On Voir Dire (and critic George Steiner’s aversion to critics).  Here’s artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky on art historians:

Art historians . . . write books full of praise and deep sentiments — about an art that yesterday was regarded as senseless.  By means of these books, they remove the hurdles over which art has long sine jumped, and set up new ones, which shti time are supposed to stay permanently and firmly in place. Engaged in this occupation, they fail to notice that they are building their barriers behind art rather than in front of it.  If they notice it tomorrow, then they will quickly write more books in order to remove their barriers one stage further.  And this occupation will continue unchanged until it is realized that the external principles of art can only be valid for the past and not for the future. . . . Theory is the lantern that illuminates the crystallize forms of yesterday and before. [On the Spiritual in Art, chapter 3]

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. [Matthew]


  1. That’s a super funny parallel. Matthew is an even heavier indictment, saying that it was ever thus. I kills me to see that people longed for an earlier time even when they were already in an earlier time (e.g. Ecclesiastes’ cosmic life-fatigue).

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