Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Democracy or Fascism on the Blogosphere

A rising meme among blogosphere detractors is that, rather than democratic, its participants are actually fascist. This despite the fact that keeping the blogosphere open and unregulated is the one, and perhaps only, issue all bloggers of all political stripes and agendas agree on.

But the meme keeps rearing its head.

First there was Lee Siegel, whose charge that the Left on the blogosphere represented "hard fascism with a Microsoft face" came only briefly before
he was sacked from his blog job at The New Republic for being caught using sock puppets (a "sock puppet" is an alias that unscrupulous bloggers use to comment/defend their own writing, making it look as if the feedback is from someone else). More recently the disgraced Siegel (whose TNR posts you can't read anymore because his embarrassed publisher took them all down) came out with a book (Against the Machine) in which he compares bloggers to Stalin. As the amazing Hilzoy of Obsidian Wings noted:
I mean, in such a topsy-turvy world, why shouldn't my little blog posts be the
equivalent of sending millions off to die in the Gulag?
In our smaller subsection of the blogosphere, the art section, we have our own Lee Siegel: Cheesie Charlie, who is erupting all over himself again:
Thanks to the nitpicking morons of the art blogosphere, the Village Voice recently dismissed its art critic Christian Viveros-Faune due to his self-declared involvement with two art fairs. The foggy bloggies, who never tire of circle-jerking each other with praise in their dull, redundant musings, began to call for "regulating" critical speech like the blue-nosed cryptofascists they are, while ignoring the free market manipulations of the auction houses and blue chip galleries they love to suck up to.
You do have to begin to suspect he's only doing this because he loves our attention. Still, would it kill him to do a bit of research or self-reflection first? I mean, how the hell can anyone else suck up to the blue chip galleries with Mr. Finch's nose so far up the ass of certain power gallerists? Also, many a gigabyte has been consumed discussing the practices of auction houses on the blogosphere (at least here), as is obvious for anyone who knows how to use a search engine. And most importantly, no one called for "regulating critical speech." The call from one commenter was to regulate the art business, something I rejected. Still it provided a good excuse to have an open discussion of the pros and cons of what that might look like. You know, a public debate: the hallmark of a democracy.

But I wanted to flesh out the notion here that bloggers are fascists. It comes, I believe, from the ability of bloggers to get people fired or otherwise change their behavior. There are more well-known cases of this than CVF. As
Sarah Boxer recounts on her excellent exploration of blogs:
In 2004 the blogs Little Green Footballs and Power Line helped set Rathergate in motion when they spread the allegation that the memos Dan Rather presented on 60 Minutes II about President George W. Bush's Air National Guard duty were fakes. (Since then, a CBS panel investigating the matter has failed to prove that Rather's account of Bush's military career was substantially wrong,[2] and Rather has pressed a suit against CBS for "wrongful dismissal.")
What's at work here, I believe, is a new, extreme, immediate [and widespread] form of public pressure. Without its immediacy [or global nature] (i.e., if LGF and Powerline needed to wait until the next day to update their attacks [or only people in their home town read their rantings]) things would have moved more slowly, Rather might have had the elbow room to defend himself to his network, and he might still be sitting where Katie Couric squirms today. But because the attacks came fast and furious, he was forced to play catch up. He was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion before there was time for a fair hearing.

I'll be the first to admit this is problematic. But it's not fascist. It's the tyranny of the majority, which occurs frequently within democracies, but stems not from the direction/prodding of an elite leader or group (as is required in true fascism), but rather up from the groundswell of the mob. It's ugly, but it's not fascism. Oh, I know, Powerline and LGF are popular blogs and might constitute an "elite" to some people, but unlike in true fascism they have equally powerful opponents that keep them in check. Why they failed to stop Rathergate is a good question, but LGF et al. have been caught out in many other instances, just as have their opponents. So the system mostly works.

