Linda, your question about what art can do and whether it’s being hampered by its own conventions resonates with me very deeply. I’ve been thinking a lot about the so-called “post-studio” movement that seems to be gaining momentum, and while I applaud the effort art’s making to move out into the world I also wonder if it isn’t in danger of losing the very thing that makes it worth bringing out there to begin with. This “thing,” as I see it, is none other than non-discursive thought, by which I mean the kind of thinking that happens beneath the plane of reason in that rich underworld that is the unconscious. This is what art embodies and the means by which it (very powerfully) communicates. What I see happening is that in its reach toward greater cultural influence, art is becoming more like other modes of discourse (which is to say more discursive), and since these other modes of discourse don’t seem to be getting us anywhere in solving our pressing crises, why perpetuate more of the same? I’m a fervent believer in the power of poetry, precisely because it bypasses reason and shoots straight into the body, that unacknowledged locus of most of our cognition. To me, art is embodied poetry.
None of this is to suggest that I’m in any way anti-reason. God knows we need it, just as she knows it’s become something of an endangered species. (One wonders a bit why, if she really exists, she doesn’t step up and do something about this.) But reason alone is inadequate. It needs to be augmented by something other – some other kind of language that can access the deeper regions of the psyche/soma. So sure, we have to speak to each other in the conventional language, but the whole point of an art-science relationship is that we also make things, and then behold them, and then speak some more – even if our language falls far short of what we got from the experience.