The proposition that all men are equal has often been extended to all the creations of men. In modern times, the connection between art and intelligible meaning has been severed, instead bringing art into the realm of personal expression. Rather than art reflecting the truth as translated from a higher realm, or from myth, art is instead taken to be derived from the inner self of the artist.
Art, rather than connecting with a cohesive culture that forms a whole with the historic and mythic record, instead becomes disconnected expressions from individuals, with few if any allusions to works outside an individual piece. The works stand on their own rather than requiring acculturation, learning, experience, and familiarity with the underlying themes and moral outlook of the artist.
When people are held to be all equal, it follows that art which is derived from those equal-people must all be of similar value. Modern art museums are temples to this notion. A broken piano, titled like a sculpture, can be portrayed adjacent to an abstract canvas with no coherent form or meaning beyond the subjective interpretation of the viewer.
Art stops being about a visual expression of a shared overarching philosophical understanding of the culture, and more about the meta-game of showing reverence and contemplation to whatever arbitrary ‘work’ the cultural elite serves up on the museum wall or floor. If they tell you to revere a bronzed pile of dog shit, playing the game means revering that pile when it’s fashionable to do so, and spurning it when it ceases to be cool.
The worship of art-as-self-expression is in turn a method of self-worship. When the equal-man praises the art that comes from the other equal-man’s most inner self, he is praising that infinite loop of self-glorification, self-obsession, a mind gone feral examining and re-examining its own thoughts, no matter how banal those thoughts might be.
Contemporary high-artists, many of whom rely on state support through grants, along with beggary from foundations, tend to feel continual frustration that so few appreciate their perverted acts of self-expression, foisted upon a population that feels no organic appreciation for it.
This shouldn’t be a surprise: it’s what happens when you drop a collectively-constructed culture which is an active collaboration between the living and the dead, instead making it about imposing an individual, un-shared, disconnected inner vision upon an audience that has no means of connecting with it in an authentic manner.
The West, having largely severed its cultural links to the past, finds itself dis-coordinated into mutually unintelligible groups. Despite the conglomeration of what used to be thousands of dialects into enormous language-blocs, people can understand one another less and less.
To shear culture down into something that can be understood like a function, it’s a common mentality shared by a large group of people, buttressed by moral teaching, ritual, and storytelling. When there’s limited commonality between each person, real communication is impeded, and intimacy between friends, family, and strangers alike becomes close to impossible.
There’s a reason why internet-daters list their favorite television shows, movies, and novels on their profiles: they’re hooks to use for conversation. A shared comprehension of art, that which symbolizes human experience, is what makes bonds between people possible.
Given that that notion of shared comprehension has been badly battered by mass subjectivism, the means by which we can forge real connections with one another have been similarly obliterated.
Very good piece. This is one of the problems with art I’m hoping that I can challenge with my blog. Video games are for the most part, one of the last few forms of media which still connect us to the original humanist expressions of the old masters. Video games glorify brave, strong men who are willing to fight and die for what they believe in. Many games have more in common with the epics of old than they do any modern form of “art”.
As for the embarrassment of modern art, I touched on this with this article: https://therightvidya.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/its-cool-to-hate/ Hatred is perhaps one of the most important games of the modern era because it violently, vitriolically rejects everything about the modern world and what the average intelligentsia-wannabe tries to pass off as “art”. It’s an empty, nasty insult to all that the Cathedral holds sacred, taking the same blatantly vicious approach as the Cathedral’s “art” does to tradition and morality.
Thanks — I’ll take a look at this.
There’s also a less crude writeup I put out which does the opposite, and celebrates professional wrestling as an excellent form of art. I’m much more proud of that than I am endorsing a game about mindless bloodshed: https://therightvidya.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/wrestle-kingdom-ix-a-night-to-remember/