Saturday, July 04, 2009

Art Without Objective Value

The process in which our world is being deconstructed is the following. It is best made visible in art and culture, but through its anti philosophy it slowly permeates every walk of life, until one day we find ourselves plunged into the black hole of nihilism.

Narrative: "Morality is relative and depends on your point of view; the same is true of beauty and any other value; our values are middle class; values are evil, Western constructs; objective art (science, music (tones), drama, literature (language, letters) ballet (movement), culture, education, gender, family, religion, etc.) must be liberated from the constraints put upon it by evil, Western, objectivists; old culture must be attacked and destroyed."

This process of the hatred of the good for being good cannot go on forever without consequences.

City Journal: "Beauty and Desecration - We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness", by Roger Scruton

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art.

At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes. Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue. In a seminal essay—“Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” published in Partisan Review in 1939—critic Clement Greenberg starkly contrasted the avant-garde of his day with the figurative painting that competed with it, dismissing the latter (not just Norman Rockwell, but greats like Edward Hopper) as derivative and without lasting significance. The avant-garde, for Greenberg, promoted the disturbing and the provocative over the soothing and the decorative, and that was why we should admire it. (...) >>>

Related:

- Stephen Hicks: "Why Art Became Ugly"

2 comments:

Shawn said...

I don't think there is any such thing as a consistent relativist. I have yet to meet anyone who claims to be a relativist and, when pushed to the logical conclusions of their alleged beliefs, does not yield an aspect of their life in which they do, in fact, depend on some degree of belief in an objective norm. I think the depths of the human soul secretly abhors relativism because such an ideology can only logically lead to chaos and a complete annihilation of civilization and the merit of its preservation. Perhaps I'll write a follow up post of my own on this.

Cassandra Troy said...

Thanks for the comment, Shawn. You are right, but the problem is that that doesn't win you the argument with the relativist, nor does it mean he understands the error of his ways. Since the Hegel dialectic contradictions have become a part of "logic". Not that they do logic, but rather they feel intuitively that that must be the case since they are always morally right. I'm afraid accidents must happen before the message is driven home.