The imagery and narratives that constitute art discourses are rooted in deep social assumptions, which are things we don’t know. The coercive forces of society that act on our lives and impress our work are merely understood, like parts of nature. A meaningful order, or nomos, is imposed on the discrete experiences and meanings of individuals. Cracking art codes is not possible without undermining, or acknowledging, personal prejudice—the ’tissue of clichés’ [CR note: from Barthes] by which we habitually perceive the world, and selves in world.

Jill Johnston, Secret Lives in Art

539wJill Johnston. Photograph: Jack Manning/New York Times/File 1985.