2015年6月4日 星期四

MODERNISM:The Lure of Heresy From Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond.




書市小感:2015.6.4
我90年代初,喜歡從香港買壹傳媒出版的書,如張五常文集等,送給朋友。當時認為香港出版技術領先台灣約10年。妙的是,他們來台灣竟然不出書,連黎老闆的書都委外出版,寄人籬下。可見出版業的基礎建設很難移植。

今天感受到美國大出版公司也是精益求精:
午後4點多到書林去看Peter Gay (PG) 的Modernism 等書,台灣出版社"立緒文化"拿掉太多圖片,完全無彩色圖片....注解編號採阿拉伯數1.....593?。總之,台灣出版社水準待提升 (可憐,我們規模是美方的1/100。




MODERNISM

The Lure of Heresy From Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond.
By Peter Gay.
Illustrated. 610 pp. W. W. Norton & Company. $35.



Modernism : the lure of heresy : from Baudelaire to Beckett and beyond / Peter Gay.

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AVAILABLE - Schwarzman Building (42nd Street & 5th Avenue) - Art - JQE 08-643 - USE IN LIBRARY


More Details
Edition 1st ed.
Description xxii, 610 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (p. [511]-563) and index.
Contents A climate for modernism -- Professional outsiders -- Irreconcilables and impresarios -- Painting and sculpture : the madness of the unexpected -- Prose and poetry : intermittences of the heart -- Music and dance : the liberation of sound -- Architecture and design : machinery, a new factor in human affairs -- Drama and movies : the human element -- Eccentrics and barbarians -- Life after death? -- Coda : And Gehry at Bilbao.
Summary Historian Gay explores the modernist rebellion that, beginning in the 1840s, transformed art, literature, music, and film with its assault on traditional forms. Beginning his epic study with Baudelaire, whose lurid poetry scandalized French stalwarts, Gay traces the revolutionary path of modernism from its Parisian origins to its emergence as the dominant cultural movement in world capitals such as Berlin and New York. This book presents a pageant of heretics that includes (among others) Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, and D. W. Griffith; James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot; Walter Gropius, Arnold Schoenberg, and (of course!) Andy Warhol. Finally, Gay examines the hostility of totalitarian regimes to modernist freedom and the role of Pop Art in sounding the death knell of a movement that dominated Western culture for 120 years.--From publisher description.
Subject Modernism (Art)
Arts, Modern -- 19th century.
Arts, Modern -- 20th century.
ISBN 9780393052053 (hardcover : alk. paper)
0393052052 (hardcover : alk. paper)
Research Call Number JQE


Books Of the Times

Gleefully Upsetting the Artistic Apple Cart

By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: November 21, 2007

Spoiler alert: The hero dies at the end, but shed no tears. Modernism, the artistic revolution that began with the poetry of Charles Baudelaire in the 1840s and quietly expired in the 1960s with Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, enjoyed “a good long run.” So Peter Gay concludes in the final sentence of “Modernism: The Lure of Heresy From Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond,” his sweeping survey of the poets, playwrights, painters and architects who set out to rewrite the rules of art, transform consciousness and, wherever and whenever possible, shock the complacent middle class.


Janet Malcolm/W. W. Norton
Peter Gay

MODERNISM

The Lure of Heresy From Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond
By Peter Gay
Illustrated. 610 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $35.


