Re:vision

As I have already made clear in a previous post, for your final assignment, you must revise your first essay of the class.  In that essay, you did your best to connect Weatherford’s observations about the history of money to your own understanding about the value of art.  Your attempts were based on your previous experiences, and were aided by thinking critically about how the concept of money’s value might help to articulate the concept of art’s value.

Now, here at the end of the course, with much more knowledge under your belt about art’s (and the artist’s) value, you need to re-visit and evaluate your initial thoughts.  In order to do that, please begin with these questions:

1.) What did I understand Weatherford’s observations on money to be, and how did I articulate their importance?

2.) How did those observations impact/influence my sense of the value of art?

3.) Which readings/films/discussions seem to have shaped my sense of the value of art/the artist?

Is it work? Why does it matter?

"Hard work, then, is what is good." 

—Josef Pieper, Leisure—The Basis of Culture


What role do the arts and intellectual work have in a culture like the one Thomas Carlyle, “the prophet of the religion of work,” promoted?

Final: Revising Essay #1

So, here it is, the end of the semester.  Hard to believe.  In order to try to bring closure to our conversations regarding the role of art and the artist in American culture, you will return to the first thing you wrote for this class and revise it.

What do I mean by revise?  Well, to revise means literally to “re-see” it.  In the case of your essay on the ways in which Weatherford’s The History of Money relates to value of art and the artist, I want you to re-see it through the lens of everything that we have read and discussed this semester.  In particular, I want you to pay close attention to Lawrence Weschler’s Boggs: A Comedy of Values.  In many ways, Weschler is trying to answer the question you took up in your essays.

Beginning at the bottom of page twenty-two in Boggs (I said twenty-five in class, sorry), Weschler starts to connect the history of money and the idea of money/currency to the work of the artist.  On page twenty-four, he quotes Norman O. Brown:

It is essential to the nature of money for the objects into which wealth or value is condensed to be practically useless … .This theorem is equally true for modern money (gold) and for archaic money (dog’s teeth).

Weschler then further interprets Brown:

Brown goes on to suggest that money therefore consists in the transubstantiation of the worthless into the priceless (of the “filthy” into “lucre).

Hmmm….This should sound very familiar.  The artist—no matter her medium—is engaging in a similar process of creating worth and value where previously none or (literally) nothing existed.  We could say this for DaVinci as easily as we could say it of Banksy.

So, your assignment for the final, is to revise your first essay in light of the connections Weschler is making between money and art and the value of art.  Again, pages 22-35 are a good place to start, but there are plenty of other places in the book that would be useful, too. 

You can and should borrow from, and use as examples, things you wrote on this blog over the course of the semester, including your reflections on leisure, your evaluation of a piece of campus art, your responses to On the Road, and your oral presentation (as well as that of others in the class).

You can also borrow from things your classmates wrote, though you will have to quote them properly (use MLA style!).

Please be prepared to discuss your ideas for revision next week.  The entire last day of class will be devoted to discussing the revision, but I would like to also schedule an additional help session (food and drinks provided) during Reading Days, so stay tuned for that.

See you next week.  In the meantime, re-read what you wrote on the blog and finish Boggs.

PS Please see this article in today’s NY Times for even more ammunition for your revision!  Here’s a little taste of it:

Prominent art writers and critics, including Sarah Thornton, Felix Salmon, Will Gompertz and Dave Hickey, have been attacking the art world, arguing that the staggering sums of money being spent on works are distorting judgments about art and undermining its long-term cultural significance.

“Money talks loudly and easily drowns out other meanings,” Ms. Thornton wrote in TAR magazine in a recent article, “Top 10 Reasons NOT to Write About the Art Market.”

In its special edition for the opening day of the fair, The Art Newspaper asked whether “the art world is facing a crisis of values” because of the “pernicious influence of the market on art.”

Listening to Oral Presentations

While you listen to the oral presentations, I would like you to take note of the kind of reasoning the presenter engages in-inductive or deductive.  

Recall that inductive reasoning involves the observation of a specific case that is used to come to a general conclusion or larger theory.  Deductive reasoning moves in the opposite direction: a general theory or conclusion is applied to a specific case or instance.

Oral Presentations

Beginning December 3rd, everyone in the class will give a 6-8 minute oral presentation on the broad themes of the role of art and the artist in American culture.  You may choose a single piece of art or artist that you feel is especially important to the way we think about art, the artist, or American culture.

When I say “art” I mean literature, music, visual art of all kinds, dance, film, and plays.  When I say “artist,” I mean a similarly broad range: writers, composers, musicians, painters, etc.

No matter what the subject of your presentation is, you must:

  1. Provide a reproduction, recording of, sample from the work itself.  Likewise, if you are presenting on an artist, present a sample of his/her most famous work.
  2. Describe the artist or work of art in detail.  Wikipedia-type biographical info is a start, but you need to go beyond this to inform us of the work’s/artist’s historical context, as well as how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into the larger “tradition” of art.  What important historical events or social currents provide a frame for us to see the work/artist in?  What other famous pieces of art made their debut in the same period?
  3. Evaluate the work of art; in other words, make a claim for the art’s/artist’s importance. Here you will need to rely on three sources for support (Wikipedia is off-limits and please use MLA style).  Use LION to find books and/or on-line databases to track down articles.  The artist’s importance might be in his/her style (Picasso and Braques founded cubism) or it might be his/her philosophy (see Boggs).  It also might be how style and philosophy come together (Lady Gaga?)

Lastly, please use Keynote app to create your presentation.

Presentations will be graded on polish and persuasiveness; in other words, the confidence and professionalism with which the presentation is delivered and how compellingly you make your claim for the value of the art.