But that's what I suspect the Siegels and Finches begrudge about the blogosphere, its ability to serve as a check and balance on the previous monopoly held by pre-blog-era writers. In many respects, I get that. I put out my opinions and want them to be accepted, but sometimes others will vehemently disagree. Sometimes their disagreement is quite embarrassing for me, pisses me off, and makes me want to take revenge. Other times it makes me want to reflect, though, and there's no doubt that this open discourse has greatly widened my worldview. Opening minds is not one of the goals of fascism, regardless of how catchy a label that might seem to those who want control of what other people think.

UPDATE: The Boston Globe's arts blogger Geoff Edgers adds this note:

What's also strange - coming from me, apparently one of those bloggers who thought an art critic should understand the difference between reviewing exhibitions and organizing them - is this reference to the auction houses and galleries we all supposedly like to suck up to.

Isn't artnet a service that provides sales figures and basically charts the art market?

Labels: art blogs, art criticism


Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

There are days when I hate blogs so very, very much. And this is one of them. It just strikes me as so totally insane that anything on a blog could be taken even remotely seriously -- argh, it makes my head hurt. I really can't believe this is what the Internet has grown into. It's like finding out that that tiny pink baby, all adorable dimples and waving fingers and big eyes, has turned into a hulking, smelly, hairy adolescent who thinks about nothing but sex. It's just horrifying.

I'm pleased, by the way, that you ditched the fat joke and went instead with "Cheesie Charlie." Commendable of you.

1/29/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous t.whid said...

I'm against regulating critical speech except for when it comes from Charlie Finch.

1/29/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I think everything that comes out of Charlie should be regulated.

But I think everything that comes out of me should be regulated, too.

1/29/2008 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

I'm glad that we appear to have moved beyond the "Who's the next Hitler?" game - now that Saddam Hussein is gone, and the selling of that war went to badly. But then seeing a bunch of completely uneducated right-wingers tell everybody why now everybody they disagree with is a fascist (smearing your opponents in such a way of course is right out of Joseph Goebbels' play book), is getting old very quickly!

1/29/2008 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We might be Superman wannabees like Boxer suggests but we are not Hitler wannabees.

Charlie Finch

1/29/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Catherine Spaeth said...

Tyler Green, deeply engaged with the shape of the art world, spoke with conviction about his discovery, and the Voice listened. It is a powerful moment illustrating the need for clarity in an opaque and shady business.

But I thank you for leading this towards the issue of "perceived conflict of interest." The day after VV fired their writer, the NYT stood behind a political writer that a blogger had recently condemned for conflict, outlining very clearly their position in defense of her. But the criteria of the "actually lived" art world is a lot sloppier - indeed there is a shortage of ethics, and "perception," in the most superficial sense of the word, rules. I don't know the details of Viveros-Faune's involvements (though I'm sure that he should have at least withdrawn from his commercial curatorial posts), but I do find it interesting that the Voice would write that they stand behind his integrity and fire him nonetheless - this is not, in fact, a real position to have.

It is not that bloggers are fascists, but that the critical dialogue they invite is not yet available in the hegemonically hip public sphere. This is where the "tyranny of the majority" in fact lies. Blogs, limited to the scale of the "byte" screen, are really interesting for the tension that, in this case, appears between dialogical truth and actual byte.

1/29/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

two girls one cup. Lotz of lolz!

1/29/2008 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous J@simpleposie said...

Someone should tabulate the number of times CF has accused bloggers of circle jerking in various of his articles- maybe he's only said it a few times but it already sounds so old

1/29/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...

I find it hilariously ironic that Finch refers to the circle jerk nature of the art blogosphere when he and Walter Robinson practice the act on a regular basis with their commentary regarding art blogs. And I mean "act" in both ways. It's so Abbott & Costello, the TV years. Desperate and clueless and, well, not very entertaining. At any rate, it's become too boring to even bother reading what either of them say anytime they open their sad, old (I'm not talking age here. I'm talking ideas.) mouths about the blogs. A casual swipe at the surface of their practiced blatherings consistently reveals an ocean bed of fear slowly filling with the product of their obvious and desperate territorial pissings. I, for one, won't be taking a dip in their little yellow sea.

1/29/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Being a bitch and being a fascist should not be confused.

