[lbo-talk] On the virtues of print

Chuck Grimes c123grimes at att.net
Fri Sep 24 00:57:18 PDT 2010

The question is whether it's worth the investment in time to produce content for print. If we've reached thousands of people on the web, is there any point to having a pretty magazine in a few indie bookstores on the East Coast and in the mailboxes of a hundred or so financially secure readers? Is it just a vanity project, pointlessly limiting how much content we can include, and unconsciously shaping that content by subjecting ourselves to certain market pressures?


I agree with Mike Beggs SA,DC,DH, etc, if money is not an issue, do print.

Some other thoughts.

The web is just too transitory, which makes it impossible to use the material for anything beyond causal consumption.

Somehow talk and web-chat even if transcribed are just too loose as mediums. Since I didn't have a print source on WBM, I had to listen to a video and or read transcripts. These are just not the same. Books and magazine become a kind of measure of changes in your own thought over time. For example, I've got all the Artforums from about 1970 to about 1980 and they contain the early writing of Roseline Krauss, Lucy Lippard, Peter Plagens, and others. They frame a particular era of art criticism and the art it was about. I wish I had a whole library of several other important magazines in art criticism. Here is an hilarious passage from Plagens, who always had a great sense of humor:

``As you get older, in the art world as elsewhere, you're confronted with some choices about how to conduct yourself. You can, for instance, stay locked in the style you strutted when you were younger and hipper-that is, continuing to wear a ponytail and tight cowboy shirts with mother-of-pearl buttons long after you've gone bald on top and acquired a gut. Or you can try to keep up with today's younger people by copying their fashions: Shave your head, wear small, expensive blue Italian sunglasses and a shiny suit over a black T-shirt and try to blend in with the 30something critics and curators. Or you can just give up altogether on trying to wax contemporary-and wear bow ties, tweed jackets with elbow patches, and take your proud place as a nays.

I find myself thinking about this stuff lately because I'm now 67[[68, if this is published after March 1, 2009]]-an age I seem to have reached suddenly, and quite unjustly, overnight.''


BTW, this is worth reading, if your into art. Shit, I wish I wrote like Plagens. He's always had that touch, to say what I should have been thinking... Still I disagree with him. He didn't do minimal or conceptual art so he doesn't understand them. Art is one of those things you have to do, to understand it. I did, and I do, while also keeping with Caravaggio, if you can believe it.

To see Plagens at work:


Now all you art students. What's the message? This is a method of painting that Arshile Gorky developed, to draw in automatic, like Andre Breton, and then go over it like a jazz improvization, cuting, smearing, running down with a brush... You can do this because your hand has some sense of the automata of form, from scribbling as a kid.

Sorry for the digression. I've got some editorial comments.

I'd expand your concept of what this magazine is supposed to be. You quote:

+ As proponents of modernity and the unfilled project of the Enlightenment. + As opponents of bigotry, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Americanism. + As asserters of the libertarian quality of the socialist ideal. + As internationalists and epicureans.

I am not sure I understand what any of the above means. I think you need a more comprehensive philosophy. What is it you stand for, in the proactive and positive sense? This is a little different than a mission statement. Here is an easy sort of test for what that view might be. Who are your favorite writers in fiction? Who are your favorite philosophers? You don't have to answer. The point is to put names down. In some sense, this process, helps `objectify' what you stand for.

One of the things that bothered me about WMB in his interviews and discussions is he doesn't use examples. He tends to generalities.

Doug quotes WBM: "as far as I know the only people who are openly for illegal immigration are neoliberal economists."

See the problem? Which neoliberal economists, and which people? WBM could never get away with saying something like that without examples in a more formal venue. It's just poor scholarship.

Ian Morrison does the same thing here:

``Reading some of the left-wing press (if it is even fair to describe it as such) you would think America is on the brink of a fascist insurrection...''

Which left-wing press? Just give me some names. I can name a couple of names, but then I am not writing that essay; Noam Chompky and Chip Berlet, for example. I notice this at the bottom:

``Ian Morrison is a journalist currently living in Chicago. He is a former editor at the Platypus Review and a frequent contributor to the Tehran Bureau.''

Morrison in the above passage is doing poor journalism. The Tehran Bureau...of what?

Don't take this criticism too much to heart.

I've been made overly aware of the problems with unsubstantiated remarks because of studying Leo Strauss and the extraordinary nature of his mendacity. I've decided his tendency to just pull things out of his ass comes from the basic problem with idealism, which is the plague of our times. The basic problem is you can write something that is logically or systematically true and factually false. The whole theory of neoliberal economics is full of this problem. In theory it works one way and in fact it works another.

Idealisms of all kinds relie on their own internal premises so they can as a general rule get themselves way out sight of the actual existing conditions and facts. You can believe something is true, and it might be. But the essential issue is to demonstrate it, verify it.

Anyway, the above comments go to the first of your common values:

``proponents of modernity and the unfilled project of the Enlightenment.''

The use of examples, names, specific works, some occasional facts, to verify what you write, is a matter of craftsmenship and credibility. The way the enlightenment broke down various Aristotlian doctrines about the natural world was through developing systems of investigation that could be repeated to demonstrate and verify their conclusions, i.e. the basic or crude scientific method. Similar or related methods are used in scholarship. These general concepts penetrated just about every field from history and philosophy to physics and sociology.

I should add a closing note. The great eras of philosophy were directly and materially linked to the printing press and its book trades in Venice, Florence, Amsterdam, London, Paris and Berlin. The city and the book. You can see it in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It is something vitally important to keep.


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