Actually, Mr. Gay points out, that complacency has been greatly exaggerated. All revolutions require an enemy. The Modernists found theirs in the bourgeoisie, a fat, convenient target but also a source of support and encouragement. Enlightened curators, like Alfred Lichtwark at the Hamburg Kunsthalle, and art dealers like Paul Durand-Ruel in Paris, helped prepare the ground for the eventual victory of Modernism’s disorganized troops.
“Businessmen of culture offered and sold artistic products, whether dramas, drawings or volumes of poetry, and with the same gesture advanced the aesthetic cultivation of the buying public,” Mr. Gay writes. The road was long and difficult, but never quite as lonely as the artists themselves often saw it. Their isolation, was, in part, a self- created myth. “If my work is accepted,” John Cage once said, “I must move on to the point where it is not.”
Mr. Gay, the eminent historian of the European Enlightenment, Weimar culture and Sigmund Freud, has spent the greater part of the 1980s and ’90s chronicling the sensibility and cultural life of the Victorian middle class in his five-volume series, “The Bourgeois Experience.” It makes some sense, then, that he should now turn to the artistic avant-garde dedicated to pulling the rug from under the oppressive father figures of the 19th century. Otherwise it is hard to locate the motivation for yet another general work on a movement whose every breath and gesture has been subjected to minute study by legions of historians.
Mr. Gay adds little new in what amounts to a college survey course. A graceful writer, he leads the reader on a pleasant ramble through a well-traveled landscape, pointing right and left to the prominent features along the way and, like a superbly informed guide, offers his thoughts and comments. From seminal figures like Baudelaire and Flaubert, he moves right along to the Impressionists and then, taking the various art forms in turn, advances chronologically through the great debacle wrought by fascism and World War II before wrapping up with such postwar phenomena as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.
He has a thesis. Modernism, he argues, was propelled by two main impulses: the urge to overturn established hierarchies and break rules — this is what he means by “the lure of heresy” — and a compulsion to explore the artist’s interior world. These primal drives produced “a single aesthetic mind-set,” a “climate of thought, feeling and opinion,” unifying what might appear to be a scattering of disconnected artistic revolts.
Armed with this pair of organizing principles, Mr. Gay sets forth down his well-traveled highway. Prodigiously well informed, he covers a broad expanse of ground quickly, touching on most of the major figures but also bringing in lesser names, like the German playwright Georg Kaiser, who make the great galaxy of Modernism twinkle a little more brightly. Smart bits of description (the Guggenheim Museum as a fat white oyster) and well-chosen anecdotes speed the narrative merrily along, but rarely does Mr. Gay heed the greatest Modernist injunction, attributed to Sergei Diaghilev: “Astonish me!”
Mr. Gay’s enthusiasms and his insights are unevenly distributed. On painting, especially 19th-century painting, he rarely rises above banality. Edvard Munch, a second-rater by most estimations, gets promoted to the first rank, largely because his psychological obsessions dovetail with Mr. Gay’s Freudianism.
Literature, music and architecture, especially the pioneering architectural and design work of the Bauhaus movement, bring out his most insightful writing. Mr. Gay, in the chapter “Eccentrics and Barbarians,” takes a bit of a detour to profile wayward figures like Charles Ives and Knut Hamsun, the “anti-modern modernists.” These are the most engaging pages in the book, offering shrewd analyses that reveal how easily Modernism could embrace retrograde political thinkers and the seeming paradox, in the case of Ives, of an artistic revolutionary and small-town philistine inhabiting the same man.
The Freudian tinge lends a distinctive coloration to familiar material. Mr. Gay does have the odd habit of checking in from time to time to see what Freud thought of this or that Modernist, to no particular purpose. But he also delivers a splendid Freudian interpretation of Kafka’s work as embodying displaced conflict with his father. He also calls T. S. Eliot sharply to account, rejecting Eliot’s assertion that the poet hovers, detached, above the poem, an impersonal artificer. As implicated in Modernism’s interior voyage as any other poet, “Eliot was wrong.”
After World War II, Mr. Gay finds “much talent and little genius.” Pop Art’s erasure of distinctions between high and low art, crucial in his mind to the Modernist project, spelled the end of the great human adventure that began a century or more earlier. But Mr. Gay is not quite ready to sign the death certificate, especially after a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, designed by Frank Gehry. A twitch here, a jerk there, and who knows? There may indeed be life after death.

***

The Blush of the New


Photographs, clockwise from left: Keystone/Corbis; Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis; Stapleton Collection/Corbis
Clockwise from above: Le Corbusier brought a modernist sensibility to architecture, Flaubert to the novel and Baudelaire to poetry.

By LEE SIEGEL
Published: December 30, 2007
Thomas Mann was an archmodernist, and this was his favorite story: One day, Gustave Flaubert was out walking with his sister. Ferociously antibourgeois, Flaubert lived alone, unconsoled and unencumbered by marriage or family. His novels mocked and maligned the French middle class, ironizing it into oblivion. He was a great frequenter of brothels and had fornicated his way through Paris and Cairo. And yet here he was out for a stroll, suddenly stopping in his tracks before a small house surrounded by a white picket fence.

In the yard, a solid middle-class father played with his typical middle-class children while wife and mother looked lovingly on. The enemy! Yet instead of holding his nose, Flaubert gestured toward the house and exclaimed, without irony: “Ils sont dans le vrai!” (“They are in the truth!”) For Mann, the delightful incident illustrated the tension between the outrage at conventional life and the yearning to be part of it that tore at modernist psyches. There is more to aesthetic rebellion than offends the eye.
Surprisingly, the anecdote doesn’t appear in Peter Gay’s “Modernism: The Lure of Heresy,” a massive history of the movement in all its artistic forms — painting, sculpture, fiction, poetry, music, architecture, design, film (though, bafflingly, not photography, one of the chief catalysts of the modernist revolution). It’s all the more surprising because I once heard Gay cite Flaubert’s droll little stroll in a lecture, after which he brilliantly analyzed the episode’s every paradoxical nuance.
If anyone is aware of the complexity of modernist attitudes, it is Peter Gay. He is the country’s pre-eminent cultural historian and the author of masterpieces of social and intellectual reimagining including “The Enlightenment,” “Weimar Culture,” “Freud” and the towering multi-volume study “The Bourgeois Experience.” Such achievements make it all the more dismaying to find that in this rich, learned, briskly written, maddening yet necessary study, Gay’s formidable syntheses often run aground on lapses of knowledge and judgment.
Gay’s new book is the only one I’m aware of that tries to make sense of modernism in all its incarnations. Gay takes up his subject from the outset of the movement in the late 19th century to what he considers its continued vitality after World War II and its eventual death and possible resurrection in our own time. This comprehensiveness makes “Modernism” essential, especially for the general reader who wants to get a handle on Western culture’s most enigmatic phase. (A gift of this book and “The Rest Is Noise,” Alex Ross’s magisterial history of modern music, would equal about three years of college.) But unlike Henry Moore’s giant sculptures, in which negative space plays a positive role, Gay’s omissions and miscomprehensions cry out to be filled in and corrected. And yet, at times, the book is so nimbly erudite that its stubborn flaws make it all the more richly challenging.
For example, Gay knows that the image of the modernist as committed subverter of custom and convention is hackneyed. He writes in his introductory chapter that the idea of modernists as “scofflaws or mavericks massed against the solid verities of time-honored high culture and, usually, Christian faith” is one of the avant-garde’s “cherished fairy tales.” The Impressionists, for instance, didn’t care a whit about outraging official culture, or Christianity. But because Gay needs the “lure of heresy” to thematically structure his book, he often ends up not just reinforcing the caricature of modernists as unhappy outsiders and elitist malcontents, but inflating it.
It is almost as if Gay were perversely determined to undermine his own profound awareness of modernism’s multifaceted and contradictory nature. On the one hand he astutely writes, “The sources of the modernist rebellion in the arts rose from all quarters of the political, intellectual and emotional world.” On the other he speaks of “two essentially distinct areas of art, high art and low, which modernists had thought it crucial to keep apart.” But it was the modernists who brought the energy of everyday life into high art! Think of the scraps of newspapers and advertisements in the collages of Picasso and Braque; of the parodic newspaper headlines and the music hall ditties in Joyce’s “Ulysses”; of Leopold Bloom wiping himself with a newspaper in the notorious book that appalled Virginia Woolf (and delighted T. S. Eliot); or of the Dadaists’ total collapse of serious art into the quotidian, or Mahler’s quotations of nursery rhymes or Stravinsky’s saxophones — the list of the modernists’ elitist democratizations is interminable.