1/29/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Media recognition

Many in the media have taken the video's popularity as a sign of society's declining morals.[1][2] The video was featured on VH1's Best Week Ever, where the video's existence and propagation was declared to cause "Moral Bankruptcy" to have the "Best Week Ever!"[12]

I need this parsed by a sociologist.

Thank you.

1/29/2008 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous bnon said...

Accusations of "fascism" may miss the mark, but they capture something, I think. I personally find it distasteful when a blogger seems to gun for someone in the artworld or elsewhere for no other reason than the resulting publicity and self-aggrandizement of a sucessful attack. The rest of the typical criticisms--basically that blogs don't live up to the standards of professional journalism--seem to miss the point, which is to participate in something small that feels personal and responsive compared to a magazine or newspaper.

1/29/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger joy said...

Does Charlie Finch merit a response? As has been noted here before, artnet's been around a long time, but its functionality is static; on the one hand it doesn't quite hew to the stringent "journalistic standards" of print media, yet on the other hand it doesn't command the ubiquity and immediacy of a blog either. Sure, if artnet had a feed or two, it could function as a blog, (or even as the NYTimes online) and as usual, bloggers could decide which of its columnists' feeds to subscribe to; Charlie's hot air might be sidelined along with a lot of other empty screed not worth aggregating such as Little Green Footballs, etc. etc.

But I'm getting far away from the main point here, which is that the immediacy with which blogs send out information as well as their capacity to network a far-flung or disenfranchized community, makes them powerful in the hands of ordinary human beings (as opposed to Big Media), hence they are by definition democratic. There are too many instances of blogs used as effective grass roots tools to mention here. So: Mr. Finch not only doesn't do his homework, he doesn't really care to: he's not serious about anything except maybe yanking people's chains. So guys: why are you letting him jerk you around when he isn't in the least bit interested in the discussion?

1/29/2008 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous J@simpleposie said...

Hey, heart as arena:

Your comment reminds me of a sign my dad got and hung on the fence beside the backyard swim pool. It said, "We don't swim in your toilet, so please don't pee in our pool"

1/29/2008 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Heart As Arena said...

J: Always happy to inspire pee-in-the-pool memories.

Joy: I'm glad you said that. I was really hoping for a resounding silence this morning when I made my daily visit to the art blogs. That would have been the best response. HOWEVER, I do think that this time 'round the response is significantly less than last time Chuck went a-yankin'. It's a process.

1/29/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

If you Do what they say -
One thing leads to another
You tell me something wrong, I know I listen but at some point I'll get the gist of it. But then one thing leads to another and I wonder what the overall "critical mass" of it all is supposed to be? More of the same? One man one bicycle? Feed the furnaces bitchez!

1/29/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I actually didn't want this to be about Charlie, per se, which is why I kept my insults to a minimum (fun as they are), but rather the notion gaining ground that the blogosphere is fascist. It's a lazy assessment, but that term is still powerful enough to possibly lead to more feverent calls for regluation, which I don't want.

1/29/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

(a "sock puppet" is an alias that unscrupulous bloggers use to comment/defend their own writing, making it look as if the feedback is from someone else)

Oh! I thought was that it was something like a blow-up doll, but for someone on a budget. That's why I tune in here, EW. Where else would I learn these things?

1/29/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Lee Siegelpuppet and Charlie "Bull" Finch so want a piece of this action. As someone who has been called a fascist often enough to merit writing a program that generates a canned response, I recognize that the epithet signals that the perpetrator has run out of ideas. In the case of these two writers, the rest of their oevure reinforces that diagnosis.

1/29/2008 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous t.whid said...

Ed said: "[...] but rather the notion gaining ground that the blogosphere is fascist."

I have some seen some disturbing examples of mob-like behavior organized from blogs or other forums. (This is a good example.)

Sometimes innocent people are injured by ill-informed and aggressive on-line crowds. It's just a fact. People can be assholes. Crowds of assholes are called mobs.

Is this "fascist" or simply the contemporary version of peasants with pitchforks? Of course labeling it fascist is just silly. The question is what should be done about it? The benefits of freedom of speech far outweigh the hazards. Fight speech with speech!

