The Henry Flynt Special [Part III ART or BREND?]

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/18/2013

ART or BREND? – Henry A. Flynt, Jr.

[Flynt sketches out his concept of “brend.”]

4. There are experiences for each person which accomplish what art and entertainment fail to. The purpose of this essay is to make you aware of these experiences, by comparing and contrasting them with art. I have coined the term `brend’ for these experiences.

Consider all of your doings, what you already do. Exclude the gratifying of physiological needs, physically harmful activities, and competitive activities. Concentrate on spontaneous self-amusement or play. That, is concentrate on everything you do because you like it, because you just like it as you do it.

Actually, these doings should be referred to as your just-likings. In saying that somebody likes an art exhibit, it is appropriate to distinguish the art exhibit from his or her liking of it. But in the case of your just-likings, it is not appropriate to distinguish the objects valued from your valuings, and the single term that covers both should be used.

When you write with a pencil, you are rarely attentive to the fact that the pencil was produced by somebody other than yourself. You can use something produced by somebody else without thinking about it. In your just-likings, you never notice that things are not produced by you. The essence of a just-liking is that in it, you are not aware that the object you value is less personal to you than your very valuing.

These just-likings are your “brend.” Some of your dreams are brend; and some children’s play is brend (but formal children’s games aren’t). In a sense, though, the attempt to give interpersonal examples of brend is futile, because the end result is neutral things or actions, cut off from the valuing which gives them their only significance; and because the end result suggests that brend is a deliberate activity like carrying out orders. The only examples for you are your just-likings, and you have to guess them by directly applying the abstract definition.

Even though brend is defined exclusively in terms of what you like, it is not necessarily solitary. The definition simply recognizes that valuing is an act of individuals; that to counterpose the likes of the community to the likes of the individuals who make it up is an ideological deception.


5. It is now possible to say that much art and entertainment are pseudo-brend; that your brend is the total originality beyond art; that your brend is the absolute self-expression and the absolute enjoyment beyond art. Can brend, then, replace art, can it expand to fill the space now occupied by art and entertainment? To ask this question is to ask when utopia will arrive, when the barrier between work and leisure will be broken down, when work will be abolished. Rather than holding out utopian promises, it is better to give whoever can grasp it the realization that the experience beyond art already occurs in his or her life–but is totally suppressed by the general repressiveness of society.

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The Henry Flynt Special [Part II THE ART CONNECTION]

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/15/2013

THE ART CONNECTION: My endeavor’s intersections with art – Henry A. Flynt, Jr.

I can legitimately say that taking art as a the thematic axis for a chronicle of my work is not fair to the work. In the first place, from the beginning I was interested in the correlation of arts. I quickly graduated to “interdisciplinary projects” such as concept art, which had art as a precedent, but stemmed from my iconoclastic philosophy of 1960, and had outgrown art. To force my projects back into the art mold made it impossible to understand them.

From the outset, say 1958, the division of art, culture, into categories which became separate professions meant nothing to me. I simply disregarded the compartmentalization of culture, and assumed that I should pass freely among philosophy, exact science, linguistics, poetry, painting, music, whatever. Using each to illuminate the others and transferring methods from one to the other. My first “flat visual works” were precisely translations from serial music and so-called chance music. My poems also.

At some point in the first half of 1961, I completely lost interest in the “art professions,” music, painting, sculpture, poetry. My works at this time were “interdisciplinary projects” or out-of-category projects—which were shaped by my philosophical perspective, which I continued to refine throughout the spring. When I mailed Philosophy Proper, Version 3 to Carnap in 1961, he didn’t reply…

The artists whom I met through Young did not seem to be full-time artists. Only De Maria was already a “power artist”; I didn’t register it because in person he was affable and generous and because I had signed off on the art machine almost before I knew what it was. Morris, a student of Lippold at Hunter, explicitly condemned wanting to get rich and famous in a letter to Young. In other words, Morris nominally rejected the actual purpose of major public art, which is professional success. (The golden paintbrush.)

