Art as Praxis

I concur with the posited 4 possibilities of art and basically agree that art exists in and around these 4 dimensions without being decided. Perhaps in some ways they correspond to my “4 Positions” which is a synthesis, condensation, and reworking of Lacan’s 4 discourses and Badiou’s 4 ontologies.

Ontology – Discourse – Symptom – Sovereignty – Art

1. Transcendental – Master – narcissism – hierarchical/patriarchal sovereignty – Art in itself

2. Constructivist – Academic – obsessionality – systemic/flat sovereignty – The arts as profession

3. Generic – Hysteric – hysteria – deconstructed/denied sovereignty – the Art of anything

4. Subjective – Analyst – sinthome – axiomatic/evental sovereignty – Art as anything

These 4 variations of art are intricately related. 1 and 4 are related in their focus on sovereignty, though of an opposite nature. 2 and 3 are related in their focus on pragmatics though also different in nature. Interestingly these 4 arts not only line up with my 4 positions but also follow the same order I see in the 4 positions as 4 stages of evolution – phylogentically and ontogenetically. In fact this 4 part structure along with its unfolding concept of change can be used to explain many things – like an oracle or mathematical-poetic device.

We can use this oracle to understand the unfolding political nature of man. The transcendental position of patriarchy is problematic but retains the sacred subjectivity of sovereignty as Carl Schmitt points out in his defense of Hitler against the constructivist bureaucratic state envisaged by Kojeve’s Hegelian reading of the end of history. Modern artistic movements aim to move beyond both positions 1 and 2 through a form of individuated generic sovereignty, yetit threatens to remain hysterical by virtue of being in denial or repression – creating a solipsistic culture exchange which although it pushes beyond the state planning of red or black socialism remains in a capitalism of desire as lack. The exit from position 3 to 4 through the eye of the needle is to fully recognize mimetic desire (as lack) as a dead end game as long as it remains unconscious of itself and its zero-sum strategy of scarcity in the form of winners and losers. The move toward stage 4 is reflected in Bataille’s work on sovereignty and how the sovereign artist must embrace the void and accept loss and abjection – poverty and rejection – the opposite of the current recapture of art into the gallery market or academic state.

The sovereign artist parallels Lacan’s idea of the passage from the analysand to analyst as an experience of total loss or subjective destitution which can precede and/or accompany the passage from unconscious symptom to refined, enacted, and enjoyed sinthome. This is also the practice of sublimation or the sublime that links alchemy, art, and psychoanalysis. Another name for this final state is axiomatic. This is what Duve’s book is about with regard to the true meaning of modern art and nature of existence after Duchamp “accelerated” Kant’s categorical imperative. Not only are there unreconcilable categories of truth but the only imperative is to invent an imperative – in the face of post-modern relativism and nihilism. The subject is not an individual being but a sacred and evental process – a procedure of invention. The sacred and infinite nature of Being as Becoming as described by both the Summa Theologica and the I Ching – or Book of Change – unites mathematical and theological concepts of an ontology of transformation with the local generic material conditions of “being there” in the human universe provided that we take responsibility for axiomatically deciding and making (or co-creating) the world. This is why theory and practice are inseparable as praxis.