In an age when the banalities
of cultural studies have become an inescapable presence in every academic journal and college curriculum, it's exhilarating to experience the withering blasts of Gass' ire, and listen to him as he enlarges upon them by citing passages of poetry or prose that he particularly admires, wrapping the whole in an ornate latticework of example, exhortation, supposition, cross-reference, and caustic aside.
This is why a fleshy knee, a roll of abdomen, a knot of brow, or countless details of textured fabric, all visible in Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995, can each suspend the viewer's attention, keeping the eye from slipping into banalities
of total design.
it does not even indicate an elsewhere of meaning (another content, added to the obvious meaning); it outplays meaning - subverts not the content but the entire practice of meaning." In "Pause," the final section of one of his most extraordinary interventions, "Day by Day with Roland Barthes," in which he considered, for the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, such lovely banalities
as the barber's shop, rumor, cherries, movies, napping, Superman, butter, and the look in your eyes, Barthes explicated his project, and incidentally provided a precis of much of the analogous energy behind Warhol's: "For a long time now I have thought of writing as that power of language which pluralizes the meaning of things and, in short, suspends it."
But even in general terms Altman manifests no knowledge of fashion, blithely confusing haute couture (his ostensible subject) with the ready-to-wear of his title (originally the French Pret-A-Porter, now in English translation for the least sophisticated audiences - precisely those most unlikely to be interested in Altman's duplicities and banalities
Every border within this painting is a border between visual and discursive banalities
. And banalities
occupy the entire space--a map of the cold war of all against all.
In Italy, much of the art that has emerged since the '80s "trans-avantgarde," and outside its influence, has been dubbed "neo-Conceptual." Though the artists themselves will often have nothing to do with this label, seeing it as a banality based on a merely formal approach to their work, still, like most banalities
it contains a certain truth.