Fwd: [Humanist] 25.606 on failure


       Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2012 09:21:35 -0500
       From: James Rovira
       Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.602 on failure

I was struck by this quotation too.  I think my starting place is the
definition of failure as the disjunction between intent and realization.
From that, I go in a few directions.  I’ll be thinking in terms of art, but
art as techne – anything executed with skill and intent.

– failure to realize my intent sheds light upon the nature of my intent. It helps me understand it in more detail and specificity. I may learn to redefine my intent.
– failure to realize my intent may cause me to question or even abandon my intent. Of course this questioning or abandonment can be negative, as in a kind of despair, but it can be positive as well.  Perhaps the actual product can be better than my intent and completely different from me.
– failure to realize my intent establishes the artwork as something other than me, something that has “a life of its own."  It changes my view of art.
– positive failures to realize my art establishes a dialectic between inspiration and skill.  My "unintentional intents,” whatever their source, come to be as important as my consciously controlled intent.

Thank you again for provoking discussion, Willard.

Jim R

The inevitable gap between the intention and realization of an artwork makes failure impossible to avoid. This very condition of art-making makes failure central to the complexities of artistic practice and its resonance with the surrounding world. Through failure one has the potential to stumble on the unexpected – a strategy also, of course, used to different ends in the practice of scientists or business entrepeneurs. To *strive to fail* is to go against the socially normalized drive towards ever increasing success. In Samuel Beckett’s words, ‘To be an artist is to fail as no other dare fail.’“


       Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2012 16:44:04 -0800
       From: Brian Croxall
       Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.598 on failure

Failure is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last year
or so. I think we need to become as public with our failures as possible.
The sciences have a few journals of negative results, which help other
scientists know which paths are not as profitable for exploration. We
should be looking to do the same when possible.

I’ll offer up my 2011 MLA talk as a call for more dialogue about failure:



Brian Croxall, Ph.D. | Emory University | CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow
Emerging Technologies Librarian | @briancroxall

January 10, 2012