1/29/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

Sorry Ed, I didn't mean you were "falling for the Finch" as it were, but I could sort of sense the possibility in the air. I also want to say somewhere for the record: the beauty of networking immediacy and efficacy notwithstanding, I am not happy with what happened to Christian V-F as a result of the bloggers' court. Conflict of interest or no, there was something not quite right about the whole thing (and I guess, in truth, this is what Finch was riled at, but he expresses himself so poorly). The VV / V-F thing demonstrates not only the effectiveness of this medium, but the imbalance it can create, which is part of what you were getting at by "tyranny of the majority". There's a real disconnect between digestion/reflection of information and reactiveness -- there's no obstacle to hitting "send" except self-restraint. This impulse needs to be reigned-in at times, leavened by even more careful reflection than in the past. But we're impulsive, impatient, and suffer from cultural ADD. Careful thought is hardly the m.o. of an activated mob/community; it's definitely something to strive for.

1/29/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

PS: self-restraint ("regulation") does not equal self-censorship.

1/29/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear! Two in a row! Thank you...

That's why I never left.

BTW, there are more than a few CF's and CVF's out there and we will catch them!

1/29/2008 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Ok people keep your pitchforks. If you are going to raid Sotheby's maybe Phillips de prury might be easier - their low walls and bad acoustics will make it easier to take.

Sotheby's has the ark of the covenant and some curatorial ring wraiths, so maybe sokmeone should build a golem.

It wants it! my precious!

1/29/2008 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous JL said...

I am not happy with what happened to Christian V-F as a result of the bloggers' court.

I personally didn't see bloggers per se as causing what happened. I know MAN first raised the issue and that a number of blogs then wrote about it, almost all viewing the situation negatively. But if the Voice really didn't think there was a problem with his activities, I can't help but think they'd have been cowed by a bunch of posts from random people, especially given the relatively low number of art blog readers. This isn't the political world, where the big blogs have tens if not hundreds of thousands of readers and the mobilization of and responsiveness to public opinion is the name of the game. To the extent that the blogs hurt it was mostly because the people writing many of them were fellow journalists and thus they validated the criticism. Viveros-Faune didn't leave the Voice because of activists, that is, but because of his peers.

1/29/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

I still think it's disappointing. Christian is a great guy who has CREATED something, mainly a fantastic gallery which has nurtured the careers of Brooklyn scruffs and brought them deservedly to greater attention and acclaim. I loved his writing in the Voice and he can ACTUALLY write. Tyler CAN'T write. Say what you want about Charlie but he can turn a phrase and be interesting. God, help us from the whiny "nerdification" of things that Tyler foreshadows.

1/29/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think whether Christian or Tyler or Charlie "can write" is the point.


1/29/2008 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

I think it's TOTALLY the point. We are talking about the "Vanity Fair" of trafficking in paintings, drawings, poems, abstract videos, and other aesthetic gestures. We are talking about talented presented for "a-musement". The ARTWOLD is a circuit of Playboys, merchants, deviants, hobbyists, geniuses, Royalty etc tradeing in beauty and intellectual play. The Village Voice has lost one of it's better talents because of some "talent-less" twerps complaint.

1/29/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

sorry "talent, presented for a-musement" ie contemplation.

1/29/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Are bloggers writers? I think we have to clarify that because if bloggers aren't writers then they can;t be critics really, or reporters - and its a slippery slope intot he sand box from there.

Did CVF have a blzog? I bet he read blogz. I bet you a lot of money. Maybe 100 dollars. And he can take his Robling hall for little yalies and take his cod liver oil, because we all swimmin inna sea of da hipocritic oathz. Cept meez, lol. I'm going to go on Maury Povitch and find out if duchamp is my real dad or not! SO citing!

And CF as much as admitted he reads blogs (n3rd!), though as Winkleman points out, not very closely or at least not much out of his own ass crack.

