Art versus Intellectualism

Today was opening day of the SPE conference. I just saw one presentation, by Robert Hirsch. It was okay, he’s smart, but I walked out. I got bogged down in the excessive intellectualism of his lecture.


I left, and walked through Capital Hill, a neighborhood in Denver. It’s a gritty part of the city, and it’s where we would go buy pot when we were in high school. Good used record stores too.

Walking, I got to think about art and intellectualism. Art needs to be smart, but not academic. Photography is much more about a visceral reaction to life. I felt a little disillusioned, to be honest. I want pictures that make me feel, and then think, not the other way around. Walking in Capital Hill, this felt real to me, like real experience without without that kind of social-scientific-balloon-bread wrapped around it to justify its meaning.


The second half of Hirsch’s lecture was on digital imaging and art education. He talked about the irrelevance of analogue photography. This is an old wound. It hurts to have the things and ideas I care for so much called superfluous.

Strange, however, is that being in my old stomping grounds — the same guy still works at the desk of Jerry’s Records as did when I went there in high school — and seeing the graffiti on the walls and the prostitutes settled me down, brought me back. Despite all this technology, we still have out grown these necessities. Making marks is the meaning, not the tool. And simply feeling the world is enough.


4 thoughts on “Art versus Intellectualism

  1. I’m thinking about what you’re saying about intellectualism vis-a-vis the academe in general. Here’s my question: if something is academic, does that necessarily mean that it’s over-intellectualized? The best academic writers I know pride themselves on making things clear enough for a broad audience to understand. On a related note, do you think I might be alienating people by labeling myself the way I do here?

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