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Re: RE if blp was more than a blip

From:     blp
Category: Art
Date:     11 June 2008
Time:     10:00 AM


See you in Hell? It's a date! Would you like me to bring you anything from up top? Some White Cube 
catalogues maybe? I think I can just about assimilate them into my carry-all, if not, perhaps, my 
leadenly bourgeois psyche. 

Falsely quoted? I guess I should have cited my source: Gilles Deleuze, 'Letter to a harsh critic', the 
first essay in his book 'Negotiations'. 

You're latest response is so full of strange, unfounded assumptions about me, my imagined political 
correctness, my supposed bourgeouis (sic) status and and my inability to assimilate the (oh brother) 
otherness of the Chapmans, plus a continuing inability to understand my basic point that it feels 
almost as if you're talking to someone else. 

I've just said I wasn't making an appeal to 'real feelings' but pointing out the Chapmans' own difficulty 
negotiating this idea, but hey, never mind the facts on the screen, you go ahead and cite my 'appeal 
to real feelings'. You talk about criticism that is extraneous to the intention, but everything I've written 
has been designed to demonstrate that the Chapmans' intention is confused. That's where I stand. 
You don't need to know what art I like to deal with that point. Nothing you've said addresses it or 
suggests you've even understood it. You ask me again to stop making assumptions about the 
Chapmans' audience when I've already answered the point and made no further assumptions 
subsequently. Are you sure you're even reading my posts? Oh, yeah, no you probably are, given that 
you keep bouncing back terms I've already used, such as 'knee-jerk'. 

I'm not sure what is either bourgeois or hypocritical about referring viscerally, at what felt like a 
calamitous moment, to a general mass of predominantly bourgeois voters as fucking cunts, then 
suggesting a bit of general civility in one-to-one discussions. Actually, for all your dripping-with-
sincerity concern for my feelings, I'm fine thanks, id-kid. Again, you miss my main point, which was, in 
this instance, that for all your conventionally arty contempt for the idea of feeling in art, your reaction to 
Fucking Hell is full of it (I'm literally repeating myself now, but I don't know how much clearer I can 
make it), which seems all of a piece with the snickeringly sadistic tone of your responses. 

I realise in saying this that I risk seeming moralistic. Is there any point denying that I am - with 
reasons? I'll give it a go: All I'm trying to point out is that it's there whether you want it to be or 
theoretically countenance it or not. It's the perennial return of the repressed. For all your glib, slightly 
hysterical dismissiveness towards the idea, the feeling keeps coming back, apparently uncontrollably. 
It's splattered all over what you write like an embarrassing trouser stain. It looks something like rage. 

And why not indeed? It's not the rage I mind. It's the smug dishonesty about it and the wearyingly 
obligatory paddling in fragments of once trendy French theory, which you seem to use, in a hopeful 
way, as arguments ad ignorantum to deflect your critics rather than answer their points. It's the fact 
that all of this seems to be used, not just in your comments, but in general, to justify the fundamental 
failing in the Chapmans' work, which is: they DO make an appeal to feeling, but one that, for many of 
us, perpetually falls flat - and this falling flat can be perpetually justified on the grounds that appeals to 
feeling are naively sentimental. So, I think it's them (and you with your descriptions of their work 
as 'terrifying' and 'stomach-churning') making an appeal to feeling - and a naive one at that, that 
mostly involves just piling on the familiar comic book/mythic horror. 

I went back to your original review and I found it, in places, a recognisable description of how 
disturbing artworks affect me. Except for the empirical detail, I can't put it together with the 
Chapmans, but with a few tweaks it could work for:

Bataille and Bataille/Documents era Giacommetti
William Burroughs
Passolini's film, 'Pig Sty' 
Kathy Acker
Francis Bacon
and, perhaps most of all, Jean Luc Godard's film 'Weekend'. 

Oh well, there you go. I wasn't going to to let on, but that's the standard by which I measure the 
Chapmans. All of the above have presented me with material I found alien, threatening and hard to 
assimilate, especially the last.  But it's not just that the Chapmans fail to disturb me as much as these 
obvious poster-children for transgression. They don't even disturb me as much as the Japanese 
novelist Kenzaburo Oe, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, certain aspects of Kant, La Collectioneuse by Eric 
Rohmer (reviewed just a bit further down) or, to be really damning, the recent Morgan Freeman/Ben 
Affleck movie Changing Lanes (though this is, honestly, an absolutely excellent movie). By 
comparison to any of these, the Cs are just silly kidders. And no, not that funny either. 

All that said, full disclosure, no, I haven't seen the work in question. I just waded in a) because you 
were being such a little shit and b) I was interested in general issues about the Chapmans, which the 
argument was touching on. Gillette's right. The debate's interesting in a way their work almost never 
is. At least that means something about the failures of their work is interesting. But I'm curious now 
and, in the interest of keeping and open mind, I'll try and pop in and, uh, assimilate. 

all the best,
ye mere blip x

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