Yesterday I received the news that Minus Plato was not selected to go forward to the panel stage of the Art Writers Grant Program under the blog category. While I am disappointed, I also want use the moment of hearing this news amid this year of daily posting (“Minus Plato Today”) to embrace a role that has slowly been developing over this time. The more I write for Minus Plato, the more I think about the gesture, implied in the very title of the blog, of displacement of authority. I am interested in how we can today move away from the dead white male pedagogue and ‘genius’ (aka Plato) that has grounded the discipline of Classics and, to a lesser degree, the world of contemporary art (in the form of the artist as focal point), towards a more collective basis for creativity and the forms of alternative and progressive authority that it generates.
One ancient example of this is the development of the dialogue genre within philosophical traditions. Following from the model of Socratic dialogue which gives us the fantasy of a collective debate instigated by a character who ‘knows nothing’, but which is orchestrated by Plato as dramaturge, there were other forms of dialogue that were explicit about including spokespeople for specific areas of knowledge and bringing them into a more expansive debate (and not as mere interlocutors). These dialogues were dubbed Logistorici by the Roman polymath Varro. The title derives from the two Greek works: logos (‘talk) and some area of knowledge or inquiry (historia). Examples include Sisenna: On History or Tubero: On Human Origins or even mythical figures e.g. Orestes: On Madness. While only fragments survive, we can trace some of Varro’s method in two of Cicero’s dialogues Laelius: On Friendship and Cato: On Old Age.
So to mark the news that Minus Plato will not be awarded an Art Writers Grant this year, I want to present you with links to the blogs of the 34 winners to date. The full list of previous grantees can be found here and you can click on the images below to explore these blogs and to embrace the diversity of writing about contemporary art out there and to which Minus Plato aspires.
(Today’s post is written in honor of my son, Eneko Campos-Fletcher, who turns 8 today and in memory of my friend Bob Weld for his tireless commitment to bettering the lives of others.)