The Theory of the Avant-Garde and Practice

“The Theory of the Avant-Garde and Practice” by Libbie Rifkin at The Argotist Online, here. Excerpt:

“Enzensberger traces the military roots of the term “avant-garde,” breaking it down into its component parts and pushing each to its aporetic limit. The first aporia emerges when the avant-garde moves from the synchrony of the battle field to the diachrony of historical progress. Confronting the enemy up ahead, the “en avant of the avant-garde would, as it were, realize the future in the present, anticipate the course of history”. In spite of tremendous advances in prognostication by the “consciousness industry,” this is, of course, impossible. And yet the whole system depends on this impossibility; the avant-garde is the engine of advancement for the main body of artistic works, but the scene of its reception is, by definition, always just out of reach.  The avant-garde’s value, in fact its very identity, can only be determined by the future generations for whom it is already passé.”

Via Jeffrey Side

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