Creatio ex Cultus—Sokal Art and Religion

How a ridiculous hoax can change history.

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction—Pablo Picasso

During 1917 Marcel Duchamp entered an upside-down toilet signed, R. Mutt, into an art exhibit. The Society of Independent Artists’ salon in New York—which claimed that they would accept any work of art, so long as the artist paid the application fee. The toilet was initially rejected as a hoax, but then admired, lauded as “groundbreaking”, when the true identity of the artist was discovered. Duchamp’s Sokal style hoax had worked. “Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.” Others who had followed Duchamp’s work closely, recognized the groundbreaking power of the work.

Other comments and editorials—

It also doesn’t mean that we can’t revel in the Unsolved Mystery-like scenario of Fountain’s mysterious disappearance: To this day, no one knows what became of the “original.” We only have 17 copies that Duchamp created in the 1960s“.

The nebulous origins of the fountain only add to its many layers and complexities”.

If the genesis and meaning of fountain remain elusive, it has provided countless artists with something of a starting pistol for the idea of art-as-concept in the 20th century, underscoring the fact that the definition of art itself is up for grabs“.

Enter ontology religion—

Though Cubists began breaking toilets, reassembling, bronzing, and selling them in the style of Picasso, the fact is, because of the Artists name, a new religion of crap/art gained a foothold in monetary value and influence. My guess is the original was put back into use and is once again a toilet. Here’s hoping religion too, finds a useful purpose—a history lesson

Every positive value has its price in negative terms… the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima—Pablo Picasso

And the genius of Sir John Harington, and Thomas Crapper leads to art—in the style of religion.


Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

56 thoughts on “Creatio ex Cultus—Sokal Art and Religion”

    1. Aah, but we’re told truth never changes—it’s eternal. That is another hoax to keep em spinning their wheels. Truth changes as we acquire new information.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Agreed, Lady. The Bible is best appreciated as a text that can be used to offer insight into Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, while also being a great piece of literature. It’s value in this sense, besides being aesthetically moving at times, is for the reader to find him or herself in the big picture of the great ideas. Not to follow as a literal guide book, but as an exploration of ideas and experiences different and sometimes similar to their own. Basically if done correctly it broadens our horizons and helps us broaden our perspective and experiences. Unfortunately for many believers, particularly fundamentalists, it seems to have the opposite effect! It narrows their perspective!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I like your comment CR, but do you think this was the intent of the writing and compilation of the Bible and its books? From the moment they were available the actions of those in control of them have been anything but allegorical. I agree that if one cares to learn about the near east, it is informative. But that is not why any most anybody or layman reads it, nor hears from the pulpits. And those that do regard it as authentic tend to be stuck in the ontology of the whole thing. Here we have those that don’t know history are destined to repeat it versus those that do are determined to.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Hard to answer your question about intentions for a number of reasons:

          1) The first problem is that there are so many different writers. It is more anthology than single unified book hence all the contradictions, which usually can be explained by different writers who different ideas and intentions. They all had different motivations and intentions as writers.

          2) A look at Ancient literature in general suggests literal belief and symbolic elements, usage of literary techniques, etc. are not mutually exclusive things. For example, it’s pretty clear that the Ancient Greeks in general believed in their deities and many believed in the existence of the Homeric heroes, but also understood Homer to be great literature too, which they could talk about and treat as literature with symbolic elements, rhetorical features, and character psychology.

          So getting back to the Bible, I certainly think most of the authors believed in God and their intention was to promote their ideas and reflect in some cases rules and values already a part of their society, but they did so by using literary techniques and clearly authors took liberties with their imaginations to express their theological ideas. I am pretty sure whoever first thought of adding a talking snake into Genesis understood there are no talking snakes and never actually saw one. It was probably a similar impossible as writing any type of fable or fictional story with some fantastical element; at the same time, this person may have believed in God and that he created humans. What I am suggesting that these ancient writers may have had the same impulses as the poet and the theologian; they might not have seen the two as completely different.

