FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 226 Mary McCarthy (Feature on artist David Claerbout )

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Francis Schaeffer comments on William Burroughs:

I am going to read first from Douglas M. Davis article, “The New Mood: An Obsession with the Absurd.” National Observer (February 1965), and then comment on it.

William Burroughs, 50, is the most controversial of them all, former drug addict, he wrote an impressionistic intensely detailed account of his experience and published it in 1962 under the title NAKED LUNCH.”

If there is anything that guarantees to make you nauseated it is NAKED LUNCH, and that is anybody, not just Christians.

“The book provoked a lively debate that is still in progress filled with pages and pages of what seemed to be gratuitous pornography. Critic John Wayne labeled NAKED LUNCH the merest trash, not worth a second glance. Mary McCarthy  didn’t agree. She called it the most important novel of the age and the epic of the century.”

That is because Mary McCarthy really belongs in the same thing. I saw Mary McCarthy on the BBC-3 television program when we were in England coming back from my last lecture time in the States. It was a discussion on censorship with Kenneth Tynan on November 13, 1965 and suddenly while discussing censorship Tynan used the most famous of all four letter words on TV and Mary McCarthy just laughed. I was fascinated and I thought the BBC was further along than I thought it was. Then the war started in Parliament the next day, embarrassment and finally apologies for the use of the famous four letter word on the BBC. Why do these men smash things this way? Mary McCarthy would think NAKED LUNCH is a good book because she belongs in the same black bath.

“Mr. Burroughs new novel NOVA EXPRESS will hardly settle matters. Like NAKED LUNCH it is impressionistic although not filled with pornography but with rough brutal language. If ever a book was written with rage it is this one. One doesn’t have to be a psychologist to perceive the moralist behind the mask of William Burroughs. Indeed, it is puritanical anger in the man that both saves the books from the charge of depravity and makes them unreadable.”

I would say that is right. These men are not cabbages. These men are like John Osborne. They are idealists without an ideal. An idealist for which no ideal exist as far as they are concerned. So you can say they are puritanical in the sense they are furious simply because they want values and they can’t find them, so they are smashing. And again we ask why do they smash things so? I will say two things about these men. It is always the same. FIRST, aren’t they horrible? We are at war with these men. They are trying to destroy us. If I am a Christian and I’m reading in an uncritical way and naive fashion they will destroy us. They will destroy everything they touch. It is like a real breath from the devil and they are destructive and then SECONDLY, they are really seeking purpose and they are really seeking values. They are not nobody. You can say they are horrible, but you can’t say they are nobody. 

David Claerbout interview about Duration in his work.

Featured artist is David Claerbout

David Claerbout

David Claerbout was born in 1969, in Kortrijk, Belgium, and lives and works in Antwerp and Berlin. Using photography, video, and digital-editing tools, Claerbout creates large-scale installations that provoke questions of time, memory, and truth.

A natural draftsman, Claerbout was an adult before he realized that drawing could allow him to develop more complex concepts. Claerbout creates immersive installations that offer audiences alternative readings of a moment, and involve the manipulation of moving and still images. These works, which can take several years to complete, investigate the passage of time and the concept of the in-between state of duration.

Links:
Artist’s website
Artist on Facebook

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