Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
A recent piece in The Tablet called “The Great Debasement” articulates a phenomenon that has spread like a fungus these past few years: namely, art and its almost complete appropriation by the ideology of “cultural studies analysis.”
“[T]he debasement is nearly complete,” writes Alice Gribbin. “The institutions tasked with the promotion and preservation of art have determined that the artwork is a message-delivery system.”
God forbid we should simply gaze upon, say, a painting that might otherwise expand our hearts, spur our imaginations, or make us weep. At every turn phrases like “the hierarchies of race,” “colonialist influences,” and “unequal impacts” turn us away from transcendence and toward identity politics.
The same creeping groupthink has bled into music and literature. Or as Gribbin puts it: “The figure of the contemporary artist we know today is an invention of the bureaucrats.”
I’m forever on the lookout for the artist who is not an invention of the bureaucrats. Recently I came across a small gem of a book originally published in 1964. Chantemesle: A Normandy Childhood, by Robin Fedden (1908-1977), an English writer, diplomat and mountaineer.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.