Re: “The Writing on the Wall” in the Weekly’s March 14–20 issue. I assume Doug Harvey was simply setting up his assault on a bunch of disappointing shows when he whined that he gets out to galleries “at least once a month,” that he only goes to galleries when an out-of-town friend is visiting, and that he can “hardly make it to the galleries anymore.” Still, taken at face value, it’s an appalling, pathetic, snobbish and cheesy complaint to hear from a weekly art critic. If he really means it, he should consider quitting. Give someone with more energy and enthusiasm a chance. Looking endlessly at art — good, bad and indifferent — is his job. Not only that, it’s how a critic gets good at his job.
Harvey snivels, “How much crap is one expected to endure and keep coming back? One good shot out of 20?” In the 20 or so years I’ve been in the art world, I’ve found that the ratio of crap to non-crap has remained pretty consistent. Harvey writes as if Los Angeles were in some sort of dismal, dark age for art. If he thinks things are so bad and boring there, again, he should leave immediately, go someplace where the art is better. Or maybe he should get away from art altogether . . .
Let’s make a deal. The L.A. Weekly borrows me from the Village Voice for four months, preferably winter months. The Weekly pays me a ridiculous amount of money, puts me up in an apartment and provides a car. I’ll go to 20 galleries a week and I’ll write about what’s good and bad out there. And I won’t whimper.
—Jerry Saltz Senior Art Critic, Village Voice New York City
It's sad to read that your arts writer can't be bothered to actually go to the galleries in L.A. unless prodded, and even sadder that he has resigned himself to believing that the art scene here is an exercise in futility, dominated by crap. Sure, not everything you see is stellar, but the defeatism implied in Mr. Harvey's analysis is a body blow to those of use trying to run art spaces in L.A.
Mr. Harvey should find another job, and leave art writing to those who take joy in the adventure of discovering art worth writing about, which if he even bothered to look for it can be found all over this city. Sure, there's crap out there, just like in every other field, but keep looking: There's is no shortage of worthwhile art to write about.
Margaret Wertheim should have checked her references a little more closely when she quoted mathematician Kurt Goedel in her article “To Infinity and Beyond” [March 7–13]. Goedel’s theorem does not say that every mathematical system contains paradoxes (propositions that can be proved both true and false). If this were the case, then our systems of mathematics would be useless for describing the world around us. Rather, Goedel’s theorem states that no sufficiently developed mathematical system can be both paradox-free and completely provable. What this means is that there are mathematical statements which cannot be proved or disproved, a quite different affair from what Margaret describes.
It was wonderful to finally read a simple and complete condemnation of Christopher Hitchens’ recent about-face in Doug Ireland’s “Getting Bush Whacked” [March 14–20]. What, one wonders, would Hitchens’ self-annointed patron saint George Orwell think of his backing of the despotic Bush regime? Orwell must be turning over in his grave to find that Hitchens thinks the best way to deal with the Fascists in Spain would have been to invade Angola, a rough analogy to the present plan of the Bushites to invade Iraq as a means of dealing with Osama & Co.
Hitchens deludes himself if he thinks Bush actually hopes to get rid of the “terrists.” The Bush goons have been masturbating to dreams of a Global American Empire (a U.S. Army/Halliburton Joint Venture) since childhood and have now found the perfect umbrella to cover all contingencies at home and abroad. The neocon (and old-con, I suppose) hawks have always been hunting for new enemies to justify reductions in our civil liberties and increases in our martial proclivities. Now they have the perfect enemy, an enemy (Iraq today, Iran tomorrow, Yemen the day after) to which they apply their fuzzy logic and justify any defense budget, any degree of secrecy, and a series of calls to arms discreetly timed to affect elections appropriately — a state of governance of which I have a hard time imagining Orwell approving.
As Doug Ireland “talks” to Christopher Hitchens, it’s easy to notice that Hitchens isn’t always listening. In fact, Hitchens isn’t always talking. I’m glad that Ireland has such famous friends, but it’s also a shame that no one would listen to his drivel except in the context of interviewing someone of renown.