Warhols’ “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” is a philosophy book with a whole lot of nothing to say. Reading Warhol is like reading a grocery list. I mean it’s clear that he was a genius and I guess his own erudition is captured eloquently through his bland and catty musings. Yet in order to uncover any of the real meat and potatoes philosophy behind this book one finds it encapsulated in Warhols interpretation of the American ethos. He goes into explicit detail concerning:
- The transformative properties of consumerism
- Business as the best form of art
- Television as a way of life
- Things that are glamorous and things that are fabulous
Now I wouldn’t say that Warhol is boring, moreover that he wants us to perceive him as boring. One example is that when he describes his many philandering and excursions with stars or celebrities he only really goes into detail about what they were eating at the restaurant or what the hotel room was like (and if it had a Television or not). This whole book lacks any sort of felling or intensity. It is completely amoral and dry like a JCPenny catalogue or a toothpaste commercial.
The only time Warhol describes any sort of sentimentality is when he goes into explicit detail about his love affair with television. Warhol describes how he lives his life as if he was constantly on TV. One of the most prolific things he had to say about this was that after he had been shot he realized that it felt more real watching others get shot in movies than getting shot in real life.
It’s clear in this book that Warhol tried to make a simulacrum of himself like a soup can or a coca cola bottle. He talks about he prefers being told what to do by others than to making decisions for himself. To anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the American middle class labor system one can see Warhol’s alignment with the standard employee model of behavior. A staple of the American zeitgeist. Warhol was truly the quintessential American artist and philosopher.
Although this book is weird and dry it is a genuine piece of work and really exposes Warhol as the dreamy eyed simpleton that he was. You get a real sense of his philosophy or lack there of.