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STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
On "Stupid" - Page 10

The illogic of this proposition cannot entirely eliminate its force. We are caught up in culture's inability to purge itself of the inanity utterly native to it. The patent stupidity of certain postmodern works of art, and of the commentary that tags along behind them, is a symptom of a virulent truth that infects everything and everyone, the holy blood of Van Gogh, Cezanne at his sublime labors, the Sistine Chapel englobing a void, empty frame after empty frame, vast libraries of special pleading, the whole dumb hollow of culture.

[7] Criticism as stupidity; the inanity of intelligence and the intelligence of inanity; the absurd hybrid of critical theory and blatant foolishness that today constitutes all that is left of the critical. One must assess the force of this stupidity without simply reasserting for oneself, however tacitly, the superiority of critical intelligence. "Stupid" is no more a term of derision here than it is a term of praise; it is crucial not to mistake this epithet for a gesture of rejection, an attempt to mark out and claim for oneself any critical distance. It indicates a cultural condition that can hardly be embraced but that the pathetic enterprise of criticism is powerless to overcome by the application of more rigorous intellectual tools. We are pursuing a logic for which we have no taste; it binds and tangles one's writing in the most maddening ways; but ultimately the stupid underground constitutes a critique of criticism that must be taken up, however aggravating it is, precisely because it is aggravating. The spectacle of the masocritic trying to give stupidity its due while thinking it through with all the proper rigor, using it to judge himself judging, to judge judgment itself, humiliating himself, elaborating his own discourse as the vehicle of a death that is anything but heroic or sublime: let us take this as the true spectacle of criticism. Stupid vigilance, resistance to what one has already made certain would occur, and would have occurred in any case. Such a project will appear to you merely frivolous, self-indulgently self-defeating, like the course of the fabulous bird that flies in tighter and tighter circles until it disappears up its own asshole. Masocriticism must not defend itself against this perfect and proper charge. What it seeks is precisely guilt by association, stupid abasement. If it is therefore impossible for me to be either on the side of this essay or at any remove from it, that is, for me, its "value." Its ethical value: its stupid value.

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