In Praise of Termites  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"In Praise of Termites" is an essay by Franklin Bruno published in December 2004 stating that "Manny Farber’s paintings — like his film criticism — celebrate tiny details that can transform their immediate boundaries into big ideas." The title of Bruno's essay is a reference to the Manny Farber essay "White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art" .

"In playing down the personal, he’s miles away from Lester Bangs, his nearest equivalent in rock criticism. As Howard Hampton noted in “Let Us Now Kill White Elephants,”[1] (the Believer, September 2003), neither is a hypester or a flack, and both excel at arguing themselves past received positions. (Bangs’s love-hate relationship with Lou Reed is a more tortured version of Farber’s with Godard.) But if Farber ever staggered home from the Thalia vomiting Seconal before phoning his exes, we’re not in on it, and not merely because the New Leader wasn’t Creem. His language constantly calls attention to itself, but hardly ever to Manny Farber. It isn’t that his writing pretends to objectivity; it’s just that, in the formulation “my response to this movie,” the emphasis falls squarely upon the second term. Farber wrote as he paints: as a modernist, with all the self-consciousness about the medium that label implies, but one whose concern with his chosen subject matter is no less serious than his interest in his own materials and methods." Franklin Bruno in believermag[2]

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