Kevin Smith, “Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good,” Chapter Nine. (via ryking)
But of course art does fail, does get classified and graded. Because that is art too, even the application of a “mathematical absolute”. And so too, this can fail. Art can fail, perhaps if in only one way, when people are so captivated and conditioned by art that they can imagine themselves presiding over it non-artistically, a fit of caprice grounded in fiat. This would be similar to the neo-atheist imagining that an attack on religion per se is possible without exuding religio-metaphysical and faith based conceits.
That art is staged, enacted, received, heard, recognized, panned or applauded means self-expression is just a warrior in the agon. Self-expression is only part of the show. It can say to itself in a pre-stage gutcheck “I cannot fail”, knowing precisely that it can - and, in a deeper echo, knowing itself as a spirited response to failure.
Art fails when it forgets itself, falling into sentimentality and self-assuredness. When we laugh at the aboriginal - these brutes who did the cave art so so long ago when god knows what the Neanderthals were doing, snicker at their notion of art as a necessary singing, dancing and painting reality into existence, sustaining order over contingency and dancing on volcanos - thinking we have a failure free lens into a natural world indifferent, permanent and un-requiring of our labour, we fancy failure. Art becomes unconscious.
But this is the threat, a possible fate, a harrowing horizon or the downdraft of opportunity, when translation is the absolute.