On Maximalism, 1: An Eye & an Eye: Or, What does Art Require of Us

by on May.17, 2011

1.What does Art command, how does Art issue its demands?

Art's sleepwalker

a clusterfuck

2. Art’s command is a command to repeat, to mirror, to double, to drag, to copy, to issue copies, corrupt copies, mutating copies, inexact copies, unfaithful copies, blurred and smeared copies, hallucinatory copies, obscene copies, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, to accumulate so many copies that the copies become a poison, to go beyond what can be borne, beyond the maximum. Art downloads its program into the body and reprograms the body’s functions for making copies of itself. Art is a virus, malware, a clusterbomb, a clusterfuck.

3.Any aperture or medium or means of egress will work, & Art will eat its own apertures if necessary. But Art’s preferred orifice is the eye. Indeed, any orifice stands in for the eye: a puking, shitting, sweating, tearing, bleeding eye: an artificial eye: Art’s insignia.

"It is engendered in the eye--"

4.This is why, in Oedipus Rex, it must be the blind prophet Tiresias that Oedipus consults to find out who has murdered his father (a murder Oedipus himself has committed, of course). For the blind seer Tiresias, blindness is sight. It is the sight that burns, a violent sight, like laser vision, a dangerous vision he is at first afraid to unloose. He is a medium this vision because his eyes have been repurposed from their conventional biological function (sight) towards this mediumicity. This vision is a paradox: vision and blindness are coterminous, are twinned; born at the same time; crowding the same orifice; issued in pain; infectious.

5.O to T: “You’ve lost your power/stoneblind, stone-deaf—senses, eyes blind as stone!”
O to T: “Blind, lost in the night, endless night that nursed you! /You can’t hurt me or anyone else who sees the light, you can never touch me!”
O to T: “this scheming quack/this fortune-teller peddling lies, eyes peeled/for his own profit—seer blind in his craft!”
T to O: “I will never shrink from the anger in your eyes, you can’t destroy me”
T to O:“You with your precious eyes/you’re blind to the corruption in your life”
T to O: “Go in and reflect on that, solve that./And if you find I’ve lied/frm this day onward call the prophet blind.

6.The terms “eyes” and “blind”, so prevelant in these exchanges, are not just there for irony or statement of theme. The terms become objects, pile up, accumulate so much blindness and black eyes as to make a blind spot which both replaces and is identified as vision: a vision of evil, of corrupt blood, of blackness. Resultingly, Oedipus is blinded not so much by his own action or his own guilt but simply as a compulsion to accommodate the blindness piling up all over the stage. He twins Art’s medium, Tiresias. He becomes a medium for violent vision. He does not only pluck out his eyes, he sticks gold brooches in them. Thus the site of blindness is bejeweled and adorned with Art, “of Grecian Gold and Gold enamelling”, the black blood of blindness flows out around the brooches, the pestilence that has plagued Thebes finds a locus in his eyes and spreads out from there—a paradoxically fluid, visible blindness.

7.The same relationship may be seen in David Lynch’s Moholland Drive. Here it is Club Silencio where, paradoxically, one goes to listen. The orifice of the ear is a standin for the orifice of the eye; the singer’s eyes are fantastically made up and the camera lodges there. The singer sings ‘llorando’ (crying) and the protagonists begin to cry, their faces contorted, their eyes (and their eyemakeup) seemingly melted. When the singer collapses, ‘llorando’ remains; singing remains; crying remains; Art remains, having ravished and destroyed the body it has moved through, and moved on to new bodies, given the twinned-but-not-identical protagonists new faces (they are be-wigged, bad copies of each other), contorted into tragic grimaces, marked for Art, shedding Art from their orifices.

4 comments for this entry:
  1. don mee

    Thanks, Joyelle for this wonderful post!
    It makes me want to reread all the poems by Kim Hyesoon with eyes in them. In Korean the word “eyes” [nun — pronounced as noon] sounds the same as snow.

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