awesome de Kooning.jpg Figure 1: Painting by De Kooning.

ben 34.jpg Figure 2: Great calligraphy from dynastic China.

(The ancient calligraphy provides a comparison to the calligraphic beauty in the painting.)

The *relatively recent emergence of Wilhem de Kooning as an Alpha Seer may serve to demonstrate herd instinct on a more subtle level. (* i.e. Relative to Picasso or Matisse.)
The master has satisfied a few criteria to qualify him as an ideal example for our present purpose. First, De Kooning is almost a household fame so no academic in his right mind should dare to dispute the former’s specific contribution to art. Second, anyone familiar with modern art has more or less absorbed the 80 years’ worth of praise sung by our critics for De Kooning. Third, his somewhat recent status as a genius universally recognized still provides a forum for debate; somewhat like the molten iron that is being beaten into a more permanent shape. Fourth, owing to that malleability of his status, public opinion is still not fully wont to pledge its allegiance, hence the ascription of greatness to De Kooning’s name is certainly not accepted without questions asked. In other words, if you happen to be foolish or ignorant enough, or have imagined yourself quite impossible to be one of those idiots involved in a cult of De Kooning, you may still torpedo the poor painter with impunity, whose supremacy is at best only partially established.
The de Kooning painting shown here is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. With the aforesaid criteria as a backdrop, let us now explore herd instinct on a deeper and more subtle level. Pretend that you are viewing this picture at a museum, and let’s say you suddenly decide to move on, murmuring in a defiant tone soft enough lest others should overhear you,– whereby stigmatizing you as a true moron because everyone else in that room loves De Kooning and his stuffs SELL for millions of dollars, don’t they? How come you are the only exception in that room?
My point is, you should not have come to the show in the
first place!

Never go to a show out of herd instinct–or worse still, in spite of it!

Everyone is doing it, because everyone says so,
everyone takes the same shit, etc… .

Or in spite of it,– I do not believe in what the herd hold as inalienable truth; I
am never afraid to stand out as a non-believer; I wanna show those idiots they wallow in thick crap, etc….

Go to a show, my friend, “out of a love
without reservation,” like the great Knox Martin said,– a noble interest without

But how one may attain that equanimity remains in question since it
is not given to everyone to have the correct antenna for art.
Don’t you love a gorgeous sunset or Spring
flowers in bloom; or just a soft aria from Mozart? Is
your soul not massaged or your guts comforted like it
is one great day to be alive in? Go for it then, my dear friend! Don’t
touch art if you do not understand a glorious dot
about it! Don’t touch it simply because everyone is
digging it and that certainly tells my neighbors
something like a story of self-serving superiority, doesn’t it?

Now is it asking too much? Look: is it fair enough to say why should I pretend to be what I am not?
If I don’t understand art, I don’t. There is nothing shameful about it. And I just won’t pretend

I love art so much that I could simply melt in front of one!


Don’t ever tell a kid about art when you yourself have failed to
comprehend that immense love! Just out of herd instinct you
believe a teacher should teach anyway and begin to
blast the poor kid with total NONSENSE until you
cannot remember what was said the day before, when
sobering sunlight frisk your butt to see what is being
hidden there in front of a mirror?! Sobering and soul searching in front of ones own mirror!
I remember when I was doing my graduate studies at an art school,
one hapless professor told me: “Ben, I will tell you
what art is next year, this year I will simply listen
to what you have to say!” (He was bluffing,– call it a survival instinct!
In truth, the man has less feeling for art than an Oriental eunuch for His Majesty’s beautiful harem!)

Ha, Ha,…. that coming from the Professor Emeritus himself, (a High Priest in Academia!) begging the lion of an Alpha Seer, mouse-like, to spare his life!
–I call it “funny ad infinitum!”

One final advice: if you decide to place De Kooning
next to our patriotic friend Jackson Pollock and begin to “blah-blah-blah” our
poor kid about art, unrepentant and vile with your lies, the
Devil would one day have your tongue cut off,
shove it between your legs when you go to Hell
since that is a blasphemy in full bloom!

Like Knox Martin, De Kooning is destined to reign supreme after the
death of Ingres. He takes the cue from Cezanne,
Picasso, Gorky and Franz Hals,–most significantly
from his own countryman, Hals.

Yet off he went, in grand style like the eagle,–
majestic and beautiful! Never look back again! And the
mountains gets smaller as he scales the lofty heaven!

De Kooning is also the king of technique! Try holding a
paintbrush and make the kind of fabulous lines he has made
without causing a single drip,– and you know exactly
what I mean.



On this level of revelation, herd instinct is shown to have been nourished by opinions; which are in turn nourished by unfounded beliefs. The belief that De Kooning is a great artist is unfounded, just as the belief that he is not! –So is the cult of De Kooning or its abstinence;– so is the habitual herd instinct of the professor in his belief that he has been charged with the duty in dispensing unfounded knowledge of art!