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27 february 2006

 

From: "shepherd steiner"
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com
Subject: 4 but not quite counting
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:59:29 -0800

Hi Everyone:

I just wanted to chip in on the ongoing discussion. And not wanting to
entirely destabilize the emerging front for enchanment, (Im only half
kidding, as I did count 3) I'd like to ask whatever happened to the
great category of disenchanment. Becuase if enchanment comes at the cost of
disenchanment then I become nervous. Even if enchanment is being used
here (and probably in a number of ways) in a negative or imaginative sense
(say as a modest proposal), I think one can't dispose of the threat of
totalization. Love and magic is one thing, and I have no problem
accepting these terms into a critical discussion, but as a belief structure that is duplicitous and seducing one I think needs to complement these with a good measure of the old melancholy--which in no way prohibits one from
enchanting as one wiches. Otherwise one simply falls too with other sorts of optimisms that the left seems to continually forget. Perhaps Im out of line here?

And perhaps you are reacting to modernities disenchanting power? Can
someone explain if this uncertainty or rhetoricity is built in or not.

No doubt there is an argument to be made for ordering contemporary art
practices according to their varying emphases on enchanment and
disenchantment. Im ok with this as long as one kind of practice keeps
the other safe and buried away --socially engaged art not excluded.

best

shep

 

Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 14:52:59 -0800 (PST)
From: "gregg smith"
Subject: how refreshing!
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com

Its good to hear Shep questioning the enchantment idea as I did hear violins in coming into the chorus at moments, which is always disquieting, but i do find both points of view refreshing.

I did have a friend (who is not present in the discussion), a few months ago, championing a new cause apparently smouldering in somewhere in the undergrowth of the post-idealist morass, which has been labelled as 'passionate belief'. Be it a provocative stance or a genuine throwback to romanticism and sincerity, i don't doubt that it is a calculated stance, bearing in mind the painful lessons of modernism and also at times the numbing ennui of post-modernism. i agree that its difficult to stomach such a stance without a dose of humour, irony, melancholy, or some other derisive element. for contemporary artists, idealism may be difficult to embrace, but i don't doubt it continues to exist in many violent forms in society at large.

From what I have understood of the talk around 'enchantment' thus far, I would agree that such an idea can only be useful if, in the process it reveals an illusion or deception, and/or otherwise enables a level of direct or intuitive engagement which is not otherwise normal. personally i am for forms of engagement which ground the individual in their own reality and perhaps also an awareness of the human tendency to have personal projections onto events, which distance one from what is happening.

G