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To My Video Viewers: You're Missing the Best ONes!


To My Video Viewers: You’re Missing the Best Ones!

The viewing numbers for the Pure and Remote View series are, on the whole, gratifying--over 2,800 people have watched the first lecture, for instance. But looking at the viewing numbers for the later lectures, I note with distress that several of the richest and most important, both in images and in what I have to say about them, haven’t attracted large viewerships, maybe because I titled them unwisely. So my fervent message to my video viewers is: forget those titles that may make the lectures sound unattractive, and go back and watch these! They are:

- Lecture 5, Five Dynasties Painting: Reliable Works. All right, that was a badly-chosen title. But the lecture is more rewarding, I think, in its visuals and in my argument about them, than Lecture 6 which is titled “The Great Landscape Masters” and has been viewed by over a thousand people.

- Lectures 7a and 7b, on Early and Late Northern Song Landscape--again, badly titled so little watched. But if I were to choose a real high point for the whole series, this would be it--both the paintings and my lectures about them. I state that Northern Song landscape painting is up there among the great works of man, along with Gothic cathedrals and German romantic music. Watch them and judge for yourselves. But watch them, and listen.

- Lecture 9C, Masters of Representation: The Southern Song Academy. So “representation” has become an off-putting word, while “literati” or “poetic” draws you in. Alas, that’s the affliction of art history in our time that I’m forever arguing against, exemplified in the viewership of my own lectures. Be an exception to the trend, watch this one please. Even if it’s about representation.

- Lecture 12C, Six Persimmons. All right, the title doesn’t draw you in, and once you’re in you may not have the patience to finish it. But this is another of the really central and important ones, in which I make the attempt to define what Chan (Zen) painting is, and even, in a limited outsider’s way, what Chan is. Watch it please!

I will try to have learned my lesson and to avoid, in future, giving dull titles to lectures I really want to promote. I should have known better before titling these PRV lectures. This plea to my viewers to go back and watch the badly-titled but really important ones is an attempt to make up for that mistake.

James Cahill, February 24th, 2012

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