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a mug is a mug/"not"

updated tue 16 nov 10


douglas fur on sun 14 nov 10

I got the book noted in a post a ways back about an artists letters from
Japan. In it he digresses into a musing on things as such and merchantile
speech. It looked like this was not origonal to him so I googled "things a=
such" or "things as things themselves" which got a million of hits on
HIgelians and Goethe and one from Augustine of Hippo re: his work "The

He go's on and on in a socratic dialog with his son on the difference
between signs and the thing which is signified- To skim some chapter
heads...*The mind must be directed towards the things which are signified
... and wether all things, and also the cognition of them, should be
preffered to the their signs...whether things can be taught without signs.
Things are not learned through words themselves. *
So the answer to the question in the subject is "no" "mug" is a sign for a
group of things which have the name "mug". No one of those things is "mug"
but each is a thing in itself.

"And so?" I think this is the crux of the Pots/art dilemma=3D> the art
schools have become dominated by the Po-Mo semiotics crowd to such an exten=
that signs have precidence over things. In other words they can't get past
the sign "mug" and see the thing as a thing in itself. Art therefore
becomes the search for "pure" "true" "unique" "original" thing which becaus=
of its singularity has no pre-existing sign (which leavews the uninitiated
to stutter 'it must be art" or "I don't get it. It must be art")

This exceptionalism leads to the putting aside of all things for which
there is a sign into a category beneath contempt. By giving the sign "mug"
precidence over the thing itself the "mug" can't be a "pure" "true" "unique=
"original" thing and therefore can't be Art.

The problem with this presumption is it makes our lives empty of meaningful
things. We must go to the "artiste" "art maven/critic" "gallery" or
"museum" to find meaning.

But this is back-asswards, arsey versey we learn from things when we are i=
relationship to things as things themselves. The signs we use for them hav=
no meaning in themselves. No, it's not a pipe. It's a bunch of painted
marks on canvas stretched on a board frame.

The threat to the art world is (to mash up metaphores) admitting one "mug"
as art, as a meaningful thing, would be the camel's nose under the tent tha=
will reveal the emperor has no clothes.

Seola Creek