The End of Art

I shall give you fair warning that this post is for advanced occultists only. The conceptual convolutions performed within may destroy the minds of lesser individuals.


Disney has had a doom-bringer of a film locked and loaded for several weeks now and today is the day that they shall fire it upon our children through a thousand multi-plex cannons. It is called "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" and it is a clear sign of the apocalypse. The great unknown of the Hundred Acre Woods has been hunted, captured and repackaged as a little cute purple thing with a British accent.

For those who can't clearly recall the literary masterwork "Winnie the Pooh," here is a short excerpt.

ONE DAY, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly: "I saw a Heffalump to-day Piglet."
"What was it doing?" asked Piglet
"Just lumping along," said Christopher Robin. "I don't think it saw me."
"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."
"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.
"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.
"Not now," said Piglet.
"Not at this time of year," said Pooh.
Then they talked about something else, until it was time for Pooh and Piglet to go home together.


While there are many tales dedicated to the Heffalump, this is the closest a Heffalump comes to actually appearing anywhere in the works of A.A. Milne. The Heffalump is something we have all seen, but we can't remember exactly when. The Heffalump is that dark, shadowy lump, lumping along, just out of sight; always either almost about to appear or just having left.

Pooh and Piglet hunt the Heffalump, they discuss it with great earnestness and conviction, they imagine conversations with the beast. Nonetheless, the Heffalump remains nothing but hints and half-memories, footprints in the leaves, an awesome rumbling in the distance.

Jacques Lacan, who is, aside from Xenophanes, the smartest man who ever lived, believed that the Real was that which necessarily fell just outside the grasp of language.

Lacan's psychoanalytic techniques also revolved around the notion of the Symbolic order. The Symbolic order consists of all the qualities we have marked off in our experience, of every type of predication we may wish to perform and of every thing to which we can attach a predicate. The Symbolic order was, for Lacan, the entirety of our experience and, in a very real way, where we actually lived our lives. Lacan felt that only things which were part of the Symbolic order could exist. For Lacan the Real was not to be equated with existent things; existent things have, so to speak, the backing of the Real.

Lacan believes that the Symbolic order necessarily breaks down around any incursion of the Real. Instead of being directly accessible, the Real is designated by the 'gap' that it leaves in the Symbolic order. The 'gap' is a space, a lack, an emptiness, but that does not mean that it is simply an absence of being. Rather, Lacan tells us that "when speaking of this gap one is dealing with an ontological function." The Real does not have any being and it is utterly unknowable, but it is always ready to invest its force, always ready to impose its presence on the Symbolic order. It is in this investing of presence, this shaping of conscious experience, that the Real has meaning for the human subject.

Likewise, the Heffalump is an absence in the text, a dark shifting absence, which leaves space for all those massive shadows that lurk in the forest of literature. The Heffalump is a vast giant moving through utter darkness, apparent only indirectly, veiled in its own absence, granted form only by a triangulation upon tell-tale traces. Like the lowly electron, we can never simultaneously hold two pieces of information about the Heffalump, we can know where it has been, but never where it is. The more precisely we try to describe this mercurial beast, the more certain we become that we are actually talking about something else. The Heffalump is clearly an analogue of the Real, the most difficult metaphysical concept imaginable, and yet A.A. Milne has rendered it in terms that a child can appreciate, if not understand.

A.A. Milne's Heffalump was the single greatest metaphor in all of art. It left the door open to reality, to the unconscious and to all those things which are beyond the grasp of language, and now Disney Co. has plugged that door with a little, droopy purple elephant. And so ends the long and glorious life of Man as Artist.

The more often we repeat old films in watered down forms, the more doors we slam in the hallway of art, the deeper we descend into Baudrillard's hyper-reality. Pooh's Heffalump Movie clearly demonstrates that art is dead, that men and women will never again be moved to action by the creative act. Never again will art point to real life and demand action of us. Instead it will own repeat mind-numbing formulas and make clever references to brand-name products, tying us tighter and tighter in the bonds of post-freedom consumer culture.

The Apocalypse -- Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A.A. Milne's Heffalump was the single greatest metaphor in all of art."

Herr Colonel Professor Doctor Von Mustard: Perhaps when you make claims like this, you should spell more correctly in the surrounding text. Or less correctly. One of the two.

-Farmer, leader of the Yorgonation

1:02 p.m.  
Blogger Matthew Lie - Paehlke said...

Well out with it you dirty Yorgonian!
Which is it? More or less correct spelling?!?!

I've had it with Yorgonians and their precious secret knowledge.

3:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But come on now. Have you ever SEEN a purple elephant? I mean, seriously.

Maybe the trailer is just a trick, and the actual movie is 2 hours of a blank screen. That'll teach the little brats!

3:27 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I'd really like to know is how Polkaroo fits into all this? I mean, the guy/girl who claimed never to have seen the "mysterious" beast actually became he/she/it for a short while. Now that's deep.

12:41 p.m.  
Blogger me said...

but it's huggable and cute, so can't we all just snuggle with it?

4:13 p.m.  

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