In the beginning of Origins, Lyotard is quoted as saying that "What alone could destroy capitalism was the world-wide 'drift of desire' among the young, away from libidinal investment in the system, to libidinal power," which he views as being enacted by works of art (27). But, by the end of the book, I'm seeing very little possibility for such revolutionary works of art. Through the works of Jameson and Eagleton, Anderson traces a movement beginning with the disappearance of the avant-garde's traditional foil, the bourgeoisie/academic art, and ending with the disintegration of high/low distinctions into a single market defined by the spectacle. The result is Jameson's gloomy phrase, "Where once beauty could be a subversive protest against the market and its utility-functions, today the universal commodification of the image has absorbed it as a treacherous patina of the established orderâ€¦all beauty today is meretricious" (110). The conclusion seems to be that beauty is doomed to be absorbed and reinscribed within the system it attempts to critique, and that the alternative, ultra-modern attempts to negate the spectacular will simply be eclipsed by it. By the end the book it is very unclear to me what form politically radical art could take, although I get the sense that the torch may be being passed to the critical theorist, whose job it becomes to interrogate the quality of social life through the text or work of art (131). Does Anderson allow for the possibility of politically subversive art, or is the work like any other cultural commodity insofar as it can be used as a clue to the status of larger society?
By aha - Posted on 30 September 2007 - 10:33pm.