Rules Discussion March 8-11 2016

On Mar 11, 2016, at 2:34 PM, Christopher Janke wrote:

Christopher Janke

From: MM
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2016 3:36 PM
To: CJ
Cc: KC
Subject: Re: Rule Group


On Mar 11, 2016, at 7:34 AM, Christopher Janke  wrote:

Some other issues that came up regarding Watching.


  1. Would we allow ourselves to watch a performance? Or would that kind of watching be somehow against the ethos of the group?

No, to performance.  It seems that watching something scripted is a different animal. I like the self discipline aspect. (MM)

  1. If The Rule Group and the Watchers are ever made up of different people, does that negate the claim or aim towards democracy? Could the Rule Group, if made up by a different set of people than the watchers, just lord it over the watching group?

Yes. I think if you are a rule-maker-non-watcher you are hoping to join the debate!  You do not get the debate privilege without the cold or boring part of trying to pay attention! Watching is not for pussies! Without watching one could possibly become a self-involved, bossy lord. (MM)
<So: In order to join the rule group, you must be part of the watching club. Do you have to do all the watches? How many watches before you get to join the rule group? How many skipped watches before you get kicked off the rule group? CJ>

Sounds like potential members don’t want to do the hard part? No one ever likes to wash the brushes!  I think watching as a member of the Watching Club is vital. Ideally, You have to watch at least twice to sit back and pontificate about it. However, if membership is contingent on being able to skip sessions whenever they are too hard…i will concede. I just know people will watch once and call it good ..but maybe that’s the nature of the beast and should be assimillated. (MM)

  1. I’ve just realized that I may not be able to participate on the 13th. I have a practicum that I’m doing and I don’t have full control over my hours, and I may have been booked to assist with the practicum during the same hours. I’m totally fine with others watching without me; I’m also up for rescheduling or for allowing it to be skipped and come back to it.

No skipping allowed. Reschedule or come back to it. (MM)

<So: Only I am not allowed to skip? Or are others also not allowed to skip? CJ>

I think i should have stated better. I meant to say that if you have to skip  we all should skip the session. It should be rescheduled for the sake of synchronicity. I don’t want others to watch without you– specifically me. (MM)

  1. Any other ideas for things we want to watch? Should we widen the scope? Narrow it? Blade of grass? Activity on a planet?

I listed some ideas at the bottom of the Mach 6 email. Did you miss it? I Love the blade of grass idea but i also suggested a mode of public transportation: escalator, elevator, bus station, busy bus stop…. (MM)

<Oh yes, I’d forgotten. Hmmm. How about ON a bus?> (CJ)

that would be good. Should there be a duration requirement? Like you have to go to north hampton and back? #43 sigh (MM)

  1. The looking/seeing/watching issue was again discussed. I said that I thought of seeing as more passive than watching, but others (especially visual artists) disagreed. They talk about “seeing” as core to the process of painting and representation and consider “seeing” as MORE active than watching.

It’s absolutely not more active. This is apples and oranges.  Used in different recipes.  I can see where a painter thinks “the art of seeing” (rolling my eyes) is the end all be all but that is then and this is now. The Watching Club is watching. (See below) Watching and seeing are equally active depending on the activity. Watching/seeing/looking  is being too casually thrown at us… We are watching people and are aware of the differences. (MM)

<hmm CJ>



I’d love to hear what you all think on these important matters!


Christopher Janke


From: CJ
Sent: Wednesday, March 9, 2016 8:59 AM
To: MM
Cc: KC
Subject: RE: Rule Group

More questions for the rule group.


  1. Looking versus watching versus seeing. Shona MacDonald, in reviewing the project for my midterm review, asked if we were watching or looking because in a way you could say we are “looking” for an aesthetic experience, or at least that is one of the possible, explicit reasons given for the exercise. I said maybe we are watching and trying to allow for an aesthetic experience, but to be honest when I’m watching, I am trying to create within myself a guided openness that allows me to find/ see/ look for/ watch beauty within the scene… Thoughts?

