Monday, July 21, 2014

Notes on Michael Andrews

I've written about Michael Andrews before. This morning, calling him to mind as I got out of bed, and using him for "reassurance", I reread his "Notes and Preoccupations" (X 1960, volume 1, number 2, pp. 137-141). He describes "the activity" of painting as "the most marvellous, elaborate, complete way of making up [his] mind". Which is what writing should be for me. What it isn't often enough.

"The painting episode is the real situation imagined. Re-enacted and rehearsed until its performance is the best possible. There is nothing like it in public life …"

"The painting episode is a rehearsal of behaviour in which I go through the motions again and again until it seems the best possible … The ultimate exultation is one feels is that of having done something at the top of one's form. The dispiritedness is like disgust."

This is what I must learn, i.e., to have writing "episodes". To see writing as a private "rehearsal" of behaviour that cannot be subjected to such obsessive repetition in public.

"Every aesthetic adjustment reflects an ethical preference."

In writing, too, we make "aesthetic adjustments", which means that the aim is, as in painting, to "materialize" what is on one's mind, however vague and approximate it seems. "You're now physically close to what was once in imagination." But such adjustments also have an "epistemic" dimension, reflecting its reference, perhaps. Here the writing serves to idealize what is in the world.

"Ethics have to do with self-consciousness, aesthetics with unself-consciousness."

The pangrammatical supplement is something like: epistemology has to do with it-consciousness, aesthetics with un-it-consciousness. (Or just, perhaps, unconsciousness?)

"Mysterious conventionality."

"When suddenly you are out of sympathy with someone you feel your own disposition most strongly."

There's something here too. "Every day there'll be problems and vague and incomplete fragmentary visions … Terrible anxiety to keep things in mind to realize them to the full."

But one imagines Andrews sitting down to work. To rehearse the relevant behaviors. Perfect them. "You cannot force repetitions of a situation [in public life] at the speed of rehearsals on a painting."

Nor in writing. But do we practice enough?


"One must believe, desire, love (and not be embarrassed out of loving) the atmosphere one creates—that is best."

That's good advice. It reminds me that there is a special use of the word "wise" in English, albeit only in conjunction with the preposition "up". As a verb, I mean. We can "wise up". We must not be embarrassed about this either, we must wise (v.) the atmosphere (i.e., "get wise" to it); we must not be embarrassed out of "wising".

No comments: