i want to say about the post below that i tend to express critical judgments with a sledge-hammer. it took me awhile to reach the point of not deferring to what various other people think and reaching my own judgments cleanly. then it was another step to hammering them home like that. i realize it can seem kind of over-aggressive and arrogant. true true! but one little idea i have is that something like that is action without consequence (like, say, academic philosophy). i love action without consequence; it is extremely liberating. now, i could be wrong about burroughs. it's even probable. one thing my hostile response entails is not reading all the books (a couple, though, way back). the last thing i propose to do is read the complete works of ginsberg so as to spend the next ten years criticizing him in detail. but - who knows? - if i did i might slowly ameliorate the harshness. but anyway say i am wrong. so what? burroughs' reputation is in many hands and has been built up over decades by many authoritative voices. it's not going to harm him, or even those that love him, to say wait that sucks, though it might irritate them a bit. if i say the italian renaissance basically leaves me cold and has been wildly overrated since 1550, that would be a bold, counter-consensus, possibly ridiculous position. but it wouldn't - doesn't - damage anything or anyone, though it might puzzle or offend someone. it has no ethical upshot or implication. so, hammer back! like ziffel, e.g. it's like playing a video game: you can shoot stuff without killing anything! it's complete moral liberation! free yourselves through brutal criticism, my friends, from the cycle of samsara.
it's important in evaluating me the critic that i don't hate everything, and i'm just as intemperate in my loves as in my hatreds. and then it really matters whether or not i'm expressing these opinions in a clever or funny or sharp way, which i'll leave others to judge (brutally, no doubt).
ok briefly on the italian high renaissance, particularly michelangelo and raphael: it has the opposite problem from the beats: the perfection, embodied in perfectly poised compositional structures, has an inhuman or blank quality. (it's not like i'm the first person to notice that: people started reacting immediately, or cf. caravaggio.) it is pervaded by platonism: the aspiration to transcend this world into an ideal realm. but i don't think that's possible, and i don't think it's admirable. further in, not out, is the course i'd recommend: durer. van eyck. also it is very stuck between paganism and christianity, and between sexual obsession and asceticism, between the actual concrete reality of the human body and human body as a sign of something that can have no body: between self-adoration and self-loathing. the tension is productive, but that's not to say it's resolved. naked bodies everywhere, but weirdly purged of particularity: signs, not things. does michelangelo celebrate or transcend embodiment? does he seek a sexual release or a release from the material world altogether? the sexuality is omnipresent, obsessional, but is, almost ridiculously, also repressed: all these naked bodies have...nothing to do with sexuality. that's...dishonest. the sublimation of sexuality into spirituality is at least as old as the symposium and has a certain profundity and a certain quixotic nobility. also a certain ridiculousness. like: just admit you want to fuck. and what the hell, i think the cult of greeks, as liberating as it felt to roman catholics in the 15th and 16th centuries, or to germans in the 19th, was overwrought. and the patronage structures in which these folks were embroiled were excruciatingly problematic. wait maybe that wasn't so brief!