Tyler is a bit windy - don't dig that conversational and nerdy yet authoritative voice (nerd!), come to think of it its the same voice as WInkleman. Wat you want for free? he says. I say, I want my fifteen minutes back.

or Descartes said - pearls before swine. Just trying to educate you people, so hard, me so high above you and all. Indeed, the canopy of peer group foliage makes this jolly green giant wonder what happen when a tree falls quietly below.

1/29/2008 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Whether someone is a talented critic has to be the point, I agree. There can be complications after that, but until we have a baseline of quality, who even cares?

Tyler is a bit windy - don't dig that conversational and nerdy yet authoritative voice (nerd!), come to think of it its the same voice as WInkleman. Wat you want for free? he says. I say, I want my fifteen minutes back.

You're pushing hard for that Irony King crown, aren't you Zip?

1/29/2008 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger Franklin said...

God, help us from the whiny "nerdification" of things that Tyler foreshadows.

I have a theory that a certain kind of person gravitates towards contemporary art because he lacks the intelligence to produce fiction and the discipline to play in a band.

Anyway, I have an idea - how about replacing Charlie Finch with Christian Viveros-Faune over at Artnet? I see that as a win for everybody: Artnet has no journalistic integrity to compromise, CVF would get a regular writing gig again, and Finch could turn to blogging, which frankly would suit his error-prone trolling better than the traditional essay format.

1/29/2008 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you are finally laying all of your cards on the table 'christopherlee'.

1/29/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

and at least you are staying "anonymous".

1/29/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good idea Franklin. Critics must be mentally and psychologically prepared to deal with criticism. That is the sea they have chosen to swim in. Finch needs to get over it. It is helpful to remember the definition of the word fascism (a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition) when reactionaries toss the word about. Referring to a dictionary once in a while helps deflate the portentous effluvium of the intellectual class.


1/29/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/29/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Boom! Yeah CVF and his antagonistic critical stance entertained me, what Iread anyways, but talented? C'mnon I got more backhand than that dude by a factor of MacEnroe - or was that the editor's fault? I know Peter Scheldahl can light it up when he's not wearing his New Yorker Hairshirt - wish he'd blog but where is the profit motive?

Nope, Charlie gets PAID and that's why we go mirv on bullshit (or ignore it and hope it goes away)- the VV used to be a good newspaper and aparently they still care.

I have a theory that writers are just frustrated truck drivers.


1/29/2008 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

What's Hall Monitor Green going to tackle next? Steroids in the Artwold?

1/29/2008 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous stinky said...

The attacks on bloggers sound a bit like Godwin's Law in action.


Which means desperation on the part of the attacking participant in the argument.

1/29/2008 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know wtf zip is talking about half the time, so it's hard to read through his comments and incorporate them into the conversation. How about some minimal standards of literacy for commenters?


1/29/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Unfortunately for Finch, boobieobsessedhack.blogspot.com is kind of hard to type.

Ethan removed the post I was about to respond to, but I just wanted to say that Tyler can write just fine, of course, and that I will out-nerd anyone in the artblogosphere. I became a nerd before it won cultural cachet, back when it meant painful social awkwardness and girlfriend-repelling hobbies. So if you're going after nerdiness, you're coming through me first. That means you, christopherlee and zip.

1/29/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but Fascism is idological and one can't be excluded from being fascist simply because his/her power isn't absolute.
i think the more important issue is how utterly shallow 98% of the blogs are.
Not to mention (in the Case of Dan Rather) that bloggers aren't held accountable for their masturbatory musings; they can say anything they like without having to back it up (in the case of much political blogging) or unpack their "ideas" (as is the case with art blogs).
this is the standard in the neoliberal world: everyone can state their position, but few are inclined to do it with any amount of discipline let alone rigor and scholarship. the lowest common denominator is celebrated.

1/29/2008 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

Bring it Franklin! Bet you were a trekkie too ! :)

1/29/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Fascism is idological and one can't be excluded from being fascist simply because his/her power isn't absolute.

That's a fair point, but it doesn't account, if used to suggests bloggers are fascist, for the fact that bloggers overwhelmingly support an open and unregulated blogosphere, something ideological fascists would never do, no?

bloggers aren't held accountable for their masturbatory musings

Not at all true. Bloggers with sponsors have lost them because of missteps. Siegel himself lost his job because of one.

