It finally hit me what bothers me so much about the vast majority of contemporary art. It was just a matter of putting together what I already concluded earlier:
A work of art is meaningful insofar as it is effective, and it is effective in so far as it fulfills its role as a process of play that unlocks new affordances from which more play arises. In other words, Art, in the global/structural sense of the word, is in many ways a process of compound interest where the enabling of more art is equivalent to reinvestment and any contribution it makes to something like philosophy or science is equivalent to pocketing dividends.
Now before you accuse me of getting all neoliberal, this is a very loose metaphor! Whereas the compounding appreciation of money is a convergent process, art is inherently divergent and involves an ever accelerating differentiation into forking paths.
Even this is a loose metaphor, as the very efficacy of art comes from the infinitely nuanced topology that defines its material and social logic. But I digress: the problem I have with the state of contemporary art is that the vast majority of it feels like a dead end, ossified detritus that can't be built on, land that simply isn't arable.
And in general I don't blame artists: this is a natural consequence of the current economic configuration, in which things are by and large a zero-sum game where the rules of the game are to seek out easily taxonomizable trends and make a go-for-broke attempt at glory instead of organically integrating one's practice into a greater discursive/technical milieu.
More to the point, this lackluster state of aesthetics is a direct material symptom of rent-seeking and the hyperterritorialization that necessarily enables and accompanies it. One can even note a strange structural similarity to our current ecological crisis.
This is amazon.com, bitches.