No ideas but in things


Giorgio Morandi, Still Life with Five Objects. 1956.

Giorgio Morandi, Still Life with Five Objects. 1956.

A quote from Marshall Gregory’s essay on literature that applies just as well to conceptual vs. perceptual art, or what Frank Lentricchia, in the same essay, is quoted as calling “Art as stubborn specificity, as untheorizable peculiarity.”:

“Since modernism’s elevation of the notion of aesthetic purity and writerly experimentation in literature, and since postmodernism’s elevation of the notion of linguistic indeterminateness, the educational power of literature, history, and other narrative forms has either been neglected or reduced to the inculcation of ideology. The fuel that powers all of these imaginative activities is concrete details. Abstractions, generalizations, precepts, and logic play indispensable roles in reasoning and theory-making, but the imagination needs images, textures, sensations, smells, sounds, tastes–the look and feel of particular things in particular contexts–in order to do its work.”

–Marshall Gregory The Sound of Story: Narrative, Memory, and Selfhood

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