Wednesday, 8 July 2020

'a desire to make the game more joyful'

I've read and re-read some texts by Dave Hickey. I did this because I wanted to highlight some of the aspects of 'The Heresy of the Zone Defence', his excellent treatise on egalitarian and libertarian principles by example of basketball. Instead I noticed some similarities to my own approach to writing about art.

Although there are plenty of specific points in his writings that I take exception to, the attitude with which he approaches them is something I find extremely commendable. Most notably the self-awareness of its flaws, as an awareness of one's own shortcomings is crucial in understanding those of others.
From the introductory text of Air Guitar:
'I have tried to smooth out some rough spots in revision, but the fact remains that some of these pieces end in places that I should have never gone, had I not started out in the direction that I did. Some of them conclude on notes that I should never have played, had I not begun with the simple little riff that I did. So understand that I have not set out to shock or offend, only to speculate on the consequences of my own experience, the shape of it; and be assured, as well, that all of these essays began in innocence, in extremely simple, even childlike questions that begin with "Why?"'
'Why? I wondered -- and I wondered all the time, because it's disquieting to be doing something and not know why you're doing it.'

Later on in the same anthology we come across his description of preparing for his dissertation. It isn't long before Hickey makes a decision to 'quit this shit' and instead start the gallery A Clean Well-Lighted Place. His considerations accurately describe my own experiences with academia: 'I had just fucked up, and this realization came as a bit of a downer, to be sure, although it certainly explained the sense of nauseous dread I had been feeling at the prospect of laying my labors before my "interdisciplinary" committee. Because I knew what would happen. The two post-structuralists, confronted with the empericism of my practice, would almost certainly fling themselves upon the barricades. The literary humanist, faced with the prospect of calculus, would go catatonic; and the two linguistics wonks, who spent their summers taping Hopis and thought Gertrude Stein was something you drank beer out of, would bitch and moan about my "unscientific" literary parameters and probably resign from the committee. I figured I was looking at twelve months of spite, recrimination, misprision, and power politics.'