What’s Wrong with the World

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Die, Zeitgeist

I am indebted (I suppose) to Steve Sailer for drawing my attention to this:


And I am indebted (I suppose) to The Brussels Journal for drawing my attention to this:


Well. What is there left to say about hideous crapola of this sort, foisted on us by the "art-world" and their big-money/big-government friends?

Nothing, really. It's all been said before. Yet it just goes right on, day in, day out, year in, year out, decade after decade.

But still, familiar as it all is, I can still be shocked by the sheer, embarassingly grandiose, idiocy of it all:

“'The cave is a metaphor for the Agora, the first meeting place of humans, the big African tree under which to sit to talk, and the only possible future: dialogue, human rights,' says Barceló. Using postmodern rhetoric which closely mimics that employed by Zapatero, Barceló describes his new work as 'reaching towards the infinite, bringing a multiplicity of points of view.'

"The 1.500m2 (15.000ft2) ceiling, which was co-unveiled on November 18 by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain in the presence of UN Secretary General Ki-moon, is being hailed by the Spanish government as one of the UN’s most important works of art [sic]. Some are even comparing Barceló’s new 'symbol of multilateralism' with Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel.

"As Spaniards debate the artistic value of Barceló’s ceiling, however, excitement has turned into anger as Spanish taxpayers learn that they will be the ones footing the bill. The 13-month redecoration project has cost more than 20 million euros, all of which is being paid for by Spain. Some 60 percent of the money is coming from a group of Spanish companies that presumably have been pressured into joining a special NGO set up by the Spanish foreign ministry to 'promote dialogue through the use of Spanish art.' The remaining 40 percent is being paid for by the Spanish government, including 500,000 euros that were taken from Spain’s overseas development aid fund. Barceló, who insists that the money was not 'stolen from the poor,' will walk away with 6 million euros for his 'long, hard, fun and ultimately orgiastic' efforts."

Well ain't that special. Who would ever have guessed that Multiculturalism can make money for YOU! - NOW!!!

At least the possibility exists that the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art might go bankrupt and have to close it's doors. But can that happen to the E.U.?.

Comments (21)

Right you are, Steve.

Government sponsored art isn't any better than government sponsored marketplace intervention -- indeed it's just another example of it.

If governments didn't subsidize this decadence, it would largely die out because most of those wealthy enough to pay for it out of their own pockets are probably too smart to be fooled by this destructive pretense to art and will refuse to put their hard-earned money into keeping it alive.

But those who are smart enough with their money not to keep this madness alive are forced to subsidize it anyway because their government takes their money and gives it the leftist subverters of beauty, truth, and goodness (three things noticeably absent from the vulgar image you posted) to produce the very things that undermine the culture that the wise citizen was trying to preserve before government stepped in.

I think Roger Kimball in "The End of Art" zones in on the problem more precisely:

It is a curious situation. Traditionally, the goal of fine art was to make beautiful objects. The idea of beauty came with a lot of Platonic and Christian metaphysical baggage, some of it indifferent or even hostile to art. But art without beauty was, if not exactly a contradiction in terms, at least a description of failed art.

Nevertheless, if large precincts of the art world have jettisoned the traditional link between art and beauty, they have done nothing to disown the social prerogatives of art. Indeed, we suffer today from a peculiar form of moral anesthesia—as if being art automatically rendered all moral considerations ­gratuitous. The list of atrocities is long, familiar, and laughable. In the end, though, the effect has been ­anything but amusing; it has been a cultural disaster. By universalizing the spirit of opposition, the avant-garde’s ­project has transformed the practice of art into a purely negative enterprise, in which art is either oppositional or it is nothing. Celebrity replaces aesthetic achievement as the goal of art.

The situation tempts one to sympathize with Leo Tolstoy. In a famous passage from What Is Art? Tolstoy wrote that “art, in our society, has been so perverted that not only has bad art come to be considered good, but even the very perception of what art really is has been lost.

Prof. Baumann - I spent years working on a book, never finished, about how state subsidization had contributed to the decline of the arts in our time. But lately I've come to think that the problem is much worse, and much deeper, than that - that our whole culture is involved in some sort of bizarre *totentanz*, and that the state is merely along for the ride, taking advantage wherever and whenever it can.

I dunno.

It could easily be a "both-and." How about this for an off-the-cuff theory? Government subsidy in some area of human endeavor will always tend to intensify the effects of social pathologies in that area. So in this case, you have the pathology--the totentanz Steve refers to, the ideological hatred of beauty, etc.--but it would be feebler if it had to convince more ordinary people to subsidize it than it presently is with handouts controlled by a sector of society more likely to sympathize with that pathology. My mind is blanking. What is Robert Bork's phrase in Slouching Towards Gomorroah for intellectuals (or wanna-be intellectuals) in positions of government, etc.? It'll come to me.

Aristocles - Roger Kimball is a very smart & knowledgeable guy, and he has my greatest respect, but I think that passage raises more questions than it answers. For exmple, why should "opposition" and "celebrity" go together?

btw - I'm simply flummoxed on how to get my image links to work. Any advice is welcome.

Somewere, Marchel Duchamp is laughing hysterically.

I don't mean to be laying the blame solely at the feet of government, not at all. Especially as regards the arts, we often are the foolish and willing victims of our government's cultural wickedness. We often are the ignorant lackeys of cultural subversion from countless sources -- government being but one. We are fools who fall for nearly every cultural heresy that comes down the pike, no matter from which direction it comes. In that sense, we get the culture-destroying government -- and art -- that we deserve and prefer.