What a relief it is to read Gay debunking the myth of Kafka the grim depressive with a description of friends who “laughed heartily” when Kafka read drafts to them. Kafka’s fiction is about the comedy of sexual frustration and the humor of competitive paranoia, among other things. What really broke up Kafka’s friends was the first sentence of “The Trial”: “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.” Neurotic guilt was their collective métier.
Yet although Gay writes beautifully about Kafka, about Proust on grief, about authentic middle-class hunger for modernist liberations and about the final scene of recognition and unspeakable shame in Chaplin’s “City Lights” — to take just four examples among many — he seems to find it more useful to traffic in cardboard simplicities. There are a disconcerting number of these.
Gauguin did not, for example, abruptly quit his job as a stockbroker in Paris, as both popular legend and Gay would have it. He was fired by his firm, which had just gone under. You might say it was respectable society that had sacrificed Gauguin to the bottom line running just underneath bourgeois rhetoric about compassion and decency. No wonder the artist took off for what seemed to be the primitive explicitness of Tahiti.
Nor did the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch pay, as Gay writes, “the usual price” for his unsettling innovations. Munch was not doomed to “being misunderstood, neglected, rejected,” or to enjoying only “occasional appreciation.” He sold his first paintings at age 18 and three years later was invited to exhibit in the Norwegian section of the World’s Fair in Antwerp. At 26 he had his first one-man show, hailed by prominent art critics; two years later, Norway’s National Gallery, the country’s most prestigious art museum, purchased one of Munch’s works. By the time he was 40, Munch enjoyed international renown and the largesse of several wealthy patrons.
And it’s right for Gay to refer to Munch’s countryman, the odd, fierce peasant novelist Knut Hamsun, as a public admirer of the Nazis who wrote enthusiastically about them even as the Germans were occupying Norway. But it is wrong for Gay not to add that during his one meeting with Hitler, Hamsun so aggressively pressed the Führer to stop executing Norwegian resistance fighters and to loosen his repressive hold on the country that Hitler loathed Hamsun for his insolent disrespect.
As for Gay’s Parisian modernist “outsiders,” if the French provided the most extreme assaults on Western rationality — Rimbaud’s “disorientation of the senses,” André Breton’s celebration of primal instincts stored in the unconscious, André Gide’s enthusiasm for the “motiveless” crime, Antonin Artaud’s “Theater of Cruelty,” Maurice Blanchot’s declaration of the death of the author — the reason was simple. It was not that French conditions kept creating figures resembling Baudelaire, about whom Gay histrionically writes that he was “an outcast aware of his loneliness” — though, as Gay admits, Baudelaire lived at the center of Parisian cultural energy. In France, civilization is invincible and eternal. Its immutable stability makes opposition to it all the more cheerfully ferocious. You can hurl the most incredible rhetorical and intellectual violence against French custom and convention and still have time for some conversation in the cafe, un peu de vin, a delicious dinner and, of course, l’amour. And in the morning, you extricate yourself from such sophisticated coddling — the result of centuries of art and artifice — and rush back to the theoretical barricades.
But Gay, in thrall to Freud, prefers to root the modernists’ adventures in family trauma. Baudelaire, he writes, suffered a “revolution at home” after his father died and his mother married a “dashing” military officer. The poet and essayist, Gay simplistically tells us, “never quite worked through his expulsion from paradise.” Yet you would think that the author of the culture-shifting “Fleurs du Mal,” and of the equally seminal essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” had worked his way through everything that required working through.
In Charles Dickens’s “Little Dorrit,” a shrewd entrepreneur constantly condescends to his inventor friend by stressing what it pleases him to see as his friend’s pathetically impractical maladaptation to life. In fact, the inventor is fundamentally nothing of the kind. In a similar way, Gay falsely stresses the “cherished fairy tale” of modernist darkness, depression and miserable discontent. But Dada, for instance, was not “wholly negative,” as Gay describes it, any more than Munch or Kafka was wholly negative. Hannah Höch’s and Sophie Tauber’s dolls and puppets, Duchamp’s optical illusions in the form of whimsical machines and especially the cool, broken harmonies of Kurt Schwitters’s collages and fantastical life-size constructions were all imbued with the positive spirit of humor and play.
Even more radical are Gay’s misperceptions of modernism’s fundamental nature. It is not accurate to say, as Gay does, that in modernist fiction, “modernist mirrors reflected mainly the author.” Joyce, Proust, Mann, Lawrence, Woolf, Gide all wrote great realist novels that were as concerned with minutely noting the external world as with projecting intensely personal visions of the world. Elsewhere, Gay seems to acknowledge this, too. About Baudelaire, he writes, “Like the modernists who came after him, he was a realist with a difference.” Perhaps Gay simply wants to say that Baudelaire is a symbolist poet, and that surreal or highly subjective images coexist in his poetry alongside “realist” evocations of mental states and physical reality. In any case, it would have been helpful for Gay to explain his nice phrase “realist with a difference” and then go on to apply it to his other modernists. But he never elaborates on the distinction and never returns to it.
On the disheartening conundrum of modernists and politics, Gay is at his most bewildering. He writes of “liberalism, that fundamental principle of modernism.” He seems to have momentarily forgotten that Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Lawrence and Céline on the right, and Picasso, Gide, Breton and the Russian modernists (barely alluded to by Gay) on the left, were about as far from liberalism as a Cubist painting is from an iPod — not to mention the toxically snobbish Woolf, who was neither right nor too much left. For Gay, reactionaries like Eliot and Hamsun were “anti-modern modernists.” But he does not try to account for the fact that reactionaries like the Italian Futurists worshipped modernity’s speed and power. Nor does he grapple with what you might call hypermodernists: the utopian Russian avant-garde, who, far from being political reactionaries, threw in their lot with the Bolsheviks.
The question of why so many modernists were drawn to regimes that were sick parodies of the modernist quest for transcendence and absolutes is unanswerable. But perhaps here is where some psychologizing could be useful. Perhaps beleaguered by the mental burden of their intensely personal visions, the modernists looked at a totalitarian regime’s real-life version of their fanaticism and perfectionism and wearily exclaimed, “They are in the truth!” Thus they contrived the delusion that actual power made a home somewhere in the world for their solitary ideals. It could have been a mental trick that protected their egos from mortal wounds.
Gay traces the modernist impulse through the post-World War II period to our own time, where he finds it in the work of Frank Gehry and Gabriel García Márquez. Yet he doesn’t have much admiration for the postwar epoch. “There was much talent and little genius,” he writes about the decades after 1945. Is it so, however, that T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens “produced no creditable heirs”? Not even W. H. Auden, who is not discussed by Gay? (“Lay your sleeping head, my love / Human on my faithless arm” — in one stroke, Auden could invoke modernist despair and affirm human hope.) But then, Gay never discusses Brecht’s dramas, either, though those quintessentially modernist works changed theater forever, especially in the ’60s. Conversely, Gay’s survey of postwar American art almost exclusively refers to the intensely biased and partisan — toward his own dubious theories, that is — Clement Greenberg, which is like quoting a Jesuit on the character and history of Protestantism.
Indeed, Gay’s inclusion of postwar art in a history of modernism makes little sense. Modernism was modernism only when the rising foundations, beams and struts of modernity were still visible. Once modernity became an enveloping condition, artists who were part of that condition — from Pollock to Warhol, from Robbe-Grillet to Grass, from Artaud to Pinter — rebelled as much against modernist Prometheanism as against the modern inadequacies that provoked it.
