Heavily underscored in my copy of THE BRUTALITY OF FACT are these lines: “It is in the artificial structure that the reality of the SUBJECT will be caught, and the trap will close over the subject matter and leave only the reality. One always starts work with the subject, no matter how tenuous it is, and one constructs an artificial structure (this artificiality might be central to the CONDEMNED in CONDEMNED BUILDING) by which one can trap the reality of the subject matter one has started with.”
I would contend, and I think Doug Darden would agree, in those so missed long conversations, that digital formalists (just as, truthfully, formalists of pre-digital times) have no subject. Such unreflecting digital theories and practices flatten and shrink and chill the human subject. Darden would sense this post-humanist danger, and would readily take up the cause for substance in his dissent. [Above left, Bacon’s center panel for TRIPTYCH 1971; right, Darden’s discontinuous genealogy for SEX SHOP]
When I taught at Tulane University in the mid-eighties I invited Doug down several times to lecture and to review my student work. As I talked with him on the night of one arrival about the program of my studio we would review, which was a slaughterhouse with two sites – one in the city, now outlawed by zoning, and one “legal” site in the swamps outside the city – we sat in my darkened living room listening to Keith Jarrett’s Köln concert. After a long silence Doug observed that Jarrett played like a man in a cage, and that he wanted to know where in New Orleans we could go to feel the cage of the city. The next morning I drove him to the industrial section of the levee, upriver. Not for the industry, I told him, but for the revelation the industries there might suggest of the city’s land-hewed shoving match with the Mississippi River.
We had answered Heidegger’s question concerning technology. Doug was in heaven.