Brief addendum:
Why are drawn so inexorably to the dance of death, I do not know. But I tie it closely to the doctrine of human depravity.


I recommend highly that you read the article:


It holds great relevance to this entry of yours -- at least, in my perspective.

Nearly everyone cares—or says he cares—about art. After all, art ennobles the spirit, ­elevates the mind, and educates the emotions. Or does it? In fact, tremendous irony attends our culture’s continuing investment—emotional, financial, and social—in art. We behave as if art were something special, something important, something spiritually refreshing; but, when we canvas the roster of distinguished artists today, what we generally find is far from spiritual, and certainly far from refreshing...

The Platonic tradition in Christianity invests beauty with ontological significance, trusting it to reveal the unity and proportion of what really is. Our apprehension of beauty thus betokens a recognition of and ­submission to a reality that transcends us. And yet, if beauty can use art to express truth, art can also use beauty to create charming fabrications. As Jacques Maritain put it, art is capable of establishing “a world apart, closed, limited, absolute,” an autonomous world that, at least for a moment, relieves us of the “ennui of living and willing.” Instead of directing our attention beyond sensible beauty toward its supersensible source, art can fascinate us with beauty’s apparently self-sufficient presence; it can counterfeit being in lieu of revealing it.

Considered as an end in itself, apart from God or being, beauty becomes a usurper, furnishing not a foretaste of beatitude but a humanly contrived substitute. “Art is dangerous,” as Iris Murdoch once put it, “chiefly because it apes the spiritual and subtly disguises and trivializes it.”

This helps explain why Western thinking about art has tended to oscillate between adulation and deep suspicion. “Beauty is the battlefield where God and the devil war for the soul of man,” Dostoevsky had Mitya Karamazov declare, and the battle runs deep.

When deploring the terrible state of the art world today—Tolstoy’s word perverted is not too strong—we often look back to the Renaissance as a golden age when art and religion were in harmony and all was right with the world. But for many traditional thinkers, the Renaissance was the start of the trouble. Thus Maritain charges that “the Renaissance was to drive the artist mad, and to make of him the most miserable of men . . . by revealing to him his own peculiar grandeur, and by letting loose on him the wild beast Beauty which Faith had kept enchanted and led after it, docile.”

Thus, along with the shattering of the medieval ­cosmos and the flowering of Renaissance humanism, “prodigal Art aspired to become the ultimate end of man, his Bread and Wine, the consubstantial mirror of beatific Beauty.” How seriously should we take this rhetoric that fuses the ambitions of art and religion? No doubt it is in part hyperbole. But, like most hyperbole, talk of the artist as a “second god” is exorbitant language striving to express an exorbitant claim—a claim about man’s burgeoning consciousness of himself as a free and creative being.

I suppose "celebrity" in the Kimball quotation means "being loved by the avant garde and being hated by the bourgoisie." What more could a (certain kind of) artist want? And I suppose that it makes a kind of weird sense that "opposition" should be tied in with _that_ sort of celebrity.


Read your email :) That site and that particular style of image URL won't work (they don't allow hot-linking and that's a process-directed URL, not an actual link to an image). I'll see if I can fix it, though.

Many thanks, Todd - I think I've got the hang of this now. Fingers crossed...

O, bugger. That didn't work either. I uploaded the second image to my flickr account and linked to that, but it still doesn't show.

Oh well. Perhaps it's for the best. Anyway, those interested can click on the link.

Please remove the pornography from the main page. Anyone interested in gazing at death-works, aerial views of Le Corbusier's Soviet-style villas and 3D renderings from the Museum of Modern Art can do so after reading a "disturbing images" warning and by clicking onto a link. We already know the organ of sensitivity that opens one to God has atrophied within the empty-chested "New Man" being bred by soulless technocrats. Do we really have to be visually bludgeoned by more evidence? Make displays like this an optional form of penance, not an unavoidable assault on our senses. Please.

Do you mean on this page, Kevin?

KW, it appears on every page and may haunt us all in our sleep. Hide the thing behind a firewall, as it is an invitation to despair and an incitement to violence. Can you imagine the kind of savage who can sit on a park bench, eat lunch and take in such an atrocity? Good Lord, the trousered apes are taking us all with them in their spiral of death.

Your earlier comment is preferable. Isn't it true that we replicate these objects of attention by paying attention to them? So the task at hand for everyone affianced to truth and beauty is to redirect attention.

In this regard, hats off to aristocles!

I uploaded the second image to my flickr account and linked to that, but it still doesn't show.

Fixed again!

Todd - you're a genius!

It's Thanksgiving and I have time to read Plato's Timaeus.

So whenever the craftsman looks at what is always changeless and, using a thing of that kind as his model, reproduces its form and character, then, of necessity, all that he so completes is beautiful. But where he to look at a thing that has come to be and use as his model something that has been begotten, his work will lack beauty.

So that's Platonic beauty, which is one of a kind of beauty.

I know little about the artwork pictured for this thread. I don't know who made it or paid for it. But I do know that artwork lacking beauty isn't always operating on a destructive pretense. This isn't offered in defense of ugly art, but out of pity for the artists: they know no other life. What you see is what they see. That is a benign explanation.

As to why governments might have an interest in subsidizing "ugly" art, I would answer that such artwork is effective to create an emotional disposition in the masses which helps them recognize who their saviors are. The location of such artwork is indicative. It's Promethean.

(In the same way, we have politicians happy to say how bad things are. We have Obama to say that Thanksgiving comes during a "Time of Great Trial.")

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