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James Carse on culture as art

Not necessarily entirely true, but generative.

Since culture is itself a poiesis, all of its participants are poietai—inventors, makers, artists, storytellers, mythologists. They are not, however, makers of actualities, but makers of possibilities.

The creativity of culture has no outcome, no conclusion. It does not result in art works, artifacts, products. Creativity is a continuity that engenders itself in others. “Artists do not create objects, but create by way of objects” (Rank).

Art is not art, therefore, except as it leads to an engendering creativity in its beholders. Whoever takes possession of the objects of art has not taken possession of the art. Since art is never possession, and always possibility, nothing possessed can have the status of art.

If art cannot become property, property is never art—as property. Property draws attention to titles, points backward toward a finished time. Art is dramatic, opening always forward, beginning something that cannot be finished.

Because it is not conclusive, but engendering, culture has no established catalogue of acceptable activities. We are not artists by reason of having mastered certain skills or exercising specified techniques. Art has no scripted roles for its performers. It is precisely because it has none that it is art. Artistry can be found anywhere; indeed, it can only be found anywhere. One must be surprised by it. It cannot be looked for. We do not watch artists to see what they do, but watch what persons do and discover the artistry in it.

Artists cannot be trained. One does not become an artist by acquiring certain skills or techniques, though one can use any number of skills and techniques in artistic activity. The creative is found in anyone who is prepared for surprise. Such a person cannot go to school to be an artist, but can only go to school as an artist.

Therefore, poets do not “fit” into society, not because a place is denied them but because they do not take their “places” seriously. They openly see its roles as theatrical, its styles as poses, its clothing costumes, its rules conventional, its crises arranged, its conflicts performed, and its metaphysics ideological.

James Carse – Finite and Infinite Games [amazon]

See also:

James Carse on Finite Games, boundaries and licenses
Champion, or Ways to Win (1)
New axes (play your own game)
Cats in Sacks; or, Lomba Karung

Unreal City: T. S. Eliot’s Wasteland Jukebox feat. Dall-E [known to be the wisest woman in Europe]

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...