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Stuck in the Art Circle
on 26 December 2010
This book, written by a philosophy professor, is filled with circular reasoning that would be spotted by a ten year old.
For instance, the author rejects the representational theory of art with the argument, that some art isn't representational. Therefore, the representational theory must be wrong. Easy, right?
Wrong. The whole point of the representational theory is that non-representational art *isn't* art. Carroll's argument is therefore a non sequitur. Essentially, he just says: "YES, IT IS". To which the representationalist will respond: "NO, IT ISN'T". Quite a debate!
Carroll assumes what needs to be proven: that the avantgarde is art. Duchamp's ready-mades and "Two Minutes of Silence" are art. Why? No idea. Because Carroll and modernist art critics say so, presumably. Therefore, definitions of art which would exclude Duchamp and the Silent Guy cannot be correct. QED.
That's an argument?
When the chips are down, Carroll cannot even present a definition of his own, at least not a coherent one. Carroll believes that design isn't art. Why not? Many people would disagree. But perhaps they aren't part of the cognoscenti Art Circle. He further believes that a traffic sign used as a wall decoration wouldn't be art. Again, why not?
What is art? Perhaps the question cannot be given a clear answer. And then, perhaps it can. How come the public after 100 years of modernist indoctrination still doesn't consider the modernist monstrosities to be "art"? Carroll implies that such people are simply silly and philistine. Another possibility is that modern and postmodern art simply doesn't appeal to some kind of aesthetic, symbolic or ritual instincts deeply embedded in our psyches. In plain English: no, Noël, it really isn't "art" after all!