‘the live’ (again)

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

A genealogy of “the live” (which is not quite the same as ‘live art’) could, perhaps usefully, be conducted through the history of urbanism, particularly that of urban loneliness & hysteria over the effect of cities. Urban sociality implies mediation, even beyond the all-encompassing mediating apparatus of commodity production. The organicist critiques that entwine ‘mass’ (as in standardised) & ‘industrial’ (as in ‘sterile’, brutal etc) culture – Jaspers, Heidegger, Lawrence, Eliot etc – can perhaps be seen at the root of this, although shadowed, of course, by critiques of mediation going back to Plato’s Pharmakon. The valorisation of the rooted, self-contained peasant community can be seen in the examples of folk art & ritual (often bowdelerised or, less often, invented outright) studied & revived during the Edwardian era (including the camping & skinny-dipping of Rupert Brooke’s ‘neo-pagans’) & among the German mystic-nationalist groups that, after the First World War, formed the intellectual basis of Nazism. (Nazism’s emphasis on theatre, pageantry & communal outdoor exercise – conditions that created “a golden age for the joiner-in, for the sycophant & the sneak” – rather resembles the priorities of many of the big London galleries’ curators.)

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