Er, no...? It doesn't look in a dangerous position to me.
What it really does, combined with the human figure, is hiding the desk border, dispensing the artist from dealing with a few awkward issues of perspective. The composition is a late addition, after all, and its front perspective is already suspect.
This seems the sort of critique that gives the art world a bad name.
"The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement. Step by step, the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes."
The only thing the "viewers" were aware of was the fact that a large rusty slab of scrap metal had blocked free movement and become an eye sore. Art is a strange thing. Not every vision or idea will be apparent to the observer.
Though I do agree that this kind of language comes off as condescending, as if the author has some form of superior artistic analysis and introspect. It's almost as if they are on the same level as conspiracy theorists, proud of the fact that they "understand" some arcane idea or fact that doesn't exist or isn't true.
While I am always quite interested in what technique or effect an artist is pursuing I share your contempt for the sort of marketing fluff you describe. Real artists' statements (eg in interviews or casual conversation) tend to be unpretentious and focus on the search for meaning, but then get rewritten into this pseudo-scholarly language by, well, BS artists.
Certainly, some people are more perceptive than others. Some are as dead as door nails. But art must ultimately be intelligible, even if abstract (and thus possibly only of niche interest). Would Raphael speak in that pompous, hollow way? Would he describe his art, if at all, by employing puffed up banalities or incomprehensible blather? I doubt it. If you pressed the person writing that stuff, he'd probably accuse you of being an unsophisticated rube, not because you necessarily are one, but because it's a nice Derrida-style tactic of evasion through insult. It only works on those with egos, though. Insecure rich rubes wishing not to be seen as Beverly Hillbillies are jackpot.
Let's take that wonderful excerpt you've given us (responses directed at the "artist")...
"The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza."
The only thing I'm becoming aware of is my anger and annoyance.
"As he moves, the sculpture changes."
Oh, really. The sculpture is changing. Was I supposed to eat that piece of blotting paper before coming here?
"Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer's movement."
It's called perspective. Congratulations. You have grasped Art 101.
"Step by step, the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes."
Yes, and the remainder of the article twirls around and around and around, until saying it could be Michelangelo, but some people think the hair looks like Heraclitus. Nobody knows, yet the author ignores that and assumes it's Heraclitus and then just drives into multiple conjectures to construct an imagined artistic premise behind an ink pot.
:-/ I don't really buy putting this much on the ink pot. If the ink pot were missing, no one would notice. As is, most reproductions of SoA just show Plato and Aristotle and cut everyone else out. I think a better statement would be "the pen in Heraclitus's hand adds unity to the picture by showing that the anachronistic crew are united in their literary ambition."
Mystery in the Masterpiece: Raphael and the case of the missing inkpot
Far from being a careless omission, the missing inkpot is a metaphor for the mystery of the creative process, whereby the artist extracts the image, stroke by masterful stroke, from beyond the veil of imagination. When the viewer has become so absorbed in the reality of the painting that the missing inkpot stands out, it is as if Raphael silently announces his own creative divinity.
I imagine Raphael and his contemporaries didn't know as much about ancient Greece as we do today. OTOH the printing press was still fairly recent so Raphael must have been conscious that books were not commonly available centuries before him.
My point is that this depiction of ancient Greece might have been deliberately fantastic which is something I had never thought before about Renaissance art.
Like they said, the figure didn't appear in previous drafts. Some student probably made the observation "hey, where's Pen Man getting his ink from?" and it wound up squeaked in on the edge of the desk.