by carl wilson

Dave Hickey and Sheila Heti:
Down Around the Lizard Brain

hickey.bmp sheilahead.jpg

"Art and writing come from somewhere down around the lizard brain. It's a much more peculiar activity than we like to think it is. ... I think you want to learn about art because you had an experience of some sort - a totally nonredemptive but vaguely exciting experience, like brushing up against a girl with big boobs in the subway. It's about that level of intensity. So you want to find out more about it since its sources are so mysterious, and these sources reside in you as well as in the object. But I have no evangelical feelings about art at all. I despise art education. Art doesn't lend itself to education. There is no knowledge there. It's a set of propositions about how things should look." - Dave Hickey

This interview in the new Believer with Dave Hickey, art critic and author of Air Guitar and MacArthur "genius," is one of my favourite things I've read this year. Hickey is a hero, and the interview was conducted in Toronto by Zoilus's dear friend Sheila Heti, whose talent as an interviewer is almost the equal of her gifts as a writer. I've had a transcript of this interview for several months now and find myself compelled to re-read it once a week, just to re-boot my own head. Fresh, clear, compelling thoughts about art and society (not all of which I agree with but all of which I enjoy thinking into and through), with sidelines about life and love, wrapped up in a salty, hilarious conversation.

General | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, November 01 at 1:37 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)



Well, I guess I think that wit and charm (and his vanity is part of his charm) are valuable in themselves, but beyond that... I just think what he has to say about art is bracing and corrective to a lot of the cant and to a lot of the anxious justifying that we do. There's a point where he talks about criticism now being expected to be positive - which is related to what Jess was saying in the post we all liked. Hickey doesn't say much that's interesting about specific artists in the interview, but he's written those things elsewhere. This is more at the meta-, art-and-life level. I really like the point about "the quality of the work" versus "the quality of the job." The ideas about the randomness of art, the observations about character and work habits and so forth. They just happen to grab me, to bathe some of my neuroses in relaxant, etc. I can see that they might not happen to grab you.

Posted by zoilus on November 6, 2007 4:45 PM



Z., can you tell me what's so great about this interview? I am not being polemical, I genuinely want to understand. Like his talk a few years back at the Power Plant or wherever it was, the interview is full of his wit, charm, vanity and little else. Warhol is bland? Ruscha is funny? Thanks Dave, great insights.

Posted by michelangelo on November 6, 2007 8:39 AM



Hickey has a lust for life! I tried to be like him today, but forgot about it by lunch.

Posted by nuvik on November 4, 2007 9:18 PM



Air Guitar is THE BEST. I mean, "The Heresy of Zone Defense" alone...

Posted by dave m. on November 2, 2007 7:56 PM



I bought his book promptly. Best interview I can remember reading recently. Thanks for the headsup.

Posted by tim j on November 2, 2007 3:34 PM



By the way, Hickey was a professional songwriter in Nashville (I think) for a while. Do you know any of his songs?

Posted by john on November 2, 2007 12:54 PM



I haven't finished "Air Guitar" (I'm in the middle of a few really good books), but Hickey's "The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty" is terrific.

Posted by john on November 2, 2007 9:41 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson