Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Exit Music

December 7, 2010 - 10:32pm -- Carol Diehl

I’m off to LA on Friday until the end of the month, and never know what that means for blogging. Could be more, could be less.

I’ll leave you with this link to an article about the MFA creative writing culture that Ken Johnson posted on Facebook, saying, “With minor changes, it could be about art.” Both are institutional programs whose primary objective is self-perpetuation. The only difference, really, is that we don’t have two visual art cultures—everything goes through New York. Or does it? Can you get a teaching job with a local reputation? Where the writing programs concentrate on more easily achieved short stories, rather than novels, visual art programs encourage the art equivalent by not being nearly rigorous enough. It always amazes me what gets by.

I wasn’t going to mention Steve Martin ever again (really!) except that in his apologia in the Times on Saturday (where he errs on the side of earnestness—a boring piece about whether or not he was boring is rather likely to make us think he was) he refers to Times writer Deborah Solomon, as an “art scholar.” I won’t say any more. Yes I will. I first got on her case when I wrote a review (ARTnews, May, 1997) of Utopia Parkway, her biography of Joseph Cornell, where she delved into the details of the artist’s sex life, quoted from his very personal diaries, interviewed ex-girlfriends, and went on at some length conjecturing about what it took for the man to achieve orgasm. An art scholar would have known better.

And finally, apropos of nothing, I’ll share some quotes from Thom Yorke I found when I was looking for another quote and didn’t find it, something to the effect that “when you get famous you go up your own arse.” But these are also worth repeating even though, because it’s the Web, no one feels the need to tell us where they originated:

My girlfriend has this quote in her sketchbook: "Remain orderly in your life so you can be free and chaotic in your work." I think basically you lose it when you destroy your brain or destroy yourself emotionally or burn yourself up.

It's easy to be miserable. Being happy is tougher - and cooler.

People sometimes say we take things too seriously, but it's the only way you'll get anywhere.


The first quote, "Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and chaotic in your work," is by Flaubert, from Madame Bovary. I think all self-styled, cultured intellectuals attempt to read this book at least once, and though it contains moments of true beauty let's face it, it's tedious as hell. (and isn't that largely the point?)

It's one of my favorite quotes. I also love, "An artist is identical with an anarchist, he cried..." by Chesterton. Look it up.

Thank you so much for this! I read Madame Bovary a long time ago, and afterward went on a little Flaubert binge that included the notes from his travels in Egypt. I have just downloaded the newest translation of Madame Bovary by one of my favorite authors, Lydia Davis, and am looking forward to re-reading it on the plane.

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