And for bloggers without sponsors, the ones paid in hits or traffic, being sloppy without some other added value, costs you readers, the only currency that counts in the blogosphere ultimately.

this is the standard in the neoliberal world: everyone can state their position, but few are inclined to do it with any amount of discipline let alone rigor and scholarship. the lowest common denominator is celebrated.

is it irony day and no one told me?

I've just argued, successfully I think (like I'm prone to do, mind you), that your argument is lacking in rigor or scholarship, yet here you are offering it as a counterpoint to my general point on the value of blogs. Either you're attempting to demonstrate your own point via example (and should have told us), or you're in need of the same medicine you're prescribing.

1/29/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Sorry about the removed comment! :)

1/29/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what did the removed comment say?

1/29/2008 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

hey, 1/29/2008 03:03:00 PM


I wack you with my shillelagh!
I got 100 hit points and a cloak of protection
When I get critical I got an erection
Christian, hes a hack
thinks he know history but its just wack
Received wisdom made out of mud
Piss shit vineagar I got a shillelagh!
Thats C-L-U-B
you wont understand
insider teaching is like the rub
Down for the count you got nothin
criticize me you get the clubbin

hu hu hu hu
god I am good.

1/29/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ethan said...

Saying would ruined the point of removing it, would it?

Really, it was just another go around on Contemporary Art: worthwhile or no. A conversation that's a bit old, so I thought better of digging into it again.

1/29/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wasn't attempting to make a difinitive argument; i was making a caual observation. if its an uneducated one, i am willing to admit it; i am not up on the blog world news. but ad hominem remarks are just childish.

please tell me then, why someone starts a blog to begin with? i know i'm asking for a generalization, but...

1/29/2008 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Franklin sez:
I have a theory that a certain kind of person gravitates towards contemporary art because he lacks the intelligence to produce fiction and the discipline to play in a band.

Damn, Franklin, you nailed me with that one.

You may be nerdier than I am, but my wife is nerdier than your wife. I think we win.

1/29/2008 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris, that's kind of rude. I think you should leave it up to the Dawns whether they want to compete in the nerdolympics.

1/29/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


my apologies if that came off as too ad hominem. It wasn't meant to...I was shooting for more "bloggy-ish snarky."

I seem to have conflated your statement about the world in general with the blogosphere, though, I see, for which I again apologize.

please tell me then, why someone starts a blog to begin with? i know i'm asking for a generalization, but...

The beautiful thing about the answer to that is the reasons vary as much as the bloggers do. The only common thread I've ever been able to identify is the desire/willingness to communicate with others beyond one's own immediate circle, which is a prerequisite for democracy to work, and not at all a fascist tendency, IMO.

1/29/2008 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

Plus the drinks are cheaper. (coffee)

1/29/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

Just what rubs me the wrong way about the tone of Tyler's blog is it's spirit of "anhedonia". I love "artnet" because it celebrates the whole ridiculous and gratuitous sprawl of it all, from Brooklyn, to Beverly Hills, to Christie's to astrological predictions and candid photos of openings. I LOVE THAT. and people LOVE it. There's very little of the JOY of creativity itself with Tyler. Just a "nerdy and tedious" cataloguing and cut and paste.

1/29/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i mean Jolt. (I win!)

1/29/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous benito said...

"A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion." [Robert O. Paxton, "The Anatomy of Fascism," 2004]

1/29/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Artnet covers such a narrow range of the art world that its obvious. Like seeding the audience of 10 with eight shills. Or dressing up the secret service in ipod headphones (they used to anyways) Thing is, not everyone can hear the voices, or "poetry" so I dont blame em if they like the game for the stats - not everyone can go to the superbowl you know?

Me I get sick of the "bohemian fog" and like to :get real" on occasion - but the landscape is lunar right now, so I;m in retrograde.

Don't fear the reaper.

