Saturday, December 01, 2012

Norman Fischer, from his essay "Do You Want to Make Something Out of It?":

The reason we need art so desperately I would say is that the world and we ourselves persist in being made. There is something exhausting and troublesome in the madeness of the world and in the madeness of ourselves. What is made has always the quality of limitation or unsatisfactoriness. Madeness captures us into a vicious cycle of desiring more madeness or better madeness, and the madeness we get only makes us want to make improvements or additions. Art making is an anti-making. It is an anti-making because it is a making of what is useless--this is what makes art art, that it is useless, that it doesn't do anything, that it is something inherently unmade and this is the source of its liveliness. Any piece of art stares us in the face with the fact of its being what it is uselessly, it is a record of a person's commitment to the confrontation with the made, a confrontation one is bound to come away from second best, and yet one does it, and reaches a peak of exaltation in the doing of it, and the art work facing the viewer or hearer is a phenomenal testament to that useless confrontation, which by virtue of its supreme failure, calls our life into question. If you really look at a piece of art or hear a piece of music or poetry or see a dance, you walk away wondering about your life. This is what these objects are supposed to do, this is why artists make such sacrifices in the doing of what they do--because this doing is the undoing at least temporarily of what has done them in in their lives and would do them in to the point of death or madness if it weren't undone in the process of making art.