Re: anti-collector

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on March 23, 1999 at 09:50:32:

In Reply to: Re: anti-collector posted by R. John Howe on March 22, 1999 at 21:46:20:

: Michael -

: Only (although Ozick would not permit that word I think) that the relationships between human beings and venerated art objects can elevate such objects so that the relationship becomes dysfunctional for human beings. It would rehearse I think a species of the argument that I applied (or misapplied) to Katharine's original post, which seemed to me (perhaps incorrectly) to glorify the relationship between human beings and art unduly.

: I am particularly uncomfortable with phrases like "living through one's art."

: And I want to acknowledge the subtley visible in Katharine's thoughts but there is already some cheering from some about how her post has assuaged a feeling of guilt they had about the place of art in their world.

: Everyone needs, of course, to make such a decision for him/herself but I would prefer that we worry a little from time to time about this.

: Now some others clearly take a different position, Christopher Alexander, about whom I have, perhaps talked too much recently, says that people can see "the face of God" and images of their "most authentic selves" in rugs. This sounds rather closer to what Katharine has described.

: I do not want to strain at knats here, and I probably misinterpreted Benjamin, but I do not think the issue I raised is something simply to be passed off as an extreme rarity. It may not be modal but I suspect it happens more frequently than one might think.

: Regards,

: R. John Howe

Dear John:
I do not doubt it. Here's a different question. Would you be more comfortable with the phrase "living through one's children"? Maybe it is just human nature to elevate the things and the people who are around us and maybe at some level it becomes dysfunctional. Perhaps also up to a point it is a positive because in so doing we elevate, venerate and hold the thing or the person out as something larger than "me".
I think your caution and call for examination of this is wise, but a great rug (whether or not it is art -- I knew Art a long time ago, he was a window washer back in Madison) can also greatly enhance our life experience when it speaks to or through you. Perhaps it is this extraordinary experience in a more mundane day to day existence that collectors seek from the objects they collect.
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. MW

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