Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan: the illustrated dictionary of received ideas
Gustave Flaubert. Dictionnaire des Idees Reçues
A dictionary of received wisdom: misguided, banal, what everyone thinks and never questions. In 1852 Flaubert wrote 'It would be the justification of Whatever is, is right'.
Jorn Barger in 2002 did an analytic reorganisation of the dictionary into broad categories such as 'things to make fun of' (Philosophy: always snigger at it), things to thunder against' (Whitewash (on church walls) Thunder against it. This aesthetic anger is extremely becoming). 'Things to pretend (Illusions: Pretend to have had a great many, and complain that you have lost them all).
The kind of person, or people, defined by this dictionary of admirable philistinism is familiar to anyone who has ever read a British novel about the class system but to find it so sharply defined in France is surprising when most of what we know of France is Proust (one must claim to have read it, a long time ago though), Sartre (did him in university – brilliant), de Beauvoir (unrequited lover/feminist – really responsible for Sartre's success) — this is catching, this received wisdom stuff. The clichés come so easily, they must be just below the surface.
Anyway, wouldn't have known about Flaubert's dictionnaire if I hadn't heard about Gareth Long and Derek Sullivan's ongoing project to illustrate the dictionary. They hold public drawing sessions, one of which was at Artexte last October and another is today, June 1 at the Art Gallery of York University. They've built a special desk to do these drawings on, taken from Flaubert's last and incomplete book, Bouvard and Pécuchet, so we are looking at a large project, part performance, part book making, for there are books, small, that come out of this – one is published by Artexte (edition of 150, $40), others in smaller editions from other venues.
Flaubert on what everyone knows about architects: Architectes --- tous imbéciles. --- oublient toujours l'escalier des maisons.