This sounds like a reviewing visual artist trying to relate. Ms. Mac Donald (who was my BEST Bud for 5 months and who I miss terribly) is delving into our watching concept with a gross generalization.  The Professor must try, in 15 minutes, to engage with the student. If Shona, however, were to become a member of a talking group she would be invaluable as I always found her comments right on the money.  Personally, I  subscribe to Clive Bell’s “Aesthetic Hypothesis” which, for me has been proven on a number of occasions. I have deliberately, for example, seen VG’s Starry Night twice and there was at least one onlooker each time sobbing: “…and I don’t even like Art!” So,for me , it’s now a scientifically proven theory. Something with significant form (obviously subjective) must evoke, from within, a unique and peculiar feeling. Those forms or objects that provoke that emotion are referred to as works of Art.  It is the ONLY time that peculiar feeling churns. That’s an aesthetic experience and it is the only way to evaluate what qualifies as art. One does not look for it. (MM)


Watching is the least passive action. I joined the Watching Club to “carefully observe”, “notice” and “inspect” not to “view”, “perceive”, “imagine”, “be conscious of” and not to visually “search”, “learn” or “understand” the subject. I watch therefore I patiently take notice in order to further develop and to hone in on the process of paying attention. Paying  attention, i have decided, is no instinct. It has to be practiced and studied  in the hopes that the acquiring of skill will lead to more predictable moments of aesthetic response!  (MM)

<I don’t really feel like I have a strong opinion on this. Just that “watching” seems right – neither passive nor pre-determined… CJ>


  1. Jacin, one of my fellow first-year grad students, said that the fact that we are bi-coastal and doing it synchronously activates all the space in between the watches. I like that idea. We have electrified the continental US for a few hours at a time.

I truly like this idea! I believe that synchronicity is the most integral  part of being a non, non-member of the Watching Club. It is, for me, the prime motivation for commitment.  Without synchronicity, there is no incentive; no raison d’être! Where’s the feeling of membership, i ask? When i watch “with” you i feel electrified…a sense of belonging which surely stimulates even the lowliest psychopath.

Say “hi” to Jacin i have fond memories of him and love his work. (MM)


<I will tell him you say HI. So maybe this answers the question about when a watch gets rescheduled: There have to be at least two watchers, or the watch is cancelled/rescheduled…. Does that make sense as a rule?> (CJ)


  1. I keep hearing that some others might join us, but I haven’t gotten e-mails about it yet. Rachel Steinberg, the curator of the NYPOP show and Shona both seemed interested…

People who won’t watch are three-hour-pussies! (MM)


  1. The question also came up about what we would do if, while watching, we saw a crime or some other emergency. I said that the rule group hasn’t stated a position but that I would interrupt the watching to help. The watching is not somehow sacred; perhaps it can help us create or recognize the sacred that is already present, but if the watch gets interrupted and if that somehow invalidated the watch such that it couldn’t be added to the list, that’s no big deal. If someone needs help, I will help them.

Now, this is what I call silly. It goes without saying…without listing…without ruling…without positioning. The Watching Club consists of a sub-set of the Humanity Club.  We are inherently willing to be interrupted to aid victims. It does not have to be listed unless it can succinctly be incorporated into the previously ruled “ten words” OR unless help is needed coincidentally, simultaneously during both  watches.  Then it MUST be listed. (MM)

<HA. I like that. CJ>


But this then raised the issue of watching the world. It could be argued that at any given time, someone needs help, and that when watching we are setting aside the needs of others for our own aesthetic pleasure. I have thoughts about this, but I must go to class now, and I’m interested in hearing what others say…

I am not of the mind that watching is for my aesthetic pleasure. This experiment does not have a specified goal of pleasure. As i stated above, under both 1 and 4, i am thinking about this as a scientific procedure heading to a specific result. Watching is to”listening” as “seeing is to “hearing.” The latter is accidental, if you will. (MM)

<There are those who would argue that of course it is for a kind of pleasure, ultimately, or you would not do it. It may not be a simple pleasure, but it is a pursuit that is for the self and so… well… I guess it’s a question of utility. Should we use our privilege, even if it’s just the minor privilege of 2 hours every few weeks, to watch and not to help those in need? CJ>


Helping others, an aging parent, a bloody victim, a colicky baby is not at all pleasurable but i would do it gladly.  I’m not equating pleasure and privilege.   There are many other reasons to do something that are selfish yet unpleasant.


My head hurts with all this today;-)    (MM)

Rules Discussion March 8-11 2016

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