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  • Undoing Sophisticated Illusions:Bricolage Genealogy and Resonant Iconic Similarity

This article, aimed at transcultural education, examines the juncture of race and aesthetics. It argues that implicit in the hybrid identities produced by modern imperialism and colonialism is a more global figure of humanity. That figure remains suppressed by lingering race/ethnocentrism in contemporary art discourse. Postmodernist framing of art/culture as "language" has generally weakened the strong conceit of difference. But that progress is offset by failure to acknowledge how globally distributed and "pre/non-modern" that insight is, effectively making it exclusively "Western." Furthermore, postmodern linguisticism's strong identification with verbal language maintains civilized/primitive dualisms, perpetuating the denigration of nonliterate cultures.

Unfortunately, it also compromises the communicative efficacy of art/material culture. Consequently, linguisticism becomes a knot inhibiting the turn from racism to recognizing the relational origination of differences and their emergence from iconic similarity. Pivoting around iconic similarity uncovers the diverse non-Euro-Western genealogies of bricolage, collage, and cubism entangled and obscured by the resilient conceit of difference in différance. It redresses the asymmetry of attributing the deconstructive insight associated with bricolage/collage exclusively to postmodernist authorities. Nagarjuna's critique of self-generation, modernism's essential assumption, helps make the case for iconic similarity and for promoting it as a better basis for art-education theory and practice.


This paper returns to the juncture of race, culture, and aesthetics in the context of visual-arts education, especially regarding the failure of higher art discourse to be inclusive and comprehensive of others. Though pedagogical curricula in the United States require that K–12 art teachers be trained to promote multiculturalism in their discipline, their training is affected by art history and studio teaching in which Eurocentrism generally persists. Instructors in studio and art history programs seldom identify as "art educators," most likely because art education is regarded as a hybrid, impure discipline. And, as will be shown, hybridity is a problem for notions of purity. Multiculturalism, if part of studio and art history professional training, is most likely so to the extent that civil rights movements, but especially postmodernism, and to a lesser degree postcolonialism, have influenced their programs. They are a legacy of tendencies countering varieties of conceit of difference, particularly ideas about racial differences propagated by "race science," which emerged in the nineteenth century at the height of European imperialism.

The emphasis of "race science" on biological and genetic species difference chained culture to biology, banking on the latter's seeming inflexibility to maintain established social hierarchies. Discrimination on the basis [End Page 22] of color and phenotype, already a fact of social practice, was given "scientific" validation as the sign system for cultural discrimination. Colonialism needed rational justification, especially given the turn away from religious justification that the Enlightenment accomplished. Race science provided that justification: "naturally" inferior races needed to be dominated and civilized by "naturally" superior ones. As both an emergent product of and contributor to discriminatory codes, race science was symptomatic of heightened postslavery anxiety about biological and cultural impurity. While "race science" would not have considered its practices and theories aesthetic, the triangle of biology, culture, and reason can certainly be comprehended in aesthetics. But, then, aesthetics and the aesthetic must shed their derogatory connotations.

Aesthetics emerged as part of the current of eighteenth-century Enlightenment rationality. However, if its localized emergence in Germany through the person of Alexander Baumgarten was on the one hand an innovative gesture, opening up "the whole terrain of sensation," according to Terry Eagleton, on the other, what Baumgarten wanted to open it up to was "in effect the colonization of reason."1 The term colonization connects the psychological and social domains to the rational and race. Robert Young captures race science's deep anxiety about hybridity/impurity:

The idea of race here shows itself to be profoundly dialectical: it only works when defined against potential intermixture, which also threatens to undo its calculations altogether. This antagonistic structure acts out the tensions of a conflictual culture which defines itself through racial ideologies.2

The conflictual culture in which the Enlightenment's cultural icon, the rational man, functioned, was the source of his anxiety. The term "conflictual culture" implies that relations with others can be differently conceived. The terms culture and civilization, initially used interchangeably, soon came to distinguish the "subjective" aspects of a society as "culture," in contrast to sociopolitical machinery, which the term civilization described. The racially coded civilized/savage dialectic took on new significance in the context of imperial nations, industrialized capitalism, colonialism, and industrialized war. Two twentieth-century world wars and many other local ones thereafter reiterate the question: what distinguishes the civilized from the savage? In the twenty-first-century United States, cell phone videos record the continuing problematic relationship between race, national culture, and aesthetics.

The racial assumptions about human beings that created the color-coded civilized/savage binary were deeply problematized in art discourse by the crucial role primitivism played in transforming Euro-modern culture, [End Page 23] visual arts, and aesthetics. In the Euro-modernist scheme, three movements were central to Euro-Western exclusive claims to the emancipative effects of different emerging aesthetics: cubism, expressionism, and surrealism. All three were central to primitivism. As a crucial aspect of Euro-Western imperialism, education, particularly university education with its connections to institutions such as museums and art galleries, was central to the global distribution of the Euro-Western narrative of modernism that denied its hybridity.

Postmodern discourse emerged to challenge the dominant Euro-modernist narrative; it was profoundly affected by the linguistic turn that pervaded philosophy and sociocultural theory, particularly poststructuralism. One consequence of the linguistic turn was to initiate an open critique of formalism. Regarded simply as "formalism," however, formalism's Euro-provincialism goes unrecognized by the majority of postmodern critics and art educators; where recognition occurs, it is in a framework of pluralism and relativism that does not necessarily upset the racial and cultural hierarchies of Euro-modernism. But, then, the equally problematic Euro-provincialism of the postmodern critiques goes unrecognized as such. That lack of recognition delays substantial comprehensive changes in university art teaching, which affects K–12 art education. Even where studio and art history training recognizes the importance of hybridity in identity formation, they work within postmodernism's pluralist relativist scheme. Consequently, the more global comprehensive figures of (human) being implicit in modernism and postmodernism remain inaccessible.

While, on the one hand, postmodernism opened dominant Euro-Western art discourse to countermodern non-European critiques of Euro-modernism, on another hand, those very non-European countermodernisms tended to disappear or appear as weak sources of light in the glare of poststructuralist authorities. In this essay, I argue that much of mainstream postmodern scholarly art/aesthetic discourse work within theory/practice frameworks, even in their most critical "multicultural" forms, have overlooked Eurocentrism's subtle persistence in the higher reaches of art education. They assume, for example, that ignorance of Nagarjuna—Buddhist deconstructivist of the first or second century CE—is excusable, but ignorance of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, or Plato is not; that, if one refers to Rabindranath Tagore, one should be cognizant that one's "audience" (that "universal" university European one) might not have heard of him, and, therefore, you should "contextualize" him, understanding thereby the audience you are addressing. The ethnocentrism involved in the latter assumption is not expected to operate in Kolkuta University or the University of the West Indies. To be unfamiliar with Karl Marx or Walter Benjamin in their case is to be inadequately educated, deficient as scholars. It is the persistence of this asymmetry in academe that prompted Suman Gupta to say, in his reflections [End Page 24] on the deliberations of the Art Seminar's discussion of the question "Is Art History Global,"

I find myself increasingly suspicious of the manner in which the possessive term "Western" is employed in a large variety of intellectual discourses. … The sensitivities that now attach to the idea of "Eurocentrism" appear to be unproblematically deflected by attributing a set of abstract and flowing norms and ideologies to the perpetual possession of the ever-accommodating "West."3

Many of those ideologies labeled modernist, particularly formalism, closely connected to legitimating Euro-modernist art movements, as well as those now labelled poststructuralist and postmodern, attributed to the "linguistic turn," are examples of the "flowing norms" regarded unproblematically as "Western." The hybridity of these forms, their "family resemblance," or, better, conceptual family relation, to ideas historically active in non-Western "premodern" cultures, never or seldom appears in mainstream art discourse. The consequence of this unquestioning attribution of such values and ideologies to the "West" is that cultural asymmetries remain subtly institutionalized from the highest to the lowest levels of art education.

The recognition of hybridity, plurality, and relativity is an important basis for justice and equality. But it can also be, and frequently initially is, a basis for concession to the conceit of difference. Strong recognition of the plurality and emergent differences of cultural entities allows the most characteristic norms of modernity and modernism to be redistributed as competing or alternative modernisms to non-Western others in postmodern and postcolonial contexts. The most characteristic norm of modernism, of course, is the disavowal of interdependence, "relational origination," and coemergence of identities.4 This is where zealous advocacy of social justice curricula by critical multiculturalists and social reconstructivists, unfortunately, is often compromised by art- and aesthetic-education theories that include the acknowledgment of hybridity as Euro-Western comprehension of identity but, nonetheless, effectively furthers the "ever-accommodating West."

