The Ballad of Ken (My Critics Just Don't Understand Me)

song du jour: To Get Down, Timo Maas

mood: hmm...

While I've very much appreciated Jean's, Matthew's, Tuff Ghost's, and eBuddha's takes and the recent posts at P2P on the latest in the integrally informed blogosphere, I haven't felt that it was worthy of taking time away from bigger priorities in my life, but now there are some thoughts going round in my head that are best expressed, so I can move on to something more interesting... like watching paint dry. (To those readers, who hang around here for the more usual topics of art and life, I apologize.)

I find it a little disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, that Ken and a few others consider a 'come on you bastards' approach to be superior until someone names Ken as the bastard. Apparently, an acceptance of verticality means accepting that Ken is at the top level, and the rest of us poor schmucks are lucky if we possess the brains and awareness to step over the all hallowed threshold of 'second tier,' just high enough to lick the master's boots. As I'm learning from Don Beck's CD set, the idea of colors as personality types is about as accurate as the tossing around of the unsubstantiated term 'third tier.' Why is it that all these guys talk on and on about taking in as many perspectives as possible and then rant endlessly about the vast superiority of their own particular pet theories, backed up or not?

I've yet to find any serious criticism of the AQAL model that holds water. I'm quite the AQAL junky. I-I's pop use of SD and SDi is rather attrocious, although I can't stomach Chris Cowan's whining either. There is value in a place that allows dialog and opposing points, such as Frank Visser's site. It is unfortunate that in an effort to be all inclusive the site includes a few loonies along with the gems (as does life). I confess that can't make heads or tails of de Quincy's writing, but I grasp Ken's on the first read. If Ken knows he's a better theorizer (and in the past, and I hope the future, a better writer) than most, why still sing the same tired song about his critics? (Bit of shadow there, buddy?) Most of us have heard it. It's all over many of his books. The refrain is the same, and it keeps coming back around again...

I will add a little advice out there, not just to Ken, but to all, who seek, or claim to seek, to create cutting edge art: If what you create upsets people, and that pleases you, don't spend more time justifying it and explaining it than the art itself requires for people to experience. Give it some context, preferably on the front end if possible, and then let it stand. Make a short statement if you have to, but then back off. Anything more indicates a chink in the armor of the artist, an obvious self doubt that the technique employed was not sufficient to carry the message to the few you think will be able to receive it.

For what it's worth, I knew it was a test when I tried to stay awake through the initial post. I also recognized that if I said I didn't like it or that I found it a little embarrassing for the guy, I would join the ranks of those labeled 'green' and summarily dismissed. There is no room for those, who engage in integral or holistic systems of thinking and would prefer to think of Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp. How about 'second tier with a lower development in the frat boy humor line?' 'Second tier without a penis?' Ah, but as the very insightful comment on Matthew's blog states, the only acceptable answers for how one might react are conversation enders. They are designed that way.

And speaking of those things, I wasn't overly offended or outraged by Ken's use of the words, suck, my, and dick in the same sentence. - Jean would probably say therein lies the notion of verticality in my case as she often jokes about the possibilities of my 5'0" stature when paired with very tall men. - I was too asleep by the time I read that far in his post to care much, but, again as an artist, and one with highly irreverent bordelloesque sense of humor and who can curse like a sailor outside the presence of small children (usually), in the public eye, I prefer the Seinfeldian approach to comedy that curse words are cheap and easy and, used too often, can be a poor substitute for real creativity.

Ultimately, the whole mess was about marketing. It would have been far too easy to launch a masters program by contacting those, who took the first IU online graduate course in integral studies, and offer us any kind of credit toward the new programs in exchange for the $1K we spent reading Brief History of Everything and participating in some concalls. It would have been a no brainer to remember that out of 50 of us out there, a few might still be interested. So much better to cause mild scandal to generate interest than to pitch first to your known market.

Ah, but then what do I know? Saul Williams liked Ken's post. Ken's rock star fantasies are fulfilled. If Ken doesn't like my saying this, he can pull my Integral Naked pages (I've noticed Marc Gafni's are still up.) and form a sentence, using the words, kiss, my and ass. (That's just the relative, buddy. Don't take it all too seriously, or you fail the test.)


WH said...

Excellent post. Thanks for taking time away from watching paint dry to add you rvoice to the conversation.


ebuddha said...

But is it "good art?" It it a "good performance piece blog"?

Aren't performance pieces supposed to "shock"?

Inquiring minds want to know!

(Of course, I think you answered this question - performance art followed by 2000 explanations don't really work.

victoria said...

Thanks, guys!

Like Jean says, the car you are driving is art (even if it's a pinto). It's just probably not good art (unless perhaps it's a handbuilt classic). Performance art should shock if the artist is nihilistic and/or still stuck in the 70's. Yes, ebuddha, you summarized my answer quite well.

One of my basic beliefs about good art is that it has the quality to be compelling, whether by its ability to slam the viewer between the eyes, by its sheer beauty, or by its meaning. Whether the viewer likes it or not, it should move something within the him/her, and sometimes that feeling is comfortable, and sometimes it is not. By definition, I don't think lame, mouthing off, whining, or boring equals compelling.

Is it good art when I walk down the hall because I am a trained dancer? Probably not.

Was it good art when Picasso signed his name on a blank cocktail napkin? Probably not (but it had monetary value anyway).

Is it good art when a brilliant thinker writes a VERY long, repetitive, stream of consciousness blog post? Probably not.


David Jon Peckinpaugh said...

Yeah V,

Probably not!!

But you know how Ken receives 'positive transferences' as well as the negative style.

I love it when some mentioned how 'powerful' and 'transformative' Ken's piece was for them. I bout pissed myself. ; o )

Could of been the diuretic... but... probably not.

David Jon

P.S. Nice sane--and that's saying a ton, as you know--piece of commentary on the whole spiel. Way to go!

Shawn said...

Great post V and happy bday!!!!



Bob D. said...

Ha! I love it! The best commentary I've seen on the matter thus far. I too am fine with the riffing, suck my this-ing, blowing off steam attempt at being artful. But the lame and condescending and pathetically compulsive justifications!

I look forward to checking out the rest of your site.


victoria said...

Thanks for the b-day wishes, David Jon & Shawn!!!

Glad my post resonated with you, Bob.

Happy Flag Day,

Anonymous said...

You like Kurt Russell, Victoria???


Anonymous said...

Seriously, I love the "little advice" you gave regarding cutting edge art, and quoted you on the Chicago Integral Artist's (CIA!)forum.

But really, Kurt Russell???


victoria said...

What's so bad about Kurt Russell? Ok, so he's not Sean Connery or Harrison Ford, and I'd probably pay more attention to Val Kilmer, playing a goofy Doc Holiday, but at least Kurt has hair and can be funny. Guess I watched too many Disney movies as a kid. ;-)

Thanks for quoting me at the CIA forum!

Jean said...

Hey, re Kurt Russell, two words:

Snake Plisskin.

("Man, I heard you were dead.")