It had been my intention to attack this response to the avant garde by shredding this paper into strips and taping the pieces back together in the “wrong” order, or using only monosyllabic words. These efforts, however, by being insincere mockeries, would necessarily be uninspired and derivative. Which is not to say they would not also be avant-garde. By challenging the institution of the academic paper, casting off its rules, the requisite structure, the "high" language typically associated with it, I would pull down the heavy glass separating the academic artist from the rest of the world.
But as a graduate student attending one of the most expensive institutions in one of the world’s richest nations, I am by writing a "traditional" paper producing an example of autonomous bourgeois art, precisely, according to Peter Burger’s Theory of the Avant Garde (49), what the avant-garde sought to sublate. The issue of autonomy is no simple matter, indicating a separateness from the "praxis of life" while at the same time historically resulting from it—an inherent and intertwined contradiction only a deconstructionist could love—but by having both the time and means to produce this paper, inaccessible to the majority and wholly separate from the praxis of life of anyone whose life does not consist of reading such things, I am guilty of creating a functionless, detached museum piece.
For which I had best keep an eye out for FT Marinetti, who in the Futurist Manifesto paints a portrait of himself and his followers as heading to such institutions with lit torches and raised pickaxes (50). I might be able to avoid his blows if a sufficient number of students produced identical responses, enough to call them mass-produced, thereby eliminating the "category of individual creation," which Bürger claims is another avant-garde goal (51).
But whether this leap out of the Futurist frying pan would land me in the Vorticist fire is difficult to ascertain; the Blast Manifesto desires specifically, in all capitals, to appeal to the individual. It wishes to make individuals (2194), interestingly enough on a national if not global scale, and all of them creating art.
Having that many individual voices clamoring at once is another crucial tenet of the avant-garde; it need not, best not, always agree with itself. The "classical" works, as the word classical has been used to describe the 19th Century realist novels, had a somewhat uniform way of doing things, a most deplorable sort of standardization of linear progression guided by an omniscient narrator. The avant-garde could not approach the subjects of art and the world with any kind of operational unity; its goals demand internal discord, infighting, the artistic energy generated from intense disagreement. The two manifestos agree on this, if nothing else—politeness, civility, mannerism, all are detrimental to the cause.
As is widespread acceptance of its works or message. Too many urinals on display at the Whitney—perhaps even just the one—signal the absorption of the commentary into the institution. The avant-garde cannot become the standard, the measure. Therefore, it must, as Marinetti looks forward to (51), constantly turn on itself, burn its own scrolls every few years in order to prevent their institutionalization. Nothing can remain truly "avant-garde" for very long, unless that title is used more to define a period than a practice. A realist novel is always a realist novel. The avant-garde artist must with general acceptance ultimately lose his status and await his own sublation.
The avant-garde is very aware of what is going on around it in "the arts" (a designation it likewise despises), or tries to be. It takes a frequently non-subtle and highly visible approach to challenging tradition. In muted solidarity, I have typed this response on paper orientated upside-down and backwards.
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