Sunday, March 21, 2021

"Graphomania inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions..."

"1. An elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities; 2. A high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals; 3. The absence of dramatic social changes in the nation's internal life. (From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel)."

Wrote Milan Kundera in "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting" (1979), quoted at the Wikipedia entry "Graphomania." "Graphomania" is a word I looked up after writing the previous post, about Mr. Doodle.

What if anything distinguishes obsessive writing from obsessive drawing? I don't know, but back in 2005 there was a show called "Obsessive Drawing" at The American Folk Art Museum. Holland Cotter wrote about it in the NYT: 

The act of drawing and painting, [one artist said], helped to ease a debilitating anxiety that had dogged him all his life. Once he started a drawing, the anxiety lifted. Relief arrived as a state of entrancement. One minute he'd be sitting at his kitchen table with sheets of graph paper and a pen filled with ink. The next, he'd be aware that hours had passed, and he'd done a drawing. What was the mechanism responsible? He's not sure, but it worked for a creative half century....

Debates about the ethics and efficacy of Outsider Art as a category, with an aura of exceptionalism and exoticism, are old by now.

Yeah, who even hears about that anymore? On the internet, who's the outsider? Mr. Doodle didn't need the Folk Art Museum to embrace him. He just put himself out there on social media.

Archaic prose from Cotter's article:

This is art that can neither be expressively tempered, nor politically corrected, nor marketably slotted by that great vetting, veneering machine called the art industry. So it stays volatile, radioactive, problematically hot. Is this why our mainstream institutions are so reluctant to exhibit it? Because they're afraid of it, afraid of its unpredictablity, afraid of how its intense singularity will react with, clash with, even infect other art? 

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