          Liked by 3 people

  1. The truth is often told from the teller’s point of view. Religion claims the truth from their point of view. People will lean towards the “truth” that they can accept and live with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The desire to fit-in will drive people to promote anything. Even toilet art…even religion. At least with a toilet you have a place to sit once a day.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Seems odd but we must give god the credit. The invention of the flush toilet in the 1700s has saved more lives than Louis Pasteur and all other medical intervention combined. In that sense it’s not odd at all. God is famous for drip-fed advances, pushed ahead through reluctance to answer prayers, but in the end, praise Jesus for releasing the spirits of these great inventors, just at the right time. His restraint is incredible…or is it incredulous? I forget.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Speaking of the toilet, SoundEagle🦅 has quite a lot to write about the kind that appeals to the human male in a special post published on one of my other websites, with plenty of mellifluous text and glorious images at

      By the way, since today is National Bird Day, SoundEagle🦅 is far more vocal than usual on Jim’s blog.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have said this many times before, and many times after. Truth is only truth until it isn’t truth anymore. The sun used to revolve around the earth. Stars were just pinpricks in the curtain of night. The earth was flat. No one believes any of these things anymore. No one will ever believe them again. God once ruled the universe, and did a Trumpian job of it. Now Trump rules the universe, but he is not doing a godian job of it. This too shall pass.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. No one believes any of these things anymore. Don’t be too sure!! There’s a fellow that goes by the handle of “ColorStorm” …

      If you haven’t heard of him or read any of his stuff, don’t fret. You haven’t missed a thing!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve more than met him, I tried to have a conversation with him. He knew how to write, but he had no idea how to read. Actually I’ve been running into more such people lately.
        ColorStorm had seen a rainbow or something god created just for him. That the rainbow followed a devastating storm meant nothing to him. His god was entertaining him, no concerns about others who were injured. Or something like that. I cannot remember exactly. His friends all defended him…

        Liked by 4 people

        1. The ability to overlook contradictions, really looks like reading comprehension issues at times is a faith thing. It is amazing how many times a comment comes back and it’s like they didn’t see the key points at all, or really just have complete blinders on. So worried about what they want to say, they fail to listen to anything at all.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. But then you must also consider many wear rose-colored glasses (which often blur the real world) and ear muffs (to avoid hearing about the real world).

            Liked by 3 people

            1. CS is just ridiculous. I can’t really even partake anymore. “It’s all true, every word if it”. Even the parts that are admittedly forged.

              Liked by 3 people

          2. Yup. If they actually read something, they might have to think about it, and we all know, thinking is a dangerous concept. Have faith. You already know everything you need to know…

            Liked by 3 people

  3. Within civilization, everything suffers from decadence… everything. Perhaps religion being the first driver of civilization and having been around the longest, is the one to demonstrate this truism the most. While we can still ascribe a degree of “reality” to government and money, I’d be hard pressed to give religion any kind of credibility at this stage of civilization’s implosion. If we prove “wisable” in our coming chaotic future, all three biggies, god, government and gold, will not just collapse completely but will never rise again. That’s our coming challenge, to by-pass the temptation to replace one loser with another. This we must not do again.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It seems unlikely that we wouldn’t do it again, but must not allow one to set the stage. It only takes one! Like the tourist dump baboons, the general population has to keep the bullies from rising. If not…you know the drill.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In the men’s room of the Black Dog artsy restaurant in Snoqualmie, a picture over the urinal is of a mother and (I presume) her adult daughter looking down and apparently giggling at the occupants endowment. Art that made me smile and feel slightly intimidated. Coffee in the morning, wine for afternoons, and beer at night; those two ladies have seen it all. I shall not look into another urinal without thinking of religion. Oh god.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol. That’s hilarious. I missed the black dog, but then again I moved out of North Bend in ‘88. I grew up in Snoqualmie Valley though. It’s much busier nowadays.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I used to grab my decaf rebel coffee at the cascade golf course. The owner there was a teacher of mine in high school, and we had remained friends. It was a good era.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Toilets? That looked like those fountains in Catholic churches that held alleged holy water. But I guess toilet is right as some research had been done and found high concentrations of fecal matter in those fountains! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

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