possible” construction of what was done when the work was created. In this way formalism can work equally well for those who see intention as equivalent to meaning and those who see intention as a naïve and unworkable construct. In the latter case it is able at once to attribute significance through the quasi-intentionalist mode of writing described here, and to pass in everyday description as “anti-intentionalist,” as writers from Wölfflin and Shklovsky to Clement Greenberg have combined this general way of operating with explicit denials of the admissibility of artists’ actual, consciously made, statements about their own work.

A New Limerick, Accompanied by an Essay on the Limerick

The basement has always depressed us.

On the End(s) of Black Politics

By (University of Chicago), (University of Pennsylvania), (University of Illinois at Chicago), (Illinois State University), (Mount Holyoke) and (South Carolina State University)

A politics whose point of departure requires harmonizing the interests of the black poor and working class with those of the black professional-managerial class indicates the conceptual and political confusion that underwrites the very idea of a Black Freedom Movement. The prevalence of such confusion is lamentable; that it go unchecked and without criticism is unacceptable. The essays that appear in this section will critique this tendency and offer in its stead a vision of what we think ought to be.

Introduction to Against Ultraleftism

Our little group of papers, however, is more directed toward what it still makes sense to call the ultraleft: from those who think that Sanders should never have run as a Democrat to those who, disdaining electoral politics, don’t care who runs as what, from those who think that socialism is insufficiently attentive to the particularities of a universe of paramecially fissioning identities to those who sign up for TIDAL under the impression that corporate mass culture is revolutionary popular culture.

On Ascending A High Mountain

The voices from below ring with malicious joy. They do not conceal it; they chuckle gleefully and shout: “He’ll fall in a minute! Serve him right, the lunatic!”

Issue #19: Photography and Philosophy II

In the spring of 2015 nonsite.org in collaboration with the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LACMA) hosted a two-day conference on Photography and Philosophy. For our 19th issue nonsite.org presents essays related to that event. These essays engage with what we take to be central issues in the history and practice of photography today including the autonomy of the photographic image, automatism, time and meaning.

Photography and the Philosophy of Time:
On Gustave Le Gray’s Great Wave, Sète

By (Yeshiva University)

Indeed, over the course of the nineteenth-century, two temporalities became increasingly recognizable in modernizing societies. The “lived time” of premodern and natural cycles oriented to the sun, the tides, the moon became the “measured time” of the clock and the workday, of shipping times and railroads connecting major cities. Although the conventional view would have it that speed and instantaneousness decisively came to dominate with the advent of the railroad and the telegraph, a deeper analysis indicates that only a small percentage in the nineteenth century felt the rigors of measured time decisively undoing an older, natural time.

Shadowboxing

In my imagined temporary community on the stage, in that ring and in those lights, we would have started with a single set of questions, a single set of definitions, and disagreed from there until we came to new sets of questions, and so that is what I will do here, sitting literally alone, around my hearth, and without tribe. The artist always fights herself, in the end. I relax, so I can strike myself harder. I establish my balance, so I can stay on my feet.

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