State of Art
With art today, it’s hard to feel otherwise than discouraged.
I recently told a friend: books that, twenty years ago, would never have been recognized are winning grand prizes, along with stories and poetry I can barely finish reading. Performers do not write their music. They achieve fame based on looks, as if music were a beauty pageant.
One might say humans are quickly regressing.
Is this fair to earlier times?
Has anything rivaled 1960s New York?
Perhaps a few singular works—but as a movement?
Surely there has been nothing philosophically significant since Levinas first responded to Heidegger (mid 20th century), and given that Heidegger dressed his “magnum opus” largely in borrowed robes from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, it’s fair to ask if groundbreaking philosophical output stopped mid 19th century.
What are we prioritizing? Technology.
That question requires no great “advance.”
Technology governs our world. Why? It makes everything convenient.
Were it not offensive, I would assert (without semblance of disclaimer) that secular, post-modern society has replaced God with convenience.
Why? I cannot answer because technology holds no intrinsic value.
Convenience is external and, by definition, opposes such value.
Are humans regressing?
Technology proves beneficial—in developing medicine, for instance (which ensures life)—but, if convenience is the motive, rewards are accidental.
Where does this leave artists?
I am told art is exhausted.
“No potential for originality. The avant garde in decades past is commonplace.”
This is how people felt before the vanguard produced whatever cutting edge art these skeptics reference.
In spite of disapproval, rejection, squalid living and mortal illness, artists have churned out innovative work since humans became intellectually capable.
It would be foolish to assume this will not happen again, on a grand scale, because it has not lately.
If humans are regressing, art will incite reversal. What else is art’s purpose? Were intrinsic value not designed to reproduce, its “value” would be suspect.
To instill its full impact, art must seemingly arise from nothing. Igniting a movement and summoning followers requires negative comparison.
Drought must precede the storm.
Kierkegaard’s opponents knew his magnitude early, declaring his first major work “a bolt of lightning from a clear sky.” This portrayal signaled more than one hundred years of service to Existentialism.
Without an irruption of monotony, blasting established order, absence of value persists. A righteous battle cannot ensue until shots are fired.
Artistic revolution presupposes an enemy. It has the strongest effect when unique and utterly necessary.
We are waiting for a masterpiece.