Despite living in what we are told is a post-modern, culturally enriched world, one needs only to tilt the head to hear Nero fiddling as Rome burns.
Idealists among us harkened for the hippy ideals. Generation X saw a facade for what it was. The hippies sold out and transmuted genuine optimism into a marketing scheme; ironically the same fate befell Gen X- the market will commodify. There's a great line in 1990's Pump Up The Volume (featuring a very young Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis.) Slater plays Happy Harry Hard-on, an already-burned-out teenage pirate radio station host languishing in a literal cultural desert Arizona, kicking back at not just the system he hates but his own generation's inability to work out anything better.
You see, there's nothing to do anymore. Everything decent's been done. All the great themes have been used up. Turned into theme parks. So I don't really find it exactly cheerful to be living in the middle of a totally, like, exhausted decade where there's nothing to look forward to and no one to look up to. - Happy Harry Hard-On
While being beautifully meta -a commercial movie about a GenX identity that was already in the process of being turned into a fashion chain in every department store- the message rings true. The movie ends with a victory of sorts, Harry is arrested but only after disseminating the truth- that the airwaves belong to everyone. That communication of ideas, free speech and putting your blood, tears and sexual fluids into your art actually matters. His unwilling and anonymous leadership of the youth of Arizona in a search for meaning led to the truth of leadership- that the power resides in the individual to create. Through creation we become free. Through freedom of creation in art, we liberate culture. Through freeing culture we become leaders, and thereby the populace at large is also freed. This is the role of art, and why artless societies die on their knees.
In the intervening three decades since Pump Up The Volume, the influence of Neo-Marxism in art has only grown the stronger. Perhaps we can give thanks to the internet-era for that. The Critical Theory disseminated by Neo-Marxists in universities and the 'Cathedral' is spread through criticism of art, which thus enslaves culture. We have become a self-conscious and critical culture, defining transgression against Political Correctness as imperfection. We experience all reality as imperfect, though unlike in past eras where imperfection is the window through which beauty can enter -a warp in the stained glass which refracts sunlight just so- we now see imperfection as a bloody stain on our society. Homogeny is the new beauty, not difference or uniqueness of character or thought. Even difference is homogeneity.
The demand from Neo-Marxist culture warriors is to recognize the spectrum of genders, biological sexes, the kaleidoscope of races in the claim that this is the freedom we were searching for all along. It is a lie. Applying critical theory to our societies has had the effect of stripping meaning from our culture, reducing identity to arbitrary characteristics and elevating these aspects over which we have limited control to the exalted zenith of art, culture- and even science.
The cultural experience can thus only be viewed through this heinous lens of identity. The art is not art without knowing who made it. Identical art produced by different people is now either an authentic expression of identity or disgusting appropriation. The canvas- our society at large- is a sprawling collaborative performance. It is the attempt at the art which is important, that which speaks of our shared identity. The stains of a million paintings, musical endeavors, sculptures. Taken as a whole experience, this is the essence of our cultural reality- messy, not to everyone's taste and all the richer for it.
To the Neo-Marxists the stain is now our culture, that we fuss at and scrub at, blurring the edges with the obsession of Lady Macbeth. Out! Out damn spot of culture! The featureless canvas on which the stain exists is the only desired result, though it may be finely crafted and look impressive from a distance when examined close is only so many identical interwoven threads. Homogenous, uninteresting. The canvas is not the artwork itself. One must stain the canvas with paint to create art. When we step back from the painting, the art is revealed to us, and through our reaction to it- ourselves.
When stains on the fabric become evident, the lens of Cultural Marxism focusses solely on them with reductive glee. The art is lost as we magnify only the fact that the canvas has been marked. The pop culture television of just twenty years ago is now as abhorrent as a black and white minstrel show. We are accelerating through the years, revising history and speeding headlong into the imperfect and meaningless present. By categorizing history as problematic, the fabric of culture is resewn into a Teflon coated straight-jacket. Nothing is able to exist for the sake of art alone. Not even mass-market light comedy-dramas are safe. Controversial or thought-provoking art must now be accompanied by a nod and a wink. 'Haha, fellow progressives, I am making this art to mess with the staid old establishment. I'm woke. I'm on your side.' Never mind that the establishment that is bucked against is little more than a meme. The imagