05/02/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Blague d'Art, March 1, 2010

The left brain says, hey, it's Monday, March 1, you've just seen some great shows, you've been thinking about some vast issues (well, vast for the art world - okay, for artists and those who love them), and, since you missed January 1, this is the perfect time to start blogging. Carpe diem! Yeah, you! The right brain says, aww, it's a beautiful day here in the Southland, you have other deadlines to worry about, maybe a poem to write, wouldn't March fourth (get it?) be better? The argument seems Odd Couple-intractable. This looks like a job for.... corpus colossum!

And that's how blogs get written, I guess, not when the noise inside your head spills out your ears, but when you find the right words for that noise. Otherwise, you can rant all you want at openings and gossip all you want on the phone and schmooze on Facebook with everyone from Jerry Saltz to your ex-spouse about matters you find urgent. But all that seems a rehearsal for Something More Profound, or at least Something More Lucid. The trick here in the blahgosphere is to post that Something More Lucid without condescending, without throwing lightning bolts (made of butter) from your own Mt. Olympus (a stepstool in your kitchen), and certainly without eating up all your wiggle room. You can't Make Pronouncements without painting yourself - and others - into a corner. That was fine for the Age of Ideology, but now, on the nether side of Post Modernism, the Big Certainty - or what seems to us the "arrogant purpose" of a Clement Greenberg - seems neither attainable nor desirable. (Besides, go back to Greenberg's writings, and you'll find plenty more rumination than fulmination.)

But you can't be equivocal, either. You can't simply take a pass on matters you bring up. You can shrug and say you simply dunno, but you have to do it in a way that reflects your sense that the issue itself is dunnoable, and more compelling for that. You can't just throw out a tantalizing generality, unless you're setting yourself (and your readers) up to knock it out of the park (or bunt) in the next blog. You can leave questions unanswered, but those questions themselves have to stay fresh and piquant until you chomp down on them.

Okay, I'll set myself up: folks, Painting Is Back. And is that a good thing?

For the right brain's sake, the next post will be March 4 (or so). And once we get this baby up and running, expect to see me go back and forth between think-piece omphaloskepsis like the above and discussions of shows and artstuff I get to see here in the Los Angeles area and where'er else I travel. This blog will not be a diary, but it will be temporally pegged. It will be a kind of journal, although by and large it will not be journalistic. (I come from a line of journalists, and the ghosts of my father and grandfather rear up whenever I fail to check my data and sources.) I love reviewing shows, so I'll try to review something in every post. There will be huge areas of art-world concern that I won't touch, not out of fear so much as out of acknowledged ignorance or distance from the issue or simple discretion (which is a better way of manifesting caution than fear itself). I don't think I have any axes to grind, but who knows? I might come across a few woodpiles in my wanderings.

At the outset, I'll ask you only to indulge my metaphor-mashing. Everything else, as Ad Reinhardt admonished, is everything else.