The Abstract Expressionists’ pure formalism was the end of the road for painting, not the exciting beginning of a new frontier. Malevich, Kandinsky and Mondrian all thought they had embodied a universal spiritual language in aesthetic form. Rothko wanted only that his canvases make people cry. DeKooning painted his scary women to make viewers laugh when they recalled Western art’s idealizations of women. And Pollock wanted nothing specific at all — Greenberg stuffed his theories into Pollock’s mouth. After modernity’s catastrophic climaxes — the Holocaust, Stalin’s gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki — postwar art aimed both to lower the boom on modernist euphoria and to ridicule modernism’s earnest despondency. Mann may not have been right when he wrote in his novel “Doctor Faustus” that modernism could only produce works of art that parodied earlier epochs. But in our own time, we seem mostly to be surrounded by art that parodies the various strains of modernism.
For all that, it’s painful to list the inadequacies in “Modernism.” Despite its failings, Gay’s book touches on so many relevant ideas and issues, subjects and themes, that it rouses us to a keen awareness of our own condition. Consider the second part of his thesis. Gay argues that along with the “lure of heresy,” what characterized the modernist rebellion was its “celebration of subjectivity.” If there’s anything that speaks to us now, it is the question of the “I,” that barbell of a pronoun that is so hard to lift in just the right expressive way. It is often provocative to watch Gay pursue modernist representations of the self.
Yet you wish that in Gay’s countless references to what he regards as the modernists’ cultivation of inwardness, he had made an important distinction between the modernists and the Romantics. It was the Romantics who stressed subjectivity. By contrast, the modernists emphasized the idiosyncrasy of personal vision as a way to flee from subjectivity. Knut Hamsun called this an “unselfish inwardness.” Gay means the same thing when he writes of “disinterested subjectivity” in his discussion of “Ulysses.” But he never returns to the idea.
The single reference Gay does make to Romantic inwardness occurs in the chapter on Baudelaire. It’s anybody’s guess as to what Gay means when he writes that the most sophisticated Romantics rejected “unchecked subjectivity.” Rousseau, Chateaubriand, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Goethe in “Werther” — all these “sophisticated” Romantic authors were, by the standards of their age, “unchecked” in their subjective outpourings. But Gay seems to think it was the Romantics, not the modernists, who restrained their introspections.
On the contrary. Every modern revolution finds its point of resistance in the personal experience of those in revolt — that is, in a heightened subjectivity. The Romantics substituted genius and unique personality for aristocratic birthright and class, thus giving birth to the bourgeoisie. As Rousseau famously wrote, “I feel my heart, and therefore I know humankind.” But by the time the modernists came along, the bourgeoisie had conventionalized Romantic individualism into the petty assertions of ego.
And so the modernists sought to replace personality. They dissolved it in an impersonal creative vision that was nevertheless uniquely individual. Unselfish inwardness. When Eliot wrote that poetry was “not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality,” he was thinking along Hamsun’s lines. “The Wasteland” doesn’t tell us anything specific about Eliot’s personality, but it could have been produced only by Eliot’s personality. To put it another way, the Romantics exalted the self, but the modernists exalted the idiosyncratic — the intensely individualistic — escape from self.
Perhaps the bourgeoisie’s origins as the revolutionary class account for its facile assimilations of cultural subversions. Throughout his book, Gay marvels at the middle class’s capacity to absorb its adversaries. It’s an old story. But there is a difference between Artaud and HBO. We have exhausted Romantic individualism, and we have twisted the uniquely individual, modernist escape from the self into “self-expression.” Expression is everywhere nowadays, but true art has grown indistinct and indefinable. We seem now to be living in a world where everyone has an artistic temperament — emotive and touchy, cold and self-obsessed — yet few people have the artistic gift. We are all outsiders, and we are all living in our own truth.
Lee Siegel’s “Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob” will be published next month.

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