I become more and more uncomfortable that artists were offering things that intrinsically weren’t worth doing, whose only payoff was to leave the audience feeling baffled and frustrated. They were competing for social approval on that basis. They were making careers out of bluff, posture, hoodwinking the experts into giving approval for what nobody would do without the social context.

[Despite all the talk about new new new, the artistic fraternity could only deal with painting this, sculpture that. their inovation consisted in brandishing postures at each other for social effect. by definition they were intellectually vacant.

[it’s all posture, a game being played inside an elite institution, the self-important overpriviledged cognosenti, posture game or intimadation game. this cognoscenti does not have anything to say about philosophy, science, economics, government that I respect in the least.]

they were not seeking interdisciplinary or out-of-category innovation. Thus, the works which I poured myself into developing went utterly over their heads. drew a blank.

Substantial innovation, e.g. concept art, went over their heads.]

I passed from the mystique of the avant-garde to the conviction that art had a flawed premise. Cage had already said it, with a different rationale. But he didn’t mean it. [Later, Ben Vautier would deliberately use anti-art as a ploy, the collectors paid him to scam them.]

I became willing to forgo “participation.” I revived the utopianism of my cultural position. What ought to be was so far from what was socially feasible that there was no bridge between them. I chose to again emphasize what ought to be. It was a drop-out stance which combined utopian social speculation with solitary self-realization.

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The Henry Flynt Special [Part I – AGAINST “PARTICIPATION” A Total Critique of Culture]

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/12/2013

1998 thoughts for the next draft – Henry A. Flynt, Jr

[Thus begins a series of Henry Flynt postings – He is an outlier’s outlier. His concept of “brend” is woefully unknown/unappreciated (highlights of that later).]

Modern art is monumentally cognitively pretentious, as has been evident ever since Cubism. The preposterous mysticism of Malevich. Preposterous claims that evoking the idea of two-dimensional forms moving into three dimensions on the canvas alluded to our own movement in fourth-dimensional hyperspace. These metaphysical pretensions just get worse as we come up to the present.

Classical aesthetics was massively cognitively pretentious. I could only react to these pretensions with total contempt.

As a random example of avant-garde pretensions, one may consult George Brecht, “Something About Fluxus,” May 1964, unabridged version. He claims that the Fluxus school is defined by art or “activity” which is strange and new. But if we examine it with detachment, we see that there is nothing that intrinsically warrants being called strange or new. What Brecht means, described from a non-involved vantage-point, is that the works of his friends violate conventions of the context from which they spring–the gallery, the concert hall–by being diminutive and pointless. Whoop-de-doo!

From the Futurists to the Situationists, these artists were pictured contemporaneously and in hindsight as heroes, as “our leaders.” They indicted the old, they erected the new. They were slick enough to sell paintings that looked like puddles of vomit for a great deal of money, having proved that in the new time, there was no longer a distinction between the beautiful and the ugly. Thus, these shock troops of the new deserved our unconditional endorsement for their valiant stands. The words of their manifestos were like lightening bolts of truth in a murky age.

This phase of twentieth-century cultural history exposes the public as frightfully superficial and gullible. Somehow, the arbiters of taste were never bothered by the fact that the bottom line of the infinite revolution was a commerce in paintings – which were traditional product in every respect except that they were blatantly incompetent. (The artists who said “we had to do it to show how bad the world was” at least knew how bad their art was.)

Clearly, they never meant a word of it, about the infinite revolution. But it never bothered the pundits that artists were trifling with revolutionary claims and slogans. There was never a suggestion of holding the artists to account. It is shocking to realize how important posturing is in campaigning for social rewards. Somehow, it is implicitly understood that the “revolution” talk is fantasy; and it is palatable precisely because it changes nothing, precisely because it only gilds collectible objects. It was lying that brought the vanguard artists respect as heroes. The civilization has been carried up the mountain on the back of a lie. Are we to conclude that a white person is somebody who believes that saying ‘infinite revolution’ is an infinite revolution? [Liam Gillick anyone? – RS]

… Are people so stupid that they really believe that the Ramones will lead us to a perfect world, or even a universal revolution? Or does the audience know itself to be a privileged class which has long since agreed that all its joys will be lies?