1/29/2008 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I sometimes think zippy is an A.I. who was just shy of the technological singularity but then injected with a virus right before he gained self-awareness by his desperate inventor, and he's now damned to spending eternity searching the Internet for that missing piece of data that will set him free. He dips in and out of every site, looking and longing, and blog comments are merely the digital vapor trails of his tireless lonely journey.

Either that or he really should consider decaf.

1/29/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

zipthwung..you should read Donald Kuspit's "The Trouble with Youth", your "incomprehensibility" is paradigmatic. I like your site though.

1/29/2008 04:15:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

A much younger me would have fallen head-first for zippy (and possibly did... hmmm...)

1/29/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger joy said...

ok, I retract that last shocking remark.

1/29/2008 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

museums, cemeteries!

1/29/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

To return to the topic though. I think Charlie is being heavy handed of course, but the facts of this particular situation is that the VV has lost a good writer and a good, relevant fit in terms of a bridge to the Williamsburg Chelsea dynamic of the gay nineties to the present. M.A.N. is NOT a part of ANYTHING creative and in this particular case he can only report on a destructive achievement.

1/29/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I dislike Charlie Finch immensely, so I generally don’t read his column. However since Ed linked it, I did, and in general I almost do not disagree with his opinion. I have a problem with the global use of the word "bloggers," as we were all moving in sync, like a swarm of fish or flock of birds.

On the other hand, I also feel that the dismissal of the Village Voice art critic Christian Viveros-Faune was a unfortunate event for the art community. If I had to choose between Tyler and Christian, well I’d throw Tyler to the lions. It isn’t the first time Tyler has performed such a dissection in the critical arena, to my mind he’s a bit of a megalomaniac wielding gossip as a sword.

From the earlier rounds on this story, I feel that many readers expect the "appearance of ethical purity" from the members of the art community, something which is in a broad sense difficult to define and achieve. I am opposed to unethical behavior, such as the west coast critic who was extorting art for reviews. On the other hand in the real world, under just about any circumstances, a large number of decisions are made which are partly based on, or influenced by personal relationships, by the network part of ‘networking.’

By overly focusing on the web of relationships of the writer, the reader is tacitly admitting that they cannot comprehend the subject. For if they could, they would just agree or disagree with the critical proposal and any bias by the author will be apparent. In my opinion it is not wrong that a critical writer is biased, or focused upon a particular group within the art community, as long as it is done openly.

To my mind, it is a plus when a critical writer or curator or both, has an opinion, a bias which they are willing to support and defend. If I disagree I can write an opposing opinion to the critical points, then there are two opinions for readers to digest, rather than all this PC whining that has been going on.

1/29/2008 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous sharon said...

To anonymous--

please tell me then, why someone starts a blog to begin with?

Why do you read them?

Wouldn't the answer to both questions be the same--to participate in a conversation?

Perhaps I'm missing something but it seems to me authors of web-based journals simply have to take responsibility for what/how they write as much as anyone else who writes; the only difference is the method of delivery.

1/29/2008 06:06:00 PM  
Anonymous stinky said...

Charlie's article is bombastic and over-blown and intentionally seems to want to confuse the issue of freedom of speech with that of conflict of interest and journalistic ethics. Of course the real world is full of instances of people abusing or using their influence or connections for power. But does that mean we just throw out ethical considerations in journalism entirely? Then their really would be no way to tell what was fact or fiction in print. Doesn't that just encourage more ridiculous and outrageous versions of this behavior? If we were discussing a politician or a corporation using the press this way, wouldn't there be anger and general snarky abuse?

As far as the general bloggo-fascist meme goes, isn't it enough to say that on these threads there is a fair amount of disagreement and that no one group has a monopoly on the ideas presented? Both sides have a chance to have it out [unlike in an article or a review.]

1/29/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

It isn’t the first time Tyler has performed such a dissection in the critical arena, to my mind he’s a bit of a megalomaniac wielding gossip as a sword.

What gossip? Tyler got his facts right, confirmed them, reported them, and pointed out correctly that CVF's activities put him in a classic conflict of interest as defined by the profession of journalism, in which Tyler is trained. To characterize a fact-wielding reporter as a gossip-wielding megalomaniac is just a disgusting bit of ad hominem.

