Spats and Such for a Snowy Wednesday : Or, the Long, Long Memory of the Internets
Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.A new snowfall, like the one blanketing New York this morning, tends to bring a sense of calm reflection (unless you're driving in it, perhaps).
---James Joyce, "The Dead," from The Dubliners
Reflection seems to be the sentiment of the week throughout the country, as the nation comes to terms with the shooting in Arizona; politicians slow down to reconsider the wisdom of the resulting political spats (including a more somber Sarah Palin*, who still incredulously lectured the rest of the country on how to behave [without irony]), and even the acknowledgment over at Fox News that perhaps it is time to bring the rhetoric down a few notches.
But just about the time I get all comfy with my cocoa, I stumble upon another art writers spat (that now seems to have calmed down, but not without first opening up some seemingly long-simmering tensions). I've already gone on ad nauseum about how much I respect both these writers, so I'll spare you the caveats and get right to their public disagreement:
Monday Tyler Green published a post critiquing Jerry Saltz's New York Magazine piece on the "The Greatest [New York] Artwork." I had read Jerry's piece and found it entertaining and thought-provoking, but Tyler found it problematic:
Critics typically don’t like it when their editors make up a silly rubric and then demand that the critic find something that fits within it. That’s the game at New York mag this week, where the magazine is featuring a January-is-slow bit of silliness called “The Greatest New York Ever.”Jerry responded with a Facebook post that he subsequently decided wasn't the way to go. Jerry later wrote:
Naturally, New York art critic Jerry Saltz was expected to play along. A mention in Saltz’s write-up rings false and merits a bit of consideration: “Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 is an image of what New York felt, looked, and sounded like in 1950,” Saltz wrote. [Image at right, collection of the Museum of Modern Art.]
Fortunately, Saltz drove by the Pollock on his way to naming a Robert Moses-commissioned model the greatest New York something-or-other ever (and he mentions lots of other artists whose works would be good choices), but still… One?
In 1950, Pollock was doing most of his looking and listening far from New York City. By the time he made One, Pollock had lived outside New York City for five years. (In 1945 he married Lee Krasner and moved to Springs, Long Island.) I could find no historical record that Pollock thought One — or any of the magnificent drip paintings he made as a near-series in 1950 — had anything to do with New York City. I could find no critical response to the painting (which was shown with the others in late November, 1950 at Betty Parsons Gallery) that suggested there was anything particularly NYC about them. Sure, MoMA chief curator Ann Temkin included the painting in MoMA’s recent exhibition “Abstract Expressionist New York,” but that show is notable in part for playing fast-and-very-loose with geography. That’s about as close as One gets to being “in” New York City.
An hour ago I posted a haggling peevish “note” about an art-blogger from Wash. DC named Tyler Green. I realize now I don’t have the stomach for stuff like this. I deleted it. I love that people can & do write anything they want about anything or anybody (including me). I do it too. I just can’t get into one of these feuds. I think that’s it; hey, it’s 1-11-11 so maybe that’s what got into me.The thing is, like old soldiers, old Internet posts never truly die, they are simply cached somewhere. Tyler found it and posted it on the thread of his critique of Jerry's post:
Jerry Saltz replied here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhastings/5346661991/sizes/o/in/photostream/Now, the Lord knows that I have found myself wishing I could take back some comment or even post I put out there. I still cringe when someone mentions a certain site I let get the better of me a few years ago. But I know my red-headed Irish-German temper well enough now to know I'll do it again. It's simply my nature. So I deal with it as best I can.
As for Jerry and Tyler, I do wish they'd find themselves stuck in an airport together through a long snow storm, share a few beers, and realize that they actually have much more in common than they realize. Perhaps then Tyler wouldn't seize on every single opportunity to point out how New York City isn't the only place in the world people make or discuss art, and Jerry wouldn't be so red-headed-Irish-German (is he any of those things? No? So what's his excuse?) and so quick to take the bait.
And now, with my daily pontificating out of the way...I return to my cocoa....
*Update: Ok, so I stand corrected. No reflection apparent there.