If you are looking for models on how to talk about the value of a piece of art, check out this feature on Hyperallergic called "How to Talk About Art."

One way this novel is valuable is it shows the American culture of the late 1940’s to the early 1950’s. The novel shows the mindset of the adolescence not wanting to settle down, but wanting to experience life by traveling all parts of America. When Sal and Dean travel back and forth from one end of the United States to the other, they highlight certain aspects of that land that is important. There is the cowboy Sal meets and how the pies get better as he goes further West. He explains how the land changes as he moves from the West to East. Also, the novel comments on hitchhiking. That is portrayed as being less dangerous than it is today. The novel shows how America is different from one part to another and how America has changed from then to today.  It also shows insight into the beat generation of America. 

Adeline Krieger - The value of “On the Road”

          This book hold little to none value to me personally. My definition of art is that if a piece is relatable to a person, a piece holds more value. When a piece is relatable, it means more to a person; it makes them feel connected to the piece. This book has barely any connection to me. The youth in this book are very reckless and they have no planned ambitions that stick. Dean, Sal and the crew are unsure of where their life is leading them. They do not have parental figures in their life, guiding them or giving them rules and restrictions.

            This book holds value in the fact it explains youth culture of many generations. In childhood there is always a sense of independence, rebellion, a wise beyond years attitude. But this book to me does not describe my childhood and does not relate to me. This book has value to a society in general but to me it holds little personal value.

On the Road- Personal Value

Megan Shufore

On the Road- Personal value

                From a young age I have been an enthusiastic reader; devouring books weekly and always looking for another spine to crack open and begin enjoying. This enthusiasm also instilled within me an eagerness to expose myself to new types of literature and to explore the works of different authors. Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road is a perfect example of a new type of literature with the style of Kerouac’s writing as spontaneous and focused on stream-of-consciousness; creating an honest and straightforward story. The prose lacks superfluous and flowery language and avoids classically stylized forms of writing; for me this difference is what allows me to see the value of the novel.

                The personal value that the book holds is different than the commercial value of $16 or the generational value of the beat generation; my personal value focuses on the style of writing present in the novel and the comparison of the novel to my own generation. In class we discussed the concept of youth culture and how similarities can be seen across generations.  We discussed concepts such as a desire for independence and recklessness, drug usage, promiscuity, stealing, a sense of wanderlust, and the thought of being wise beyond one’s years. Each of these ideas present in Kerouac’s novel, describing the fifties and referencing the beat generation, is also relatable to the modern generation. In my opinion this is what gives Kerouac’s novel personal value.

While Kerouac’s novel may not have specifically been written to elucidate characteristics of the beat generation it became an explanation for this Bohemian way of life that emerged in the fifties. The meanings and purposes that are associated with the ideas of the novel help to give it value beyond its commercialized labels and single generationally focused ideals and allow Kerouac’s piece of work to hold personal value.

On The Road

Character Sketch: Dean Moriarty

Dean is a man of many traits. Hailing from Colorado, he is a young man who has a talent for womanizing young women. “My first impression of Dean was of a young Gene Autry – trim, thin-hipped, blue-eyed, with a real Oklahoma accent – a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” (Kerouac, 7). In and out of jail, Dean finds himself with Sal on his journeys – and many of his own. He is continuously caught between places and women, particularly Mary Lou and Camille. Even though he seems like a big time cheater, we tend to feel sorry for him as he explains his life. “From the age of eleven to seventeen he was usually in reform school. His specialty was stealing cars…” (Kerouac, 38). He just seems so care-free, even if his life wasn’t right at the start. As we discussed about Bohemianism, we see how he takes life as it comes, whether he really feels it or not.
Bohemian Values
            Sal Paradise has a good example of Bohemianism. As I said about Dean, he takes life as it comes. He goes out west for the hell of it, to find Dean, and when Dean comes back and wants to venture off again… Sal goes sure, I’ll go. He measures things in distance, rather than time. He could think he’s 15 hours from a city… but rather he finds himself 15 miles. That to me tells me time is no issue, it’s all purely by means of getting to where you want to go. “The bus trip from Denver to Frisco was uneventful except that my whole soul leaped to it the nearer we got to Frisco.” (Page 57). By saying this, we see how Sal was ever so longing just to be there. He totally didn’t seem to mind being in new places, or people. “A guy with a kind of toolshack on wheels, a truck full of tools that he drove standing up like a modern milkman, gave me a ride up the long hill, where I immediately got a ride from a farmer and his son heading out for Adel in Iowa.”(page 19).

Vision of America

            Sal makes note that he “..thought all the wilderness of America was in the West till the Ghost of the Susquehanna showed [him] different…”(whole last paragraph, page 99). There are many visions of America, and it seems as though wherever Sal goes, he’ll always be home, in America.

Christiana Boroughs Reading Reflection

The speaker Christiana Boroughs uses human experiences to shape her poems. These experience range from the death of her sister to her lovers. The words that she uses when describing these human experiences lean towards the physical experience than the emotional or mental experience. The death of her sister is a prime example. She uses imagery to describe the visual experience of what happened to her. Boroughs paints a picture for the reader but the reader has to improvise the mental and emotional anguish her sister was experiencing. By only relying on the physical portion of the human experience, any audience can relate.

Another subject matter of Boroughs’s poems is the tension African Americans face in society. This subject matter is apart of her writing because Boroughs was raised in the South and is an African American woman. An example of this would be the poem where she talks about the rap video that was recorded in her neighborhood and Stone Mountain. In this poem she makes references to both subjects back and forth as if they were fighting each other. This paints a picture of modern African Americans and the historic Ku Klux Klan mountain rivaling for existence in the 21st century.

-Bhanu Shekhawat