The specific concept and practices that will be displaced from being one of the "flowing norms" of the "ever-accommodating West" are those incorporated in the term and concept of bricolage, which Claude Lévi-Strauss called the "primitive" mode. In this essay, bricolage is regarded as incorporating the same principles of formation expressed in collage and assemblage. This essay also argues that nondualist philosophies or attitudes are deeply implicated in bricolage/collage aesthetics. Poststructuralist theories of identity, particularly Derrida's deconstructivist ideas, have shifted Euro-Western philosophies toward nondualist frames. However, Derrida's elaboration of deconstruction, pivoted around the terms difference and différance, led to a silencing and erasure of the overarching framework of iconic [End Page 25] similarity outside of which the two terms—any terms—are, by his own account, inconceivable. "Better the play of difference, which, as Saussure reminds us," Derrida states, "is the condition of the possibility and functioning of every sign, is itself a silent play."5 Where else does the play of difference (and différance) happen but in the silence of iconic similarity, confused in and displaced by différance and the concept of trace? From the perspective of dualism that silence (of iconic similarity), however, appears oppressive; hence, it is disavowed, "reassuring us in our illusion that they are two."6 Derrida's "us" is a multiple person: philosophers, academics, theorists, all arguably Euro-Western: only obliquely the rest of world. In the preface to her translation, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak remarks on the ethnocentrism present in Derrida's Of Grammatology:

The relationship between logocentrism and ethnocentrism is indirectly invoked in the very first sentence of the "Exergue." Yet, paradoxically, and almost by a reverse ethnocentrism, Derrida insists that logocentrism is a property of the West. He does this so frequently that a quotation would be superfluous.7

Derrida makes the point, very pertinent to my argument, that the play of "differ(a)nce" he emphasizes refers "to an order that resists the opposition, one of the founding oppositions of philosophy, between the sensible and the intelligible."8 This opposition was incarnated in modernity/modernism as the color-coded civilized/savage binary, in which black people are identified with the sensible as opposed to the intelligible, dispossessing them—in theory—of any intelligence. The obliqueness of Derrida's references to non-Euro-Western others (terms like pyramidal silence, graphic difference, and references to ideographic, hieroglyphic, and Mayan scripts, and so forth, are examples) unfortunately permitted postmodern discourse to turn his thesis into one of "the perpetual possession[s] of the ever-accommodating 'West.'"9 This essay's discussion of bricolage/collage nondualist aesthetics will be used to make iconic similarity palpable, return those "flowing norms" to global humanity, and affect a critique of the role linguisticism plays in maintaining the civilized/savage binary.10

This is not to dispossess Euro-Western cultures of cubism, bricolage/collage, or deconstruction, but to comprehend and elaborate the significance of their African and Asian legacies to a transcultural art-educational theory and practice. It is also to highlight the hybridity of all modernisms and deflect their exclusionary bases of identity. The latter tendency traps identities in elaborate subterfuges of displacement and "passing": passing as pure white European, passing as pure black African, passing as pure Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth, and displacing onto some other or others deficiencies of identity we do not want to acknowledge as self. Most of all, the tendency seeks to ensure that irrationality, identified with premodern and [End Page 26] precivilized development, is always integral to the constitution of devalued others, never integral to making the modern civilized self.

Modernist Primitivism and Postmodern Criticism

After the short-lived outrage that greeted the birth of fauvism and cubism, the larger identity and freedom they implied were quickly turned into an inherently Euro-Western property by prevailing racial conceit. Cubism, the "mulatto" child, particularly embodied transcultural theory-practice and the transcultural potential of emerging aesthetics and art practice most cogently. In English-speaking cultures, formalist aesthetics, as articulated by Clive Bell, Roger Fry, and later Clement Greenberg, did the major work of reducing the other cultural presences in modernism to the status of mere raw material, which only the sublimating power of the Euro-Western mind could turn into art and aesthetic theory. Because cubism seemed to embody and comprehend a radically new understanding of form—of being, really—Euro-Western art discourse moved quickly to distance it from any taint of intercourse with African cultures and employed every strategy it could to do so.

A key strategy in creating that distance was the invention of the "Negro period." It was designed to reduce the black African presence in cubism to a footnote. That goal was achieved when Greenberg wrote Art and Culture in 1961.11 The "Negro period" of cubism was not invented by Greenberg or Alfred Barr, but the latter certainly helped institutionalize it in Euro-modernist discourse in his 1946 book Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art. He could say with confidence then, "by the end of 1907 Picasso had passed through the barbaric phase of his 'Negro' period.'"12 Picasso's misunderstanding of African aesthetics was turned into an "accurate" embodiment of it, so that whatever followed the "Negro period" could be presented as pure European creation, and Picasso could remain and cubism become culturally purely European. To think otherwise would—and this is the terrible thought for Barr and whoever invented the "Negro period"—be admitting that the aesthetics embodied in African art transformed and translated Euro-Western art practice and theory into something other: indeed, into a broader and deeper understanding of aesthetics, being human, and "being" generally. The latter expanded insight Euro-modernism could own; the culturally limited aesthetic, unpalatable for the civilized to own, had to be displaced on to the primitive.

Forty years later, in 1985, the Museum of Modern Art's (MOMA) "Primitivism in 20th Century Art" exhibition opened. It purported to acknowledge and comprehend modernism's substantial debt to primitive arts. The exhibition, erected in the museum's metropolitan space, appeared to demonstrate a parity of civilized and savage, but it was just that "appearance" and formal "affinity" that drew criticism from an until then subordinate current of art critical discourse. I will focus on two of those critical reviews of MOMA's [End Page 27] "Primitivism" show, James Clifford's and Hal Foster's. Clifford's represents the growing influence of anthropology on art criticism and art history and Foster's that of poststructuralism. The two authors exposed the show's deep Euro-ethnocentrism. For all its grand intention of doing justice to the contributions of "primitive" cultures to modern art by recognizing their objects as "Art," the curators of "Primitivism in 20th Century Art" could not see that "primitivism" naturalized Euro-modernity's imperial condescension and racism. My intent in focusing on these two critiques of MOMA's "Primitivism" exhibition is to show that even the most thorough unmasking of Euro-ethnocentrism did not result in erasing the assumed inequality of "primitives."

James Clifford's Critique

Clifford's critique located MOMA's "Primitivism" show in the aesthetic part of a larger aesthetic-anthropological system: a system aimed simultaneously at digesting and preserving "primitive culture" for Euro-Western subjects, who are distinguished from his/her non-European—especially primitive—others by his/her modernity and self-evident superior civilization. The modern civilized person ostensibly can comprehend "primitive" persons, whereas the latter ostensibly cannot comprehend modern civilized persons. Advanced science and technology account for the "self-evident" evaluation of "superior civilization." Never-before-seen science and technologies, created by Europeans, linking nations and cultures into a global world by a network of communication systems—railways, telegraphs, telephones, planes, cars, ships—are the evidence. But science and technology also, seemingly indisputably, subordinated the rest of the world to the interests of Euro-Western culture, which validated Darwinian schemes of progress from crude primitive savagery to enlightened modern civilization.

For Clifford, the anthropological "preservative" part of that system was typified in another 1984 exhibition, "The Hall of Pacific Peoples," dedicated to Margaret Mead, at the American Museum of Natural History, also located in New York. For all the good "redemptive" intentions of the prevailing aesthetic-anthropological system, it nevertheless did not and could not recognize the "primitive" subject as an equal human being. In Clifford's opinion, in the aesthetic-anthropological system, "primitives" would always be ahistorical "aesthetic" objects or "primitive" subjects, trapped in a past outside the modernity and civilization of Euro-Western subjects to confirm the latter's modernity and civilization. Nevertheless, Clifford's sympathy for primitives works within certain assumptions, evident when he states,

The non-Western objects that excited Picasso, Derain, and Léger broke into the realm of official Western art from outside. They were quickly integrated, recognized as masterpieces, and given homes within an [End Page 28] anthropological-aesthetic object system. By now this process has been sufficiently celebrated. We need exhibitions that question the boundaries of art and the art world, an influx of truly indigestible "outside" artifacts.13

The above quote is the first part of an interesting paragraph. It shows that Clifford desires to change the relations between cultures from their current basis in objectification.

The world Clifford desires may be a postmodern one of genuine recognition of others and true equality, but it still resonates with Mead's anthropological motive to preserve/save/redeem non-Western, especially "primitive," others. Admittedly, it does so differently, by privileging inauthenticity, disjunctive heterogeneity, and hybridity. However, the inauthenticity, heterogeneity, and hybridity Clifford imagines as characteristic of marginalized others are all outside and atypical of Euro-Western subjectivity and typical of "them." The plurality and the natural "incoherence" that their differences and improvising appropriativeness accomplish redistribute Euro-modernist exclusive claims to dynamic self-transforming agency—the peculiar badge of modernity and modernism—among non-Western cultures, but in lower potencies and as incoherence. Hence, Clifford states,

The relations of power whereby one portion of humanity can select, value and collect the pure products of others needs to be criticized and transformed. This is no small task. In the meantime one can at least imagine shows that feature the impure, "inauthentic" products of past and present tribal life; exhibitions radically heterogeneous in their global mix of styles; exhibitions that locate themselves in specific multicultural junctures; exhibitions in which nature remains "unnatural"; exhibitions whose principles of incorporation are openly questionable.14

The quote above follows the one before. Exhibitions of visible impurity and radical heterogeneity should be promoted … of tribal cultures. But the problem is that the globally institutionalized aesthetic/anthropological system "passes" Euro-modernism" as purely European and purely modern. Postmodern recognition of heterogeneity and plurality, which underlies Clifford's critique, may have sought to change the prevailing modernist anthropological-aesthetic system, but the switched emphasis on the radical heterogeneity, global mixture, impurity/hybridity of the tribal has not redistributed power sufficiently to change the institutionalized aesthetic-anthropological system that mediates art-culture identities and values to students through a globally connected university system. The picture postmodernism offered was not essentially different to modernism. Even though it appreciated the constructed evanescent nature of identity, postmodernism produced a stable but ever-consuming, seemingly "ever accommodating," and ever-expanding Euro-Western constituency, standing over against a [End Page 29] (now) changing disconnected plurality of non-Euro-Western constituencies.15 Among those constituencies, "primitive" appropriation remains wild, savage, and "incoherent."

