Ruby’s unreasonable anger at Renoko, it turned out, stemmed from an argument she had with him one lunchtime in the Faint Dime diner. It concerned the nature of kitsch. Renoko felt that kitsch was a product of an event he named “the postmodern ironisation”, prior to which it could not exist: before that, the objects you could now describe as kitsch were actually trash objects. “Without the operation of irony on trash,” he maintained, “there would be no kitsch.” To him, the postmodern ironisation was like the Death of History or the coming Singularity. “Everything was changed by it. Nothing could be the same again. It had the irreversibly transformational qualities of a Rapture.”
He believed it had those qualities even now.
Ruby’s committment to body-art and collectible tambourines couldn’t let this go unchallenged. Prior to the age of irony, she thought, kitsch was already established. “It was low art’s idea of high art,” she said–the aesthetic of people with no taste. Its keynote was sentimentality, not simply in conception but in use. Trash, for her, was another thing altogether, and it was with trash she found herself at home. A true low art, trash was the aesthetic of people who had no aesthetic, and in use it could almost be described as utilitarian. “In all its forms,” she insisted to MP Renoko, “and across every media platform, trash is the art of demonstrating, celebrating–and above all getting–sex. It is a Saturday night art.”
Fat Antoyne scratched his head.
“What happened when you told him that ?”
”What happened then was that a fist fight followed, which it soon drew in the entire lunchtime clientele of the Faint Dime diner, becoming a legend in its own time.”
“It doesn’t seem enough,” he said.
“That, Fat Antoyne, is the big difference between us.”
Because of the weird grimness of the work they do, Ruby believed, quarantine dogs live their opinions hard and proud: so it was predictable Antoyne wouldn’t see such things as intensely as she did. Perhaps because of that it was good that their liaison retained its temporary nature.
–Empty Space, 2012