tito tito LeeThe New AusteritiesOpportunities in Alabama AgricultureThe Sweet-Scented ManuscriptThe Fields of Asphodel

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The jury may still be out on Iraq and Iran, on Brittany’s hairstyle and global warming, but by now we have a clear-cut verdict on the issue of western decline. No longer sufficient to admit that the West has lost relative position with regard to the rest of the world in material terms, it’s past time to confess that we are deep into the historically well-attested syndrome sobriqueted [my word] as decadence, a mortal condition, probably irreversible, that is reflected, indeed proved, by the waning quality of the civic and aesthetic arts in evidence today.

Has ever there been a time when merit and success were so inversely related? And really, could anything be more painful than forced to scan the roll call of America’s most famous people? Than the best-seller lists? Than our educational system? Than the conduct of billionaires? Than television?

Imagine the historians of the future trying to understand this, how the cultural contributions of the earth’s richest and most powerful nation can be summed up in terms of basketball, rock and rap, consumerism, new forms of pornography, art galleries full of high priced junk, “vibrant” neighborhoods, pulp journalism, etiolated children glued to computer screens, women soldiers, pullulating cities, special effects cinema, etc., etc., the whole bloody list.

Truth is, in its senescence our civilization has become a cultural failure, a denouement foreseen by Toynbee and others, fostered by comfort and security and a prosperity that has been too far prolonged – the worst of conditions for writers of serious intent.

(Future blogs will offer suggestions as to how writers can continue to operate under such conditions while still preserving some measure of human integrity.)


Blogger Cassandra's Sister said...

This inverted distortion of meritocracy is evident not only in the field of fiction, believe me. It’s also endemic in the glass-fronted fortresses of fine art, where feudal barons of the banal seek to reward gimmicky jest, nebulous conceptualism and misdirected artisanship (if gluing insects to Christmas cards and exhibiting the results in public libraries can be seen as the work of an artisan).

In the arts – as opposed to the world of fiction that you address - the ultimate fault for sustaining the perverted status quo lies not with the public who, less than smart though they may be, are not suckers. Confronted with some new and egregiously expensive installation of twisted plastic and crumpled soup cans, the ordinary Joe scoffs, turns and heads for Burger King – and who can blame him?

No – to discover the priesthood promoting this deification of the vacuous and mundane we must ask who benefits from that lucrative conspiracy. And the answer is the S-Club – socialists, Semites and sodomites. They are the beneficiaries of all the control, all the attention, all the lucre generated by the international group-hug that is Contemporary Art. It is in their interest to cultivate and fatten up mediocre artists who don’t know Donatello from a Dunkin’ Donut – because it would be impossible for the puppeteers to string along any artist who possessed real talent, a dedication to hard work, a grasp of art history or even the slightest sense that art should do a little more than pander to the vapid glucose-crazed appetites of louche sophomores and raddled degenerates.

I am rattling on – but I’m moved to eloquence by your article. Also it’s one of the few advantages of passing sixty that you no longer feel the need to make sure every half-wit gets their say, so you can ride roughshod over social niceties and make damn sure you’re heard.

Anyway – keep up the good work. I don’t come onto the WWW very often, but I shall seek out your site when I’m in the neighborhood.



October 28, 2009 8:38 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home