“Speaking Truth to Art”

Most normal people know that much of what passes today as “art” is simply self-indulgent crap.

Gary Wolf at the American Thinker[*1] considers why this is so:

There is yet another problem with our “artists.” They believe that all prior rules can be tossed into the dustheap. What they do not realize is that no area of human endeavor, be it medical research, fine art, or football, can exist without a foundation of rules. These rules are the result of characteristics inherent in the material, and of the interaction between the material and man. For instance, in the visual arts, certain proportions are more pleasing to the eye than others. If the rules are rejected, the domain ceases to be what it was. A person submerging a cross into a beaker of urine is no longer an artist, just as a group of people running aimlessly around a field is not a football team.

Of course, this line of argument presupposes that the artist wants to produce something that is gratifying, that contributes to humanity, that enriches people’s lives. But when the goal is to devastate, the whole scene shifts.
. . .
There is a dire need to revisit basic principles, to fortify the foundations, to revitalize common sense. People used to understand much more about life and how it functions. We’ve become too myopic. The individual, highly specialized, often knows a great deal about a narrow subject. When it comes to general knowledge, however, and a sober view of life, he knows less than ever before.

There is a need for a second renaissance. The original Renaissance was marked by a heightened awareness of the ancient world, with its expansive intellect and relentless probing of reality. This conceptual recycling provided much of the fuel needed to launch principles of thought and inquiry that provided the escape hatch from the Dark Ages, and that formed the basis for the subsequent growth of material and spiritual riches. Now it is up to us to realign ourselves with the Renaissance thinkers, using their ideas as a springboard. It may be the only way to reverse a century or more of precipitous decline, and hoist our miserable civilization, kicking and screaming as it may be, out of the current dark ages.

It might be a bit of a stretch to say that we’re in a new “dark age” but all too much “art” nowadays does truly suck.