Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The end of Art History


Some readers will know that I have been accepted by the Art History Department at the University of Auckland as a PhD candidate. My subject is the influence of architectural historians on architectural culture in New Zealand. I think it is what those PoMo chaps call a meta-narrative.

There are some who have misgivings about the value of meta-narratives or, for that matter any kind of narrative, such as Mark Miller Graham:
Closure denotes a satisfying end, a coming to terms, in which highly suspect and subjective stylistic and iconographic sequences form a causal chain as if they were dominoes of the gods. Thus, they play upon existential desires for resolution. One way of accounting for art history's unnatural attachment to narrative closure is to turn to the psychoanalytical notion of cathexis, as the libidinal investment made in the narrative. The history of art is propelled forward by this energy invested in narrative. Together, chronology and closure are a kind of machinery that can be likened to, or are actual expressions of, the quest for (male) sexual release.
That would explain it, then: Art History is a load of wank.

9 comments:

George Darroch said...

Lyotard wrote in 1979 “Simplifying in the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives.” It sounds to me like you're writing a narrative. Just tell them that when the PoMoPolice arrive at your door. I suggest you also have a contingency escape plan for this occasion.

Sam Finnemore said...

My response to postmodernism, in the context of history, is basically that as long as I know what it is that I'm doing (yes, constructed, yes, metanarrative, and so on) I'm clear. Someone else can mine through my mistakes later, as long as I'm able to say what it is that I'm doing and do it with intellectual honesty.

Historians tend to have a healthy skepticism towards the more virulent strains of postmodernism, anyway, so it's a supportive environment for those who treasure narrative.

Peter in Dundee said...

Very best wishes in your academic endeavor Paul and I hope it leaves you enough time to continue to blog. Politeness and respect, not to mention being sober, restrain me from pointing out what those of us in the real sciences think of such thesis subjects...

However if you are just writing a story, then fine ;-)

Apathy Jack said...

This isn't relevant to Art History (because, hell, what is...?) rather it is related to the picture you have posted:

You should watch this. I think you'll find it worth three minutes of your time.

Anonymous said...

Hurrah! My suspicions have been confirmed re: Art History

(Second year Art History BA)

Robyn said...

So you'll be Dr Fundy? Like, awesome!

jo said...

art HIStory...couldn't be much else, really i'm turning green with envy. Art history is so full of erect phallic forms and there you have it, its all about sexual release. it's a quest of mine to keep flashing my cunt as often as possible, you must already know its where you all came from in the first place.

Anonymous said...

There's good PM (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze) and bad PM (Baudrillard, Baudrillard, and more Baudrillard) I was so relieved when the annoying old fart died last year.

Craig Y

Stef said...

congrats
(or should that be commiserations) on your acceptance.