Sunday, August 17, 2008

Spilling Ink


Zhang Huan
"Family Tree"
2001
Portfolio of 9 images
25 x 20 inches

"'Everyone is entitled to know everything'...is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era: people also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable one....A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive burdening flow of information."
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Photo credit: Reproduction of Zhang Huan's "Family Tree" ripped from Art Core Gallery

4 comments:

Michael said...

This image brings to mind the movie "The Pillow Book." Parts of that movie have stuck with me for over a decade. I recommend it.

Movie Trailer.

Clip. (warning: NSFW, not for the squeamish, and also a total spoiler... you've been warned)

steve said...

The quote from Solzhenitsyn leaves me with despair. He expresses the same anti-enlightenment, authoritarian crap that supported the regime that imprisoned him for years. Did he learn nothing?

Michael said...

Isn't there a difference, though, between freedom from information and the inability to access information? I can't claim to know much about the author of the quote, but his notions don't seem automatically authoritarian to me. To be denied access to reasonable information would certainly be authoritarian, but another reading of the quote would argue for the right to be left unmolested by superfluous input. As someone that has 12 housemates, I take this right very seriously. There is a great deal that I neither wish nor need to know. For example, I have the right not to be informed about the quality and quantity of my neighbor's bowel movements. I feel like that goes without saying. Yet in some way, it seems like we as a culture are constantly doing just that on a grand scale. We foisting the grimy details of our lives upon one another regardless of whether the recipient cares to receive.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Michael (on "The Pillow Book"):

Yup, that movie is among the most sensuous I've seen, and the ink-on-skin play is exciting...even if Greenaway strays into pomposity too often.

Steve:
Solzhenitsyn was vehemently critical of most things authortarian AND most things Western democracy. Generally, I find his observations wrong-headed - for example, he seemed very much in favor of colonialism and global patrolling (with a big stick) - but I think that he rightly critiqued the western media. The rushing flow of information - these days, most easily fingered are cable news and the political blogosphere - actually dulls the public mind, so that the vast majority of Americans today shrug off news of any kind other than updates on Suri's bowel movements. The Russian military activity in Georgia, for example, is meaningless - almost a fiction, in fact - to most people to I talk to in New York. That is deeply troubling.