Franz Quotes

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FV: Hasn't all art, in a way, submitted to words - reduced itself to the literary... admitted its failure through all the catalogues and criticism, monographs and manifestos - ML: Explanations? FV: Exactly. All the artistry, now, seems expended in the rhetoric and sophistry used to differentiate, to justify its own existence now that so little is left to do. And who's to say how much of it ever needed doing in the first place? [... ] Nothing's been done here but the re-writing of rules, in denial that the game was already won, long ago, by the likes of Duchamp, Arp, or Malevich. I mean, what's more, or, what's less to be said than a single black square? ML: Well, a triangle has fewer sides, I suppose. FV: Then a circle, a line, a dot. The rest is academic; obvious variations on an unnecessary theme, until you're left with just an empty canvas - which I'm sure has been done, too. ML: Franz Kline, wasn't it? Or, Yves Klein - didn't he once exhibit a completely empty gallery? No canvases at all. FV: I guess, from there, to not exhibit anything - to do absolutely nothing at all - would be the next "conceptual" act; the ultimate multimedia performance, where all artforms converge in negation and silence. And someone's probably already put their signature to that, as well. But even this should be too much, to involve an artist, a name. Surely nothing, done by no-one, is the greatest possible artistic achievement. Yet, that too has been done. Long, long ago. Before the very first artists ever walked the earth.

Mort W. Lumsden
Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience. I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause. Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published). The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev. In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel's 'Charter 77' committees. That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium. I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me. When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason! Totalitarianism is itself a cliche (as well as a tundra of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliche upon me in turn. I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story. The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would. (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job. This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.) A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what 'The Party' had so perfectly termed 'normalization.' As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.

Christopher Hitchens
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