Christopher Turner (LRB 5 July 2012) in his review of the Barbican exhibition: Bauhaus: Art as Life, quotes Gropius’s manifesto that called for a unity between art and craft, a unity that would ‘rise one day towards heaven from the hands of a million workers like the crystalline symbol of a new faith’ and to facilitate ‘a community that wanted to create a new man in a new environment.’
Where do any of us stand in relation to this linchpin of an ambition? What sort of work or practice would it take to bring enough light into our beings to make us ‘better’ people? Do we even believe that it is possible? And what is the evidence for change in us?
Visiting an old friend recently, it seemed to me that he was much the same as he was when I met him more than forty years ago. There was the same strong ethical thread informing his behaviour as well as being an opportunistic chancer who was able to charm his way across social, professional and bureaucratic boundaries. And when I, in turn, reflected on any possible changes in me that I could detect, I see the same short sighted, shy individual with a poor instinctive sense of reality, who has to rely on books to aid him in building some useable concepts of reality. Sort of.
Because there is a strand of doubt which hardly believes that locked into our subjective/objective tensions we have never and will never finally describe reality. And this idea or belief is central to this blog and then, of course, there is a but, quite a big but:
But we can be tantalised, seduced, persuaded, entertained, enraged and engaged as we pursue these strange and surprising, not to say outrageous, gods of language.