Incoherence presented as a badge of resistance to imperial civilization reeks of romanticism and primitivism. The latter effectively disconnect appropriation from deliberate choosing of it as an aesthetic practice over other alternatives. They also leave in place assumptions that practitioners of appropriative aesthetics and preference for conceptual "making" over perceptual "matching"—E. H. Gombrich's formulation of schematic bias—are not part of diversified, stratified cultures, with uneven interacting histories. Reduced to one level and apparently sealed local traditions, African (and "primitive") cultures are made to seem more universally unconscious of the intellectual and universal value/significance of their choices. In contrast, we are to assume that Euro-Western subjects, from mayor to peon, comprehend "Difference in Identity" philosophy as sophisticatedly as philosophy scholars.16 There remains an assumption that recognition of bricolage's value cannot be realized outside the global connectivity that Euro-Western cultures created, to which Euro-Westerners have unique access, and of which they have a unique comprehension. Non-Western cultures, especially "primitive" ones, can only be unconsciously aware of the value appropriation bricolage has. They are unaware of the hybridity/heterogeneity, constellational/configuration, and arti-factual nature of the cultural object-identities they produce. Not only does the animistic-ritualistic context in which the majority of "primitive" objects function effectively keep primitive practitioners and their "objects" outside the civilized concept of art and art history, it is proof that they are not art. Hence, commenting on the "Primitivism" show and the debate a decade later, eminent historian Hans Belting could assert unequivocally that "what is true of primitivism was by no means true of the 'primitives' themselves, whom we expected to find outside the boundary of any [italics inserted] art history."17

Hal Foster's Critique

Foster's critique drills into the exhibition's Euro-ethnocentric anxiety to expose Euro-modern civilization's projection of its historical ignorance and troubled coherence onto others as their magical fears, incoherence, and unscientific irrationality. "As the very crux of MOMAism, analytical cubism in particular must be protected from outside influence," Foster asserts, evidently aware of MOMA's deep need to distance this pivotal moment of Euro-modernism from the archetypal primitive African culture and the agency of its "objects":18

In the "Primitivism" show, a transgressive model of modernism was glimpsed, one which, repressed by the formalist account, might [End Page 30] have displaced the MOMA model—its "Hegelian" history, its "Bauhausian" ideals, its formalist historicist operation (e.g. of abstraction achieved by analytical reduction within the patriarchal line: Manet … Cézanne … Picasso: within Western tradition). This displacement, however, was only a feint: this "new" model—that the very condition of the so-called modern break with tradition is a break outside it—was suggested, occluded, and recouped. With transgression without rendered as dialectic within, the official model of modern art—a multiplicity of breaks reinscribed (by the artist/critic) into a synthetic line of formal innovations—is preserved, as is the causal time of history, the narrative space of the museum.19

In a nutshell, art history and criticism quickly ensured the purity of the Euro-modern art objects-subjects. MOMA had not moved from Barr's position mentioned earlier. But it did something more deeply conceited, "on the one hand, the primitivist incorporation of the other is another form of conquest (if a more subtle one than the imperialist extraction of labor and materials)," states Foster, "on the other, it serves as its displacement, its disguise, even its excuse."20

Foster is right about the imperialism and deception involved, but, unfortunately, his focus is still on what the "primitive" could have been or could have done to/for Euro-Western subjectivity and its art concept, if the transformation, which intercourse with the "primitive" had set in motion, had not been blocked by the inertia of Euro-Western fear of losing its civilized self, which the exhibition through its formalism reproduced. As a corrective, Foster therefore emphasizes the "subversive" value the "primitive" and "primitive practice" could have had to "traditional" Euro-Western aesthetics, not their value as an alternative "normal" mode of interacting with the world. The elevation of "modernism" into superior Euro-Western cultural currency, via Euro-Western primitivism and formalism, was not inevitable. In his opinion, alternatives were available, which could have affected a shift in Euro-Western aesthetics and critical practices.

This potential turned Foster to examining the function of primitivism for the Euro-Western psyche generally. "As a fetishistic recognition- and-disavowal of difference, primitivism involves a (mis)construction of the other. That much is clear," Foster states. "But it also involves a (mis)recognition of the same."21 This effectively is the process involved in what Clifford described as the anthropological-aesthetic system, which makes nonliterate technologically simple cultures available to Euro-Western art and science by characterizing them as "primitive," not as other alternative humanity and identity-in-different-selves. Technological sophistication and "literacy," ostensibly the only criteria for admission to real humanity and civilization, preclude the possibility of other forms of sophisticated society, intellectual conceptions of mind, life, and being. Deeper problems lurk in the conception of mind, life, and being that the civilized/primitive, science/magic, art/ [End Page 31] idol-icon-fetish, West/rest dialectics tend to assume. As insightful as Foster's critique is, it stays within the Euro-West/rest framing of art, culture, and human being. The limitations of that framework in comprehending and advancing transcultural aesthetics and pedagogy are shown in his elaboration of the glimmers of hope he saw in three interrelated moments of Euro-Western art history: anthropology, dissident surrealism, and bricolage.

For Foster, the "dissident surrealists" provide the crucial countermodern mode. They "present, if not a 'counterprimitivism' as such, then at least a model of how the otherness of the primitive might be thought disruptively, not recuperated abstractly."22 The second, and perhaps most crucial, of the three moments is bricolage, a term that emerged out of a marriage, rather than opposition, of anthropological knowledge and aesthetic practice in the persons of the dissident surrealists. In Foster's narrative, the dissident surrealists and bricolage are opposed to the "aestheticizing" mode of the fauves and cubists, who tended to work oblivious of the "contexts and codes of the primitive."23 Hence, he states,

And when these "ethnographic surrealists" did aestheticize, it tended to be in the interests of "cultural impurities and disturbing syncretisms." Which is to say that they prized in the tribal object not its raisonnable form but its bricolé heterogeneity, not its mediatory possibilities but its transgressive value. In short, the primitive appeared less as a solution to Western aesthetic problems than as a disruption of Western solutions. Rather than seek to master the primitive—or, alternatively, to fetishize its difference into opposition or identity—these primitivists welcomed "the unclassified, unsought Other."24

Foster realizes that he may be erecting a problematic opposition of the aesthetic and transgressive; it may not get his theory/practice out of the aesthetic-anthropological system that presumes Euro-Western superiority to others, primitive and/or not-modern. But it seems unavoidable. Therefore, he follows the above quote with this observation:

It is most likely excessive (and worse, dualistic!) to oppose these two readings of the primitive—the one concerned to incorporate the primitive, the other eager to transgress with it—and to extrapolate the latter into a counterpractice to the former.

(Again, such a counterpractice is not for the West to supply.)25

Questions lurk around this observation: which "West" is this? Who is the referent of the two readings of the primitive? Should one assume that collage, assemblage, montage are not variant terms for bricolage? Why are they, and not bricolage, a part of Euro-modernist "aestheticizing?" Is "bricolage" simply a strategy from the "primitives" perspective? The crucial value of bricolage for Foster—which, he reminds readers, Lévi-Strauss, influenced [End Page 32] by the surrealists, defined as a "primitive mode"—is that it is a strategic, not fundamental, practice

by which the other might appropriate the forms of the modern capitalist West and fragment them with indigenous ones in a reflexive, critical montage of synthetic contradictions. Such bricolage might in turn reveal that Western culture is hardly the integral "engineered" whole that it seems to be but that it too is bricolé (indeed, Derrida has deconstructed the Lévi-Strauss opposition bricoleur/engineer to the effect that the latter is the product, the myth of the former).26

Through the connections between the dissident surrealist, bricolage, and the third agent in his scenario of hope, anthropology incorporated in Lévi-Strauss, Foster leads readers, who he seems to presume are all Euro-Westerners, to the climactic section of his essay, a collision of two readings of the primitive encounter with the West. The first reading, "positions the primitive as a moment in the 'luminous spread' of Western reason; the second, a genealogy, traces how the primitive, taken into this order, returns to disrupt it."27 The second narrative is that in which "the primitive returns uncannily at the moment of its potential eclipse … [to become] our postmodern event."28 According to Foster's narrative, in postmodernism the primitive, re-emergent in Western culture as its scandal, "links up genealogically with poststructuralist deconstruction and politically with feminist theory and practice. In this passage the primitive other is transformed utterly, and here in particular its real world history must be thought."29

For a moment, I was tempted to think that the real world history, or a significant part of it, that had to be thought, was that of the utterly transformed "primitive" African (the "perfect" primitive). It was not: or perhaps I had trouble recognizing it. The genealogy elaborated was that connecting the dissident surrealists to the poststructuralists:

This genealogy is not as conjectural as it may seem: connections between certain "ethnographic surrealists" and poststructuralists are there to be traced. The intermediary figures are Lacan, Lévi-Strauss, and, above all, Bataille, whose notions of dépense and la part maudite, developed out of Mauss's theory of the gift, have influenced Baudrillard, and whose notion of transgression has influenced Foucault and Derrida. On this reading, if the early moderns sublated the primitive into reason, the dissident surrealists thought it transgressively; but it was left to poststructuralism and feminism to theorize it, however transformed in position and effectivity.30

How is the function of this genealogy different to what Foster discerned as the function of modernist formalism as epitomized in MOMA's Primitivism show? How is this not an example of "transgression without rendered [End Page 33] as dialectic within," referenced earlier? Or how does this genealogy, filled only with names of Euro-Western savants, not occlude the larger transcultural global implications of the modern-civilized savage-primitive encounter? How does it not recoup a remorseful Euro-postmodern subject as the reservoir of self-conscious knowledge, utterly and safely detached from a pathetic primitive object? How is this not the normal modernist translation of black unconscious subject matter into white superconsciousness? Is the only substantial subject, emergent in the field of difference, capable of challenging "Western pretenses of sovereignty, supremacy, and self-creation," the white Euro-Western person, male or female, after all?31

