« the eyelessness of days without a letter | Main | recent acquisitions »

June 14, 2009

Comments

Franklin

No port or cigars - just a culture of Postmodernism Über Alles. I was a member two years ago and they were publishing nonsense like this. In the last six months they have contacted me twice, once by e-mail and once by phone, to encourage me to re-join. On the contrary - I rather wish the organization had one throat so I could open it with a razor. I'm sure other, more effective, less tendentious organizations would spring up to replace it.

JL

I rather wish the organization had one throat

From now on, I always think of you as Little Boots. After reading the post you link to, I suppose now isn't the time to tell you that I picked up a whole stack of back issues of The Art Bulletin last Friday? Along with a few stray issues of other things, one of which was the issue of AQ from which the quote above came.

Franklin

I picked up a whole stack of back issues of The Art Bulletin last Friday

Voluntarily?

I'm afraid I don't know the Little Boots reference.

JL

"Little Boots" was the nickname given by Roman soldiers to the young Gaius Caesar, who later (according to Suetonius) expressed the wish Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem haberet--"Would that the Roman people had but one neck." He's better known under the Latin version of his nickname, Caligula.

Voluntarily?

But of course! At 25 cents a copy (or 5 for a dollar), quite a deal, too. Mostly stuff from the '70's and '80's, but a few scattered issues from as early as 1954 and a couple from as recent as this decade. I've not gone through them in any detail yet, of course, but from what I've seen, almost every issue has at least one or two things I'm interested in. I'm especially a sucker for those "state of the discipline" review articles for different areas--17th century Dutch painting, Italian Renaissance, etc. Always interesting to see how those have aged. Now I don't have to go to the library to do so.

Picked up a bunch of other things, too, that might be of more interest. Plan to post about it soon. Or soonish.

JL

Um, I suppose I should add that I don't see you as any sort of world-historical level infamous despot and murderer or anything. Just, you know, the quote struck me.

Franklin

I concede the level of vitriol as Roman at its worst, but I direct it at a bastion of pomo at its worst. The CAA promotes the most blinkered view of contemporary art possible and mistreats job seekers year after year. Occasionally I give thought to how one might destroy it.

That said, the quote you posted above makes me wonder if the CAA always had a supercilious culture and academic postmodernism duly found a home there because of it.

JL

I'm certainly not equipped to describe what the culture of CAA was like in 1932, when Valentiner gave his after-dinner talk. I'd hestitate to speculate on the basis of that quote that it was necessarily supercilious or anything else (the biography of Valentiner linked to above demonstrates his seriousness, at least.) I've never had to interview for job there, thank god, and at this point never will, but I'm afraid abusive hiring practices are a pretty widespread phenomenon in academia these days (and not just in the humanities), though not universal. That doesn't absolve the organization by any means, but it does point to a broader problem. In any event, I can't claim any firsthand experience with how CAA treats its artist members.

To perhaps state the obvious, what I found amusing about the quote was the picture it gave of a very different world--if not a supercilious world, certainly one that operated on very different rules. Perhaps I've simply not been attending the right conferences, but I can't think of one I've ever gone to (in a variety of fields) in which the atmosphere was like the sort of private club the comment evokes. That may be reading too much into it (though I don't think it is), and it may be objected that these days it's simply a different kind of club; nonetheless, it was a rather charmingly anachronistic note, I thought, in an otherwise straightforward article.

Franklin

At the CAA, the hiring abuses take place at an event put on by an organization that purports a commitment to the "highest professional and ethical standards of scholarship, creativity, connoisseurship, criticism, and teaching." Sadly, I speak from experience as an artist member and job seeker that they put on an unnavigable hiring event that seems geared towards giving provincial faculty an excuse to visit a major city.

In 2006, seven months after I did my best to humiliate them in public, they significantly improved their hiring ettiquette guidelines. The 2009 conference provided a lounge in which they made concessions to human comfort on behalf of the job seekers for the first time in the 98-year history of the organization. But my friend who attended in 2009 encountered a disaster, I encountered a disaster when I went in 2007, and I continue to advise people not to attend unless they have a pre-arranged interview.

Now that I understand that the excerpt above was an aside in a straightforward article, I have to say that it's pretty funny. You've been attending the right conferences, I think, but those days are quite gone at the CAA, unless it maintains a VIP drawing room for the staunchest partisans, which wouldn't surprise me.

The comments to this entry are closed.

From the Bookshelves

Email

  • Send email to modkicks at yahoo dot com