1/29/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Yeah cranklin has the bran muffin right there. Eat it or dont.

what was the topic again?

I don't care how creative you are, no critic worth their salt should be seen hugging an artist.

I mean get real. Critics are sandpaper to the ass and thats the way the game is played. Anything else is namby-pamby bullshit. No horns, no dilema. No mercy. Leave the feel good patchouli oil to the west coast.

1/29/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Anonymous stinky said...

Yes, and since we are in the bloggo-fasci-sphere we don't wear no patchouli.

1/29/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

F. I disagree, but I don't read MAN that often so I don't really care enough to debate it further.

However, in my opinion, the fact that two critics resigned their positions is a greater loss for the art community than any implied cross pollination in their efforts. This is a new era, the art world is larger than it has ever been before. It needs more than a or handful of critics, it needs writers that disagree with one another, and venues for their writing. In art there are no ideas that are absolutes, everything is open to debate. So to my mind, criticism nurtured by experience and immersion within the art community, will either be convincing or not. If it’s not, then some other critical writer will take it on, but for that to occur there has to be a venue that people know about. I’m sure the future of critical art writing will be on the web and not print, so this is a start.

1/29/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You tell them Franklin! Zip!

As far as I am concern, Kangas, CF and CVF give a bad name to the art world. Period.

Perhaps, what you people need is a NYT front page stating all the facts and a mention of how very little everybody is concerned about the conflicts or thinks about it. Oh yes, Bush is the devil but in our small art corner of the world we allow all kinds of Halliburtons. Yes, because he is one of us. Nonsense.

1/29/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Anon sez:
Chris, that's kind of rude. I think you should leave it up to the Dawns whether they want to compete in the nerdolympics.

My Dawn is certainly okay with it. We'll have to check with Franklin's.

1/29/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon @ 07:37:00 PM

With regards to Christian Viveros-Faune, how?

1/29/2008 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

george are you being facetious?

This is not the free wheeling fifties of CF's candy striped brooks brothers past.

There is no wiggle room here. Its not a nitpick, its accepted that journalists, write or wrong, are not allowed to double dip. Period.

And there are plenty of talented, qualified people out ther who would love to work at the VV, I just know it in my heart.

CVF gives love a bad name. Bad Name.

1/29/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger christopherlee said...

how would one "run" a "nerd-olympics"?

1/29/2008 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


Absoluto mundo correcto.

Next step for him is writing catalogue essays and articles for the glossy magazines. That's where the meat is and no one cares.

1/29/2008 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Staff Brandl said...

Edward, not only are these (very often American, not European) applications of the word "fascist" lazy, they are definitionally wrong and dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that the term becomes drained of all its REAL meaning and becomes simply a substitute for for bully, or mobbing or bitching or whatever. Finch has some good points in that article, but that term so used is simplistic rabble-rousing and an insult to those who lived through real fascism. I was discussing on a blog not long ago when someone was unsure about the truth of my comment pointing out that fascists were politically far right-wing. When even the most basic contents of words are unknown due to overuse --- well, it worries me that such important concepts, and especially here, names of dangerous tendencies, become robbed of meaning.

1/30/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I think most people understand the use of the word facscit now simply as a synonym for totalitarianism. I dont nitpick that because there isn't any single definition of fascism. It's an oversimplification a semantic gloss. The Nazis had an occult wing of Nordic druids or something, I don't know.

Talk specifics.

Like is the US a true democracy? Look it up. No it is not.

Finch doesn't erode anything for me because I don't go past the connotations of totalitarianism.

What's more interesting is the crypto- prefix.

What and how is the blogosphere hiding it's totalitarian tendencies? What's so disingenuous ? What's the ulterior motive?

The mindset that sees boogiemen in the blogosphere is the kind of reactionary sentiment that one would expect from a vested interest in blue chip "values."

I bet Finch knows who let 9-11 happen and how the election will get fixed. I'll leave it up to him to leave a trail of crumbs for me to get lost lunching on.

1/30/2008 04:25:00 PM  

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