Foster informs us that "'if the West has produced anthropologists,' Lévi-Strauss writes in Tristes Tropiques, 'it is because it was tormented by remorse,'" holding up the anthropologist as an example of self-critique.32 "Primitivism," he continues, "is touched by this remorse, too."33 Evidently, however, postmodern poststructuralism is touched by a similar remorse, but it too seems insufficient to break out of the aesthetic-anthropological system, which, let us not forget, is driven by racial chauvinism and imperialism. It may be true, as Foster states, that

no white skin fond of black masks can ever recompense the colonial subjection detailed in Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks. To value as art what is now a ruin; to locate what one lacks in what one has destroyed: more is at work here than compensation. Like fetishism, primitivism is a system of multiple beliefs; an imaginary resolution of a real contradiction: repression of the fact that a breakthrough in our art, indeed a regeneration of our culture, is based in part on the breakup and decay of other societies, that the modernist discovery of the primitive is not only in part its oblivion but its death. And the final contradiction or aporia is this: no anthropological remorse, aesthetic elevation, or redemptive exhibition can correct or compensate this loss because they are all implicated in it.34

He captures how deep a fissure modern imperialism seems to have dredged in human being between human beings and human being. Fondness, romanticism, primitivisms are no compensation for colonial dehumanization. But poststructuralist pivoting of cultural relations around the term and concept difference, traceable back through Derrida to Saussure, did not advance Foster beyond poststructuralism's own remorse, its own subtle residue of ethnocentrism and condescension with regard to the "primitive."35 More revealing is Foster's statement, "To value as art what is now a ruin; to locate what one lacks in what one has destroyed: more is at work here than compensation."36 Foster's unquestionably empathetic gesture, nevertheless, affirms the abyss separating imperial civilized person from devastated savage, even as it appears to reach across it. Its "realism" with Fanon as mirror, turned resolutely on the colonial subject, hides conceit as it reveals only subjugation [End Page 34] and ruins. Perhaps one should not expect a more comprehensive genealogy to be generated from a position that has difficulty seeing flourishing selves in others or that deconstructs bricolage into a "strategy" and collage into an "aesthetic." Can an alternative genealogy be thought?

Modernism's Mulatto Genealogy

Paraphrasing W. E. B. DuBois is a good place to start an alternative genealogy of bricolage aesthetics. How does it feel to be a ruin?37 In spite of Foster's call to focus on living rather than dead marginalized others—women and minorities—within and outside Euro-Western culture, advice more heeded in twenty-first-century texts than before, non-Western, particularly African, subjects are still left with nothing that could be called "civilization" before being "ruins." More problematically, ideas are still packaged as inalienable cultural property: "my" remains a mega motive in "I." The posture of acknowledging subject-centered cultural bias, meant to compensate for past inflated bias and unconsciousness of privilege, is a variant of the anthropologist's remorse. It keeps in place the kind of concession to difference that subtly feeds its conceit and does little to change the dualistic framework in which self/other relations are conceived. The latter arises from subjective misinterpretation of self/difference's irreducibility and uniqueness to be evidence of self-creation and comprehensive superiority. In the conflictual dialectic of dualism, self in the conceit of its difference may still see itself as expansive and ever-accommodating and regard others as fragmented, ruins.

"'Get use to your color the way I get use to my stump.'"38 That is Fanon's reproduction of a war veteran's advice to colored people. This is what modernism's and postmodernism's one-sided genealogies ask black and darker people to accept. Here Fanon's "Yet, with all my being, I refuse to accept this amputation" must be reiterated.39 One must keep firmly in mind, however, that Fanon's refusal comes after he had rejected Jean-Paul Sartre's characterization of Negritude's affirmation of black identity as a weak phase of a Hegelian dialectical progression and after he had said, "[I]n a frenzy I excavated Black antiquity. What I discovered left me speechless."40 Excessive centrism is what modernity and modernism are about. They stay well within the "Hegelian" difference-in-identity dialectic that produces the superordinate synthetic self that, top-down, assumes "it" resolved differences into a unity, denies the hybridity of synthesis, and displaces contradiction to a below or outside. The genealogy that has to be excavated, therefore, must comprehend the different tendencies of modernism, postmodernism, and countermodernism: the limitations imposed on them by literate and technological notions of civilization, of human being, that would alienate the body in the equation of being and displace all being's negativity onto darker and particularly female bodies. [End Page 35]

The narrative of "another" genealogy starts with recognizing the "mulatto" hybrid nature of Euro-modernism's most radical moment, cubism. It must be accompanied by acknowledging the pervasive attempt to distance that moment as evidence of intercourse with, and the parity of, African/primitive culture, through the concoction of the specious Negro period and through the reiteration of "the patriarchal line: Manet … Cezanne … Picasso" in art-history texts.41 This attempted erasure of the African is especially problematic in those histories and critical analyses that insightfully explicate the cubist collages phase as elaborating a "semiotic" thesis through visual art work and practice, just as poststructuralists did later in writing. Rosalind Krauss's The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths comes to mind.42 Published the same year (1985) as the Primitivism exhibition, it is evidence that the poststructuralist influence was brewing even as Euro-Western formalism moved toward its most magnanimous gesture of acknowledgment. The elaboration of the semiotic insight as an exclusively insider Euro-Western achievement effectively, if not intentionally, dispossessed African and Asian cultures of this insight. The consequence in all cases is that the other participants in birthing cubism, twentieth-century West African cultures, never appear to have comprehended or possessed this knowledge. But neither do Asian—particularly Far Eastern—cultures, which impacted both impressionism and abstract expressionism.

Krauss's critique of "the originality of the avant-garde" and exposure of it as modernist myth are not motivated by any recognition of the hybridity of Euro-modernism; nor is it motivated by remorse over ruined others. The pressing issue is that modernist mythology romanticizes the art industry by suppressing how much it actually relies on "copying," Krauss's term/mechanism for undoing (Euro) modernity's hyped originality. Hence, she states,

The process of copying is deeply embedded in the industry of art. It is what separates that industry from the romantic experience of art as either the continually fresh reflection of nature or the ever original product of imagination. Copying exists in a very different place from imagination or nature. For copying can neither be situated at the mimetic pole—the imitation of nature—or the abstract pole—the pure projection of spirit. In this set of relationships the copy occupies the region structuralism terms neuter; for the copy is a combination of exclusions: it is both nonmimetic and nonabstract.43

Exchange "substitute" for "copy" and Derrida as a source of the idea becomes visible.44 Structuralism's attribution of "neuter" status to copying is problematic. It seeks to deny ontology but silently sneaks into its pure process—which is copying—its dialectical other the noncopy and noncopying. Ironically, for a process that claims to demystify imagination, one must [End Page 36] imagine that copy references no original(s), but more of that later. The important point to note at present is how two quite contradictory uses of a method, copying, can have similar consequences for marginalized cultural subjects.

To make her point about copying, Krauss references E. H. Gombrich's Art and Illusion, a text that is an earlier moment in the linguistic turn of Euro-Western art theory.45 Kraus observes that, in Gombrich's text,

we are taught not to relegate copying to an accidental or marginal part of the making of art. Gombrich offers various formulae, like "making and matching" or "schema and correction," to spell for us the highly conventionalized patterns of rendering that are transmitted from master to apprentice (the patterns for "making" clouds, foliage, draperies) without much of natural appearance allowed to intervene.46

In Gombrich's hands, the point of "schema and correction" was not simply to expose art making's reliance on language-like and mechanical industrial-like conventions for representation. It was very much to reiterate the claim that classical Greek cultural genius allowed them to break out of the imprisoning tendencies, operating at subtle cognitive/psychological levels, which schematic conventions of representation, "language," have. His motives are made clear in the quote below:

For this industry of making reproductions for sale implies a function for the image of which the pre-Greek world knew nothing. The image has been pried loose from the practical context for which it was conceived and is admired and enjoyed for its beauty and fame, that is, quite simply within the context of art. For this is the final consequence of that great "chain reaction." The creation of an imaginative realm led to an acknowledgement of what we call "art" and the celebration of those rare spirits who could explore and extend that realm. It may sound paradoxical to say that the Greeks invented art, but from this point of view, it is a mere sober statement of fact.47

Failure to externalize copying inhibits lesser cultures, Egyptians and Orientals specifically, from overcoming the imprisoning tendencies of schema, hence their stagnation. Through the invention of "schema and correction," classical Greeks were able to create "what we call 'art.'"48 This is how Gombrich sought to recover for the European diaspora the cultural authority and superiority that the Greek miracle ostensibly initiated, which the Renaissance expanded, from displacement by a "primitive" and, significantly, African/Egyptian and Oriental aesthetics. For Gombrich, the latter are a substantial and problematic presence in modernist art and aesthetics.

Krauss's critique of modernism is quite contrary to Gombrich's, whose copy emphasizes imaginative realms and rare spirits; hers denies them. In Krauss's hands, the copy becomes an instrument of demystification of the very "imaginative realm" accessible to only "rare spirits" for which [End Page 37] Gombrich values copying. Krauss evidently values copying for quite contrary reasons, evident in her following statement:

Thus the aesthetic field, as it was structured by the thinking of the twenties and thirties, was the collective semantic marker not for Art but for Man. The field was both thoroughly humanized and psychologized; its obsessive subjects either biological or psychic creation. Although the field agonized by the warring rights of abstraction and representation might seem to be defining the domain of the aesthetic, those terms functioned in fact to define the combined terrain of psyche and soma, the structured unity of Man. Furthermore, this was man in his essential or natural state, man as a function of nature rather than a product of culture. This is why the structural diagram places copy on a different level from the couple mimetic/abstract. The neutral term has nothing to do with the definition of natural man, it characterizes an exclusion of nature, a release into artifice. The copy does not occupy the "noble" realm of struggle. But it does reveal that the terms of that struggle are not aesthetically definitive but are instead psychological in kind. This is the sense in which copy is a demystifying term. It unmasks the definitive conditions of art in the post war period, to show that it functions constantly to produce a mystique of culture as nature.49

The "release into artifice" is strikingly similar to Euro-formalism's escape from cultural context, though, in copy's case, it is into the abstraction of process. The silence about Gombrich's celebration of Greco-Renaissance "avant-gardism" as a "sober statement of fact" betrays the kinship of ethnocentrism or at least allows a disappointing complicity to resonate further. It could not be more deafening, except for the fact that, in the primitive space of being-non-being, it is an expression—perhaps sad, perhaps dukkha—of the universal similarity of all self-conceit, a recognition of others inscribed in "blues." Yet, from that "primitive" perspective, the silence is not deafening at all; rather, it is reassuring about a timeless and everyday recognition of the real relational size and status of conceit.50

The kinship between Krauss and Gombrich is peculiar. Whereas he looks upon African (Egyptian) and "Oriental" aesthetics and sees entrapment in conventions, she does not present any relation of African or Oriental aesthetics to Euro-modernism, except perhaps as artifacts from an outside. The subtleties and insightfulness in the demystification of modernism are entirely poststructuralist, postmodern, and Euro-Western.

