(Anti)Intellectualizing Andy Warhol
I have lately, on a whim, been reading The Andy Warhol Diaries, and have been wanting to write a philosophical/psychoanalytic analysis of Andy Warhol, but it turns out that another fellow, Christopher Schmidt, has written it for me, and titled it “From A to B and Back Again: Warhol, Recycling, Writing.” From his references to numerous theoreticians (Austin, Barthes, Bataille, Kittler, Lacan, Wilde, Wittgenstein, even tacit traces of Bourdieu), the essay is gorgeous, and extremely well-thought out. It’s uncanny how Schmidt’s theoretical foci are so similar to my own (e.g. resisting intellectualist doxa; the way Warhol’s favored medium―the tape recorder―affected his thought; Warhol’s libidinal economy & fetishisms), similar enough that I’m obliged to shelve my hopes to analyze Warhol, at least for the time being.
My one major complaint about Schmidt’s essay is his conjecture that Warhol was illiterate; this is groundless speculation, and is flatly contradicted numerous times in The Andy Warhol Diaries, particularly when the editor points out that Warhol often (along with his autograph) wrote inscriptions dictated to him by fans; the editor’s inclusion of this fact likely was explicitly aimed at refuting accusations of Warhol’s illiteracy. From this mistaken conjecture it is clear that Schmidt has no extensive knowledge of McLuhan, who provides a much simpler explanation: Warhol was simply more attuned to the audial paradigm, and was uncomfortable with intense literariness. Besides the latter complaint, my only others are that there is an odd disjuncture between the initial part of the essay (a typical review) and the latter part (an intense theoretical analysis of Warhol), and that Schmidt’s ‘wild’ psychoanalysis gravitates toward ‘pop’ interpretations, seen acutely in his two-dimensional, cliché versions of the ‘anal’ personality and of narcissism.
To any theoretician even vaguely intrigued by Warhol, I highly recommend this essay. Schmidt does a magnificent job tying together seemingly disparate conceptual threads (particularly the bottom paragraph of pg.  with an earlier quotation by Warhol, which is not made explicit, but left for the reader to make on his/her own) and diverse theoretical perspectives. Schmidt has written a wonderfully ‘writerly’ text, the open-ended tangents of which provoke intellectual excitement and sparks of creativity in its readers.
Some of Christopher Schmidt’s Writings:
From A to B and Back Again: Warhol, Recycling, Writing
The Waste-Management Poetics of Kenneth Goldsmith
The Raw & The Cooked [a review of several books of poetry]
“Baby, I am the garbage”: James Schuyler’s Taste for Waste
**Note: To explain in brief why I think Warhol is worth taking seriously as a thinker: he exposes & sidesteps the flaws of literary intellectualism, foresees the vast implications of consumer society, and deftly uses a quasi-narcissist ethos to counteract his working class habitus.
P.S. Happy birthday, Andy. You would have been 83 today.