In exposing that the conflict between abstraction and representation functions to "define the combined terrain of psyche and soma, the structural unity of Man," the exclusive poststructuralism of Krauss's critique actually elides "Man" with European "man." Copy/substitute's relevance to transcultural processes and intercourse is effectively mystified. What is reproduced is not only the nature/culture polarization but the displacement of the postmodern devalued—and again perhaps misconceived—term nature and, [End Page 38] along with it, all "mythologies" of origins onto non-Western cultures, all of whom become pre-postmodern mystified metaphysically bamboozled cultures, seduced too by the (or a) modernist myth. The power-knowledge that comes with the insight about copying was, in the postmodernist scheme, never theirs.

"Demystifying" Modern Minotaurs

The significance of the maimed soldier's comment, "Get use to your color the way I get use to my stump," referenced by Fanon, has more implications than just acceptance of subordinate status. But one has to recognize amputation and amputees for what they are: products of war, conflict, violence; products of deeply misconstrued difference. Amputation does not necessarily expose hybridity; it shows that bodies are maimed in war. But amputation may show something about the copy concept's relation to the creation of monsters, and, perhaps by that process, we may come to an understanding of how pedagogies may generate better and more globally comprehensive integrity of being-non-being: of couples/duals, of difference, and of desire.

As the pivotal postmodern process, at least according to Krauss—and there is not much reason to doubt she is right—the copy radically excludes, displaces, nature. In its place, mystified culture/nature, copy magnified, determines or is everything. Krauss elevates the latter, giving it exceptional demystificatory value. It exaggerates the value of copy to original in their relational/dialectical interdependence. In so doing, it does heighten awareness of problems intuited/sensed regarding the idea of origins or the self-causing originality of any entity. But how can there be copies without the assumption of originals? In this regard, the concept copy stops short of thorough deconstruction. It mystifies itself. Its mystification is compounded by lack of any reference to non-Euro-Western cultures. In other words, Krauss's ethnocentrism, or her failure or refusal to consider or recognize similar philosophical reflections in other cultures, compromises the insight copy holds.

For the moment, Nagarjuna's—the first-or second-century CE Buddhist demythologizer—critique of entities (dharmas) and entifying claims offers the most illuminating undoing of the mystification involved in copy. Three of his slokas/verses are quoted below:

At nowhere and at no time can entities ever exist by originating out of themselves, from others, from both (self-other), or from lack of causes.51

. . . .

There is no darkness in light or its abode. What does light illumine when, indeed, it destroys darkness?52

. . . . [End Page 39]

Of an entity which does not exist prior to, concomitantly, or posterior to the function of seeing, etc. the notions of existence and non-existence are unnecessary.53

If one substitutes "demystifying" or "copying" for "seeing" in the third of Nagarjuna's stanzas above and for "light" in the second, and "copy" for "entity" in first and third stanzas, it soon becomes apparent that copying and copy also mystify. How can a claim of demystifying, elevating copy and copying, be made if there is nothing (no object) to demystify or copy and, consequently, no mystery? Copy itself becomes mystified. Following through with the substitutions, Nagarjuna concludes and advises that it is unnecessary and counterproductive for discourse and practitioners to be preoccupied with notions of nature/copy/existence or their opposite dialectical partner, nonexistence: in other words, their separation is a distraction from the effective process of emancipation.

So what is the value of Nagarjuna's argument: after all, we—I, Krauss, Nagarjuna—are here as "educators," enlighteners? There would be no need for educators/enlighteners if there is no ignorance and unenlightened conditions. Nagarjuna points to profound, deeply realized humility as the best mode of being in the world, such as it is, and of being an educator. Claims to exceptional being, whether causing, being caused or influenced, are processes enabling the conceit of difference, particularly the assumption of real difference separating the enlightened and the unenlightened, the civilized citizen from the primitive savage: this is the deep premise of primitivism.

Both Krauss's argument and mine are connected to Nagarjuna's, but assumptions of origination remain invisible or tacit when the arguments are disconnected from each other. With similarities and relational connections made invisible or suppressed, the conceit of difference has scope to assert itself: to presume, implicitly or explicitly, that it creates itself, that as an entity it is an origin, an ultimate cause. This is how monsters emerge in copy-culture, even where and when it is employed to demystify and dispel illusions of monsters. In other words, disconnected from a context in which fundamental similarities of being-non-being with others is made visible, any entity or culture, even one well aware of the constructed nature of identity, of the fictive copy-like character of difference, may, nevertheless, think it generated those insights. It should be no surprise, then, that, at the very moment when copy ascends to pre-eminence, the monster, conceit of difference, appears in copy and in print.

Picasso's Minotaur Series

One could not want a better example of art work that problematizes Krauss's copy culture, and the way the conceit of difference sweeps embodied consciousness up into presumptions of self-origins, than Picasso's postcubist [End Page 40] Minotaur series. Done in intaglio, a printmaking (copying) technique, one can ask what is reproduced in this series by the most famous creator of cubism. From culture-as-copy's perspective, this question should not be asked. In keeping with the argument Krauss advanced, there is no creator or creation of cubism; both are modernist myths. Yet they are there, as myths. The Minotaur series, with its "Mediterranean" scenes and different dramas in which the Minotaur acts, are there. We see them; we study them. If the series, exemplary of copy, supposedly radically excludes nature, evidently "nature," with primitive presumptuousness or indifference, has invaded copy. And, to paraphrase Nagarjuna's statement, notions/debate of nature/copy/existence and nonexistence are unnecessary/unhelpful.

Is the series simply a return by Picasso to his "pure" Greco-Western classical roots after his affair with Africa in cubism? Interpretations of them that assume so are not based on imagination but on visual perceptual evidence. Almost everything appears, looks, "Greek" and "Western." Even the monstrous Minotaur "belongs" to Greek mythology: or does it? According to the myth of Andromeda, she was an Ethiopian princess, daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, also Ethiopian. Most, if not all, European representations of Andromeda portray her as a white woman. Her parents are also represented as white. Few imagine her or them as black or brown African Ethiopian persons. But, for the term "Ethiopian" to have any discursive or thought value, it must be indistinguishable from what it means; it cannot be reduced to a series of substitutions, copies of copies. What the copy concept recognizes is that imagination, thinking, is very malleable, impressionable, and can misinterpret percepts because they are constituted of, and exist in, a context of iconic similarity. But to effectively assert, as the poststructuralist copy concept is inclined to do, that cultural masquerades are absolutely deception, is to remove any basis for recognizing even deception as deception.54 Interpretation is manifestly necessary since neither copies nor noncopies are reducible to lies, mere or absolute deception. Therefore, one can legitimately ask: what is reproduced in Picasso's Minotaur series? Does the Minotaur simply belong to Greek myths?

Martin Bernal argues persuasively that Greek minotaur myths are evidence of the cultural colonizing presence of Egypt and Phoenicia in preclassical Greece.55 Minos is related to the predynastic Egyptian phallic fertility deity Min, connected to Pharaoh Min or Menes, and to several Egyptian bull cults, Mnervis and Apis, for example. The myths about the Cretan king Minos are Grecized versions of such Egyptian cult-myths.56 Simply put, an archaic hybridity resulting from African European intercourse precedes and informs classical Greek culture. Gombrich's pictorial emphasis, with semiotic linguisticism tucked within it, allowed him to acknowledge a relationship between African-Egypt and Greek culture. However, the confusion of naturalism with iconic similarity kept him from entertaining any thought [End Page 41] that ancient African-Egyptians possessed anything but a magical notion of images. Gombrich's twentieth-century Euro-ego could not be in greater ascendant than in the quote below:

Perhaps it was not only as the maker of "substitute heads" and other dwellings for the "ka" that the Egyptian sculptor could lay claim to the appellation of "one who keeps alive." His images weave a spell to enforce eternity. Not our idea of eternity, to be sure, which stretches backward and forward in an infinite extension, but rather the ancient conception of recurrent time that a later tradition embodied in the famous "hieroglyph" of the serpent biting its own tail. Clearly, an "impressionist" art could never have served this outlook. Only the complete embodiment of the typical most lasting and changeless form could assure the magic validity of these pictographs for the "watcher" who could here see both his past and his eternal future removed from the flux of time.57

However, if the pictorial turn combined with naturalism are stumbling blocks to Gombrich appreciating African-Egyptian culture's knowledge, the "un-naturalism" of Krauss's culture concept with poststructuralism's semiotic insights tucked inside copying is hers and postmodernism's. There too African being/culture in the masks that affected cubism and expressionism was obviously too connected with "magic" to be included in "the structured unity of Man." Were Asian/Oriental cultures excluded from the structured unity for similar reasons? Yet if the "combined terrain of psyche and soma," which constitutes that unity, is also the field on which "the warring rights of abstraction and representation" were debated in the name of aesthetics, wouldn't their exclusion produce a limited notion of "man?" More importantly, wouldn't it produce a limited notion of being-non-being, of existence and of aesthetics?

Archaic Thinking?

Gombrich's pictorial emphasis combined with the high value he gave to naturalism, however, allowed him to recognize the high achievement of Far Eastern—particularly Chinese—art. But his pictorial emphasis prevented him from recognizing India's complex interrogation and elaboration of the "linguistic" insight. According to Göran Sörböm, Gombrich later changed his mind about narrative as the stimulus for Greek illusionism. Gombrich felt he might have underestimated the impact of the lifelike quality of figure sculpture by concentrating exclusively on narrative and pictorial techniques.58 Pursuing Gombrich's alternative, Sörböm uncovered what can be called the "additive" approach to identity/entity shared by the Egyptian and preclassical/archaic Greeks. For Sörböm, the "additive" approach is [End Page 42] inferior to the classical Greek "organic" approach in which they redefine psyche/soul and its relations to soma/body:

It is not until the fifth century that we find the words "psyché" (soul) and "sóma" (body) coupled together. Actually in Homeric Greek "sóma" always meant "corpse," i.e. dead body. The word "psyche," which for the archaic Greeks connoted the free soul, came in the classical period to connote the soul as a unitary whole. A number of organs and functions of the additive sum understood as a human being in the archaic period, were put together in the classical period into one thing called "psyche". … In this way eschatological, physical, and psychological functions were moulded into a unit which in turn was coupled to the human body. But it was not only so, that the word "psyché" was used to denote a given sum of functions. These functions were seen as having a certain necessary relation to one another and to the body.59

It is precisely the new concept of "soul" and its new relation to body, Sörböm argues, that is pivotal to the "miraculous" Greek turn to illusionism. The latter "matches" the new "organic" concept of soul, reality and life, and is presented by Sörböm as superior to Egyptian and archaic Greek additive-mechanical concepts.60 In this, Sörböm follows the lead of Emma Brunner-Traut.61 He summarizes her description of African Egyptian and Classical Greek difference as follows:

A painting of a man, for instance, represents a sum of parts put together in an easy way to perceive and comprehend, most often in a rule governed manner. This way of making images is not only a technical procedure, Brunner-Traut maintains, it is a way of understanding the world. In a number of chapters she demonstrates how this fundamental principle works also outside of picture-making. Generally speaking, the basic difference is the one between representing something as an additive sum of its components, and seeing it as functional unit, as a whole with a center to which all parts contribute. To see things in the latter way is a typically Greek invention. "The discovery of the organic unity was left to the Greeks."62

The "rule governed manner" implies a recognition that grammar, rules governing word sequence, and spelling, rules governing letter sequence, differentiate words and affect meaning through relationships of words. Similarly, but with much greater flexibility, the grammar or "rules" related to image/entity configuration and combination incorporate meanings and require interpretation. However, no matter in which dimension images are conceived, as images, they already assume, indeed embody, "life." The classical Greek pursuit of "lifelikeness" does "correct" archaic schemas and the ostensibly flawed African-Egyptian ones, not to match nature but to embody in art practice the split between psyche and soma, which then assimilated [End Page 43] "life" to the former and "death" to the latter by regarding it as mere matter. In the cognitive realm, intelligence was lifted out of perception and severed from emotions, casting their relations into a scheme that polarized subject and object. Far from being an inferior understanding, the "primitive" and archaic modes, which are additive bricolage/collage modes, have a far better grasp of existence and aesthetics. Indeed, it was not until the poststructuralist linguistic turn that Euro-Western philosophy and art theory began to recognize the deep proliferating dualism of the "Greek miracle."

Modernism's polarized relations with "primitives" overshadow art discourse. It maintains a global hierarchy in which Euro-modernity retains a position at the top of a heap of competing cultural egos. Neocolonialism insinuates itself into postmodern relations and discourse because the polarization effectively remains in practice. Poststructuralist theory generally, and Gombrich's thesis particularly, was able to keep the philosophical perspectives of Oriental/Asian civilizations out, or on the margins, of aesthetic discourse on modernism and postmodernism. Gombrich excluded Indian culture from having any serious insight to offer his Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. He attributed India's failure to develop a form of naturalism, which is pivotal to his thesis, to its "lack" of a tradition of image making comparable to that of Egypt. He had little choice, however, but to acknowledge the "naturalism" of Far Eastern landscape traditions, because they generally exhibit sufficient features that characterize naturalism.

As a key figure in poststructuralism and postmodernism, Derrida's critique of Ferdinand Saussure's linguistic hierarchy, which puts phonetic scripts at the top, necessarily includes Indian culture and civilization in that general target.63 But, despite the role that Mayan, hieroglyphic and ideographic scripts play in his exposure of the contradictions in Saussure's expositions on language, Derrida, it seems, does not venture into investigating Asian philosophies, and neither does postmodernist theory—even though Asian debates, particularly those between Hindu and Buddhist philosophers, which advanced varieties of nondualism, would have been helpful to open up the poststructuralist project to the global resonance of their insight. Instead, postmodernism deferred engaging the issue of modern and ancient global hybridity and interdependence. Personal attitudes to race and ethnicity notwithstanding, the effect of the almost-exclusive focus on Euro-Western constituencies of self has been to suppress the significance of relational being and relational origination, at a historical moment when affirmation of them in institutional structures was, and remains, most needed. No wonder the conceit of human difference continues to turn some other emergent being into a minotaur or other nonhuman monstrous creature. The concept of culture as copy could not escape the conceit of self-generation, and there its monstrous image appeared. [End Page 44]

Culture as Discourse

Following the exposure of Euro-modern primitivism's subtle and not-so-subtle service to institutionalizing racial and ethnic hierarchies, several papers appeared in the 1990s indicative of institutions wrestling with the problem of ethnocentrism and racism, particularly the deep Eurocentrism that dominates higher art education. Martin Powers's effort in this regard is particularly instructive. He tries to get around what Nagarjuna—Buddhist philosopher that he is—would call the grasping tendency of self: in other words, self-identity's inclination to "own" constituents of being and their constellational relations (to essentialize them to racial/ethnic/national selves). Powers pictures interdependence and coemergence as the "Counter-change Condition." "'Western' culture resembles less a figure on a ground than a 'counterchange' design," Powers explains. "In such a design each figure shapes its 'ground' so as to produce another figure, and vice versa, much like an Escher engraving."64

For Powers, the essentializing tendencies were strongly incorporated in the discipline of art history as it coemerged with Euro-Western imperialism and colonialism. Those tendencies were/are carried forward and distributed through three of its historic terms, style, belief, and influence.65 "Style is an important means by which social groups project their constructed identities and stake their claims in the world," states Powers. "Belief" he explains as the internal ideological forces characterizing style, which can then be used to explain cultural difference. "In the context of nineteenth-century nationalistic concerns," Powers states, "'influence' provided a normative account of cultural interchange and diffusion."66

The notion of "influence" has been generalized as an explanation of cultural interaction between nations and how they change. We should keep in mind that, in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century nationalism, the nation was identified with a racial and/or ethnic constituency. When the nation colonizes, as did European nations since Columbus, or is strongly constituted of immigrants, like the United States, conflict between racial and national identity intensifies. Historicism looks for self-presence in the past: finding it feeds the fiction of self-authorship, frequently obscuring relational origination.

Unfortunately, subtle cultural narcissism prevails in art history/art education, evident in twenty-first-century texts like Is Art History Global? and critiqued in essays like Partha Mitter's "Decentering Modernism." The former is a compilation of papers presented at the "Art Seminar" conference (2005), which apprizes readers of the twenty-first-century situation of global art history. The latter laments the continued Eurocentrism in collections like Art since 1900, whose authors include Foster and Krauss, both insightful critics of modernism.67 Powers recommends treating culture as discourse to [End Page 45] circumvent the essentializing tendencies that attended the birth/emergence of art history as a discipline. "Unlike beliefs, elements of a discourse need not be intrinsic to any particular person or group," Powers states, "but may be freely appropriated by competing groups for different ends."68

If "discourse" has an advantage over the copy concept, it is that, as articulated by Powers, it is vague about the relation to nature and acknowledges a fundamental interdependent duality in existence. "Discourse" has the limitation of most Euro-Western linguistic models: they loosen the knot-vortex of self-identity without undoing it. The tenacity of superior/inferior projections accompanying the notion of influence remains. As Powers is well aware, contemporary/modern "non-Western" art inspired by "Euro-Western" artists is regarded as derivative: "Western" art inspired by "non-Western" art shows receptivity, a double standard not lost on historians of Asian arts.69 Civilized/primitive superior/inferior assumptions, however, elude even Powers's insightful analysis, nestled as it is in a secure comparison of occidental and Oriental "civilizations":

The nineteenth and twentieth-century rejection of mimetic standards in deference to expressive ideals is regarded as one of those great achievements unique to Western art. How do we deal with the fact—emotionally and historically—that one of the chief ideologues of this movement threw his weight behind key terms and issues embedded in Chinese criticism? The situation is distinct from, say, Picasso's use of non-European [meaning African] art, for [Roger] Fry was not reading modern sentiments into works of another culture. Quite the contrary he was entertaining constructs found in Chinese sources from early times.70

The sentence before the last exposes the limitations of Powers's discourse model of culture. Literary objects, it implies, unlike art/material objects, are more like the thought behind or informing art objects. Hence, as an art critic/historian, Roger Fry cannot be accused of "reading modern sentiments into the works of another culture" in the way that Picasso can be faulted for reading "modern sentiments" into African art. A heap of obfuscations is involved in this partially valid statement. The valid part of Powers's statement rests on the fact that early twentieth-century Euro-Western modernist primitivism, in which Picasso participated, did misconceive African "expressionism" as a historically ungrounded bundle of unrepressed fears, ego-self, and unreflexive response to existential reality, which the word primitive, and cultures so designated, epitomized. This conception of "expressionism" as a kind of emotional venting was projected onto black African cultures particularly as part of the color-coded civilized/savage scheme modern imperialism forged. However, the fact of projection, used by Powers to strengthen his case for culture as discourse, subtly dispossesses black Africans and others designated "primitive," nonliterate cultures of any thoughtful basis [End Page 46] for their art/aesthetic practices. He tends to assume an identity of verbal form with thought but denies a similar identity to art and material objects. Put another way, he assumes art/material objects are mere vehicles of the thoughts in them and "causing" them.

Powers's reminder that Euro-modernist formalism appropriated ideas from Chinese and Far Eastern aesthetics needs to be noted by all domains of art education. The prevailing assumption is that formalism is a pure Euro-Western product. Unfortunately for Powers's assumption that, compared to objects, language is identical or at least transparent to thought, his correction of the misunderstanding shows how Euro-Western art critics, Bell and Fry specifically, misconceived Far Eastern or Asian aesthetics to elevate Euro-Western modernism. Indeed, the former was equally subject to appropriation and misrepresentation to serve Euro-modern, not global, interests. The question that haunts Powers's essay is this: why, in spite of access to discursive forms of Chinese aesthetics and philosophy, was modernist Euro-Western formalism unable to access the nondualist insights of Daoist or Chan Buddhist traditions, profoundly affected by Nagarjuna? Why did it exaggerate form as freedom from cultural context, affecting a release into universal being, polarizing it (form) against context as the true content? The resulting polarized perspectives confuse the insights from Asia with Euro-Western and modernist dualisms. By ignoring non-Western cultural contexts, postmodernism limited its critique of formalism and continued to enable its ethnocentrism.

Insofar as "culture as discourse" comprehends the irreducibility of entities to an essence, it is helpful to art education's efforts to reconceive intercultural or transcultural relations. However, laced with the hubris that writing determines/causes civilization, the culture-as-discourse model devalues nonliterate cultures as uncivilized, primitive, denigrating "being" in those context. Only after Picasso, in his mode of thinking and working, stopped being or was not-being Euro-Picasso, who assumed that Black African "expressionism" was the product of emotional venting and instinctive unbridled animist fears, did he gain access to the mode of living being of which the African art objects were exemplars. From then on, his artworks, as similar modes of being, resonated with the significance of the forms of the African "artifacts." From then on, as far as the artworks are concerned, Euro-Picasso is incorporated in Mulatto Picasso. In that moment, representational aesthetics confronts animist's affirmations of "objects" as living beings, as "persons."

Unable to get out of its own "Negro period," mainstream art theory/practice prefers to regard some art and material culture as products of instinct but others as products of reflexive practice. "Instinct," explicitly or implicitly used, or more often unopposed or uncorrected by silence, is the term used to deny years, perhaps centuries, of cumulative reflexive practice to its subject, [End Page 47] in this case, West African cultures. Moving beyond the untenable notions of instinct, and Powers's tacit assumption that objects and materials do not communicate with artists, that no discourse is possible between them, one can legitimately ask, "Is there evidence that a preference for nondualist epistemologies exists or existed in West or sub-Saharan African cultures?"

The answer is yes. Here is how Marcel Griaule and Gertude Dieterlen describe Dogon handling of concepts:

The value and efficacy of the symbol are such in this system, that it is not the thing itself, but "the symbol alone which is essential." Thus, "the thought of the Black world is oriented towards a knowledge which may be confused with adequate understanding, but which is more often a 'sophy.' This thought makes of the universe an orderly whole, where the notion of law is less present than pre-established harmony, incessantly troubled and continually reordered. Each part of this entirety epitomizes the whole. There is neither subject nor object, only things linked in one domain."71

Given the cluster of ideas expressed in the quote above, which includes a dynamic universe with dynamic entities ("pre-established harmony, incessantly troubled and continually reordered"), part epitomizing whole, subject-object negation, the way the term "symbol" should be interpreted would be different to how C. S. Peirce used the term to emphasize meaning based solely on convention, as in phonetic systems. In the Dogon context as described above, the symbol would be more like Umberto Eco's description of the Peirceian "icon," which he describes as that which becomes "a parameter of similarity and not vice versa," keeping in mind that icon/similarity is a fundamental cognitive perceptual event that is the basis for subsequent cognitive processes.72 As the Griaule-Dieterlen quote asserts, the symbol/icon is less about (rigid) law and more about (contextualized) dynamic harmony, which is best understood in terms of rhythmic relation. In turn, rhythmic relation comprehends both harmony (plural presence) and melody (variable unpredictable presence), which is to say resonant space-time difference, or similarity. This is a world in which, as Derrida would say, "there is nothing outside of the text [there is no outside-text]."73 It is also a world in which Derrida's différance would be synonymous with Eco's "icon/similarity" and the Dogon's "symbol."

Griaule and Dieterlen can certainly be criticized for generalizing Dogon attitudes to the whole of Black African cultures, of being reductive and essentializing in describing it as "the thought of the Black world"; but African traditions of music and dance, as well as Gombrich's, Sörböm's, and Brunner-Traut's differentiation of ancient Egyptian from classical Greek perspectives, support the anthropologists' picture of dominant pan-African precolonial orientations toward the world. Recognizing dominant character or tendencies in constructed identity does not make a center and essence [End Page 48] inevitable; nor does it exclude other tendencies completely. It makes character and personality emergent, phased, and dynamic.

Varieties of nondualist philosophies are dominant in Asian cultures, unquestionably. It has taken theistic forms in Hinduism and nontheistic forms in Jainism and Buddhism. It is also present but subordinate in Euro-Western cultures.74 Poststructuralist forms of postmodernism have shifted Euro-Western philosophy toward nondualist epistemologies.75 While mindful that a dominance of nondualist epistemologies are no automatic antidote to imperialism (Asian and African histories are not free from imperial oppression), they do offer a better conceptual basis for transcultural aesthetics, which is to say an aesthetics that comprehends the significance of the aesthetic experience to achieving greater freedom and equality among global cultures.

Undoing Linguistic Knots: Turning Race to Humanity

The resonant similarity of divergent strands of nonduality and dualism can be leveraged to shift the way racial and national achievements are interpreted and presented in/as art histories and translated into art education. The narcissistic postures/frameworks that inflate racial or nationalistic self-creation and disavow interdependence must be replaced by empathetic structures that allow cultural and individual differences to be recognized, but must locate the significance of difference in the larger similarity of humanity and in the larger schematic similarity of un-self-ish being. The scheme of resonant iconic similarity that I will elaborate below recognizes identity's heterogeneous sources and disperses or dislocates its "origins." It comprehends the uncaused irreducible self-less gift-like nature of artworks/objects, or personality.

Toward the end of the first section of this essay, I pointed out that Derrida's play of difference-différance not only obscured iconic similarity as the "field" in which their play is made possible, but their verbal similarity can easily mislead one to assume difference makes the différance and not vice versa. That error inflates the conceit of difference and mutes différance's enabling of resonance across cultures. In his reflections on Peircian semiotics in Kant and the Platypus, Umberto Eco goes to great lengths to counter the tendency to think of Peirce's concept of the icon exclusively in visual and empirical terms, because of the long association of the word icon with visual art objects. Eco does so in order to direct attention to the qualities percepts incorporate, which are not only or essentially visual or restricted to a particular sense medium. Once dissociated from the illusionist tendency to think of iconic "likeness" in terms of a visual/perceptual image whose likeness "corresponds point by point with the characteristics of the object or the field of stimulus," as Eco points out, then we can better appreciate that [End Page 49] it is "the icon that becomes a parameter of similarity and not vice versa."76 Derrida aims at a similar relationship in distinguishing différance from difference, employing the concept of the trace. As an explanation, however, the latter is too tied up in a bifurcation of past from present, presence from absence, and implicitly reproduces notions of pure presence and absence, obscuring their hybridity. Iconic similarity comprehends hybridity: it is both sameness and difference (presence and absence) and is neither sameness nor difference by themselves. Derrida understands this; hence, he states, "One is the other in différance, one is the différance of the other."77 However, just as it seems the cubist had to detour through analytical cubism to arrive at collage/bricolage aesthetics, it seems Derrida, poststructuralism, and postmodernism had to go through elaborate undoing of linguistic assumptions via the "trace." Ultimately, however, the knot is a self-making, not simply linguistic, one, and that is why its undoing involves the inclusion and comprehension of others.

To undo the linguistic knot that seems to imprison us in cultural codes requires recovering from the alternative genealogy that includes "Orientals" and "primitives" elaborated above, a scheme that rescues real substantial being and effective action from ascription to fictional selves. Working with "additive" bricolage nondualist principles, the scheme/sketch of undoing starts with two strokes that follow the essential path of the strands that interlock to form the knot. Modern civilized subjects seem to have all the world's history behind them, whereas primitive/savage subjects seem to be suspended in a void, neither affected by history nor affecting it. If the latter, as subjects, seem to be free from time and change, they also seem powerless to affect it.78 The former, as modern civilized subjects, have claimed the massive power of world and universal history to affect change. Yet, identified with change, modern civilized subjects also seem ever-anxious to convince themselves and others that they are real substantial unchanging subjects, not fictional products of juggernaut history. The hundreds of impressive art-history texts, celebrating iconic artists and movements, serve to convince the modern conceited self that it has not been consumed by change and time, but rather produces change, time, and history. These are not human, and perhaps not even suprahuman subjects. They are more imaginary than real. They are "agents" who do not want to disappear in acts yet want all acts to reflect "their" freedom and omnipotence. When art education serves this purpose, it works like a mirror showing historically imagined subjects, consequently substituting fictional for substantial authority. If there is mysticism at work, it is surely this.

Euro-modernists and postmodernists weave their art stories using these two figures, civilized and primitive, as warp and woof. Postcolonial art histories do so too. But this is the consequence of aesthetic and disciplinary [End Page 50] schemes and curricula that assume they must pivot around a possessive "subject." Hence, global universal being does not so much emerge in figures of European, Indian, African, Chinese, or Native American Art; rather, the latter presume they create their (the possessive is telling) art histories, presume they have caught up with an object outside "similarity," instead of being similar to, and relationally originated with, others. Pedagogical schemes explicitly or implicitly aimed at "matching" historically preconceived national/racial/ethnic subjects will always miss or marginalize emergent global ones, resonant with nonbeing. The discourse of conceited self will overshadow the latter. This is how art education discovers, after the fact, that whatever life it caught within mimetic historical narratives or pedagogy served a smaller being than it should have. What it kept alive is the possessive chauvinism of identity, which should not surprise. Working within formulas that assume that selflessness is impossible, that figures of being cannot be configured to resonate with global interests, the two figures of seeming all-powerfulness and seeming utter powerlessness unselfishly allow themselves to be aligned regularly, patiently, with racial, ethnic, gender, and class/caste constituencies. No wonder the linguistic knot is not undone. Loosened by bricolage concepts, established aesthetics and pedagogy nevertheless turn back to familiar narrow historical "subjects," avoiding or minimizing connection to others, missing emergent ones and process.

Knots are undone by reversing their movement. How is reversal to be effected in this case? The "primitive" figure shows the way. A really effective use of language, or cultural codes, disclaims the authority of historical subjects to recognize and distribute emergent being-nonbeng. And really free nonbeing denies being the "cause" of anything so grand (and fictional) as a "historical subject." The exaggerated claims of the latter work with the conceit of difference to suppress connections that "iconic similarity" comprehends, particularly emergent dynamics, emergent relational being and identity, as constituted of others even in their apparent difference. The latter also recognizes that resonant similarity can appear to be threatening or congenial figures and circumstances, among which are the turning of race, ethnicity, gender, and class figures against emergent humanity. In action or practice, free emergent being connects to others through resonant similarity to affect change and expansion and to sustain life. Aesthetics and art education will serve themselves and others better when curriculum practice and theory are less confused with "historical subjects" whose difference is invoked to perpetuate racial, ethnic, gender, class/caste, and nationalist myths, and the more pedagogy and curricula are based on nondualist bricolage principles, configured to comprehend communal and individual differences as emergent figures of global being. [End Page 51]

David A. Gall

David Gall is associate professor/area coordinator of art education, University of North Carolina, Charlotte. His research focus is aesthetics, art education theory-practice, and diversity issues. He recently published "Formal Problems, Realist Solutions" in the Journal of Aesthetic Education (2016) and is finalizing a manuscript—"Countering Modernity: Toward a Twenty-first-Century Art Education." He received his education in Barbados (the University of the West Indies), India (MFA at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda; BFA at Visva-Bharati University, Shantiniketan), and the United States (PhD at the Pennsylvania State University). He coordinated Barbados Community College's BFA Fine Art Program. Painting and sculpture are his main studio interests.


1. Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 15.

2. Robert young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (London: Routledge, 1994), 19.

3. Suman Gupta, "Territorial Anxieties," in Is Art History Global? Art Seminar 3, ed. J. Elkins (New York: Routledge, 2007), 236–47, at 244.

4. "Relational origination" is the term Kenneth Inada prefers to "dependent origination," although the latter is more widely used. They are translations of the term pratityasamutpada. See Kenneth Inada, Nagarjuna: A Translation of His Mulamadhyamakakarika (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1970).

5. Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, trans. A. Bass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 5.

6. Ibid.

7. See Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. G. Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), lxxxii.

8. Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, 5.

9. Ibid., 4.

10. Mentioned by Hal Foster in "The 'Primitive' Unconscious of Modern Art," October 34 (1985): 45–70.

11. Clement Greenberg, Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981).

12. Alfred H. Barr Jr., Picasso, Fifty Years of His Art (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), 61.

13. James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 213.

14. Ibid.

15. The "ever accommodating" comment comes from Gupta, "Territorial Anxieties," 244.

16. Attention is being drawn to both the asymmetrical way in which consciousness/unconsciousness are attributed to European and non-European cultures and to the "additive" dialectic preferred in Africa and Asia, and especially elaborated in Bhedabheda Vedanta. See note 78.

17. Hans Belting, Art History After Modernism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995/2003), 66.

18. Foster, "The 'Primitive' Unconscious of Modern Art," 56.

19. Ibid., 58.

20. Ibid., 60.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid., 62.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid., 62–63.

25. Ibid., 63.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid., 64.

28. Ibid., 65.

29. Ibid.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., 70.

32. Ibid., 60–61.

33. Ibid., 61.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. W. E. B. DuBois The Souls of Black Folk, ed. D. W. Blight and R. Gooding-Williams (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's 1903/1997). [End Page 52]

38. Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. R. Philcox (New York: Grove Press), 119.

39. Ibid., 119.

40. Ibid., 109.

41. Foster, "The 'Primitive' Unconscious of Modern Art," 58.

42. See Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985).

43. Ibid., 125–26.

44. See Derrida, Of Grammatology; also Derrida, Margins of Philosophy.

45. E. H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1961).

46. Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde, 125.

47. Gombrich, Art and illusion, 141.

48. Ibid.

49. Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde, 126–27.

50. Dukkha, a Sanskrit or Pali term central to Buddhist philosophy, is translated as "suffering." It can also connote sadness, in other words "the blues." See Inada's Nagarjuna or David Loy, Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (New York: Humanity Books, 1988).

51. Inada, Nagarjuna, 39, Chapter 1, verse 1.

52. Ibid., 65, Chapter 7, verse 9.

53. Ibid., 79, Chapter 9, verse 12.

54. Thoughtful critiques of this limitation of poststructuralist/postmodernist thinking can be found in Roy Bhaskar, Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), and Satya Mohanty, "Can our Values Be objective? on Ethics, Aesthetics and Progressive Politics," in Aesthetics in a Multicultural Age, ed. Emory Elliot, Louis Freitas Caton, and Jeffrey Rhyne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 31–59.

55. Martin Bernal, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. Volume 1: The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785–1985 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987).

56. Ibid., 18, and 63–64.

57. Gombrich, Art and Illusion, 125.

58. Göran Sörböm, "Gombrich on the Greek Art Revolution," The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics 7, no. 12 (1994): 63–77.

59. Ibid., 73–74.

60. Ibid., 69.

61. Emma Brunner-Traut, Early Forms of Knowledge: The Example of Ancient Egyptians. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1990).

62. Sörböm, "Gombrich on the Greek Art Revolution," 69–70.

63. Derrida, Of Grammatology.

64. Martin Powers, "Art and History: Exploring the Counterchange Condition," Art Bulletin 77, no. 3 (1995): 382.

65. Ibid., 384.

66. Ibid.

67. See James Elkins, ed., Is Art History Global? (New York: Routledge, 2007); and Partha Mitter, "Decentering Modernism: Art History and Avant-Garde Art from the Periphery," The Art Bulletin 90, no. 1 (2008): 531–48. Also Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yves-Alain Bois, et al., eds., Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism (London: Thames and Hudson, 2004).

68. Powers, "Art and History," 385.

69. Ibid.

70. Ibid., 386.

71. M. Griaule and G. Dieterlen, The Pale Fox, trans. by S. C. Infantino (Chino Valley, AZ: Continuum Foundation, 1965/1986), 59–60. [End Page 53]

72. Umberto Eco, Kant and the Platypus: Essays on Language and Cognition, trans. Alastair McEwen (London: Vintage, 1997/2000), 105–6.

73. Derrida, Of Grammatology, 158. See also Arthur Bradley, Derrida's of Grammatology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), 3.

74. David Loy, Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (New York: Humanity Books, 1988). Euro-Western examples of nondualism include Meister Eckhart and William Blake. But the terms mystical and mysticism are almost pejoratives by association with the terms mystify and demystify.

75. See Derrida, Of Grammatology; Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus Now.

76. Eco, Kant and the Platypus, 105.

77. Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, 18.

78. This "Euro-modern" characterization of the "primitive," intended to devalue it in contrast to the "civilized," has an interesting similarity to Indian Samkhya philosophy's scheme of Purusha (soul/spirit) and Prakriti (nature). Samkhya is characterized as dualistic and atheistic. Andrew Nicholson attributes the atheistic characterization to an Advaita-centric Vedanta bias in the Orientalism of the British period, which tended to suppress Bhedabheda (difference/nondifference) Vedanta. When Samkhya is regarded as theistic, however, rather than being essentially dualistic, its uninvolved Purusha and ever changing Prakriti are related differences in a nondual "one." Paramahansa Yogananda and the lineage of Kriya Yoga certainly see Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta as interrelated. See Andrew Nicholson, Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Paramahansa Yogananda, God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1995); Swami Sri Yukteshwar, The Holy Science (Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1972). Their correspondence to the Dogon scheme is also notable: Amma (the hidden one) creates the universe using 266 signs that produce the plethora of things. See Griaule and Dieterlen, The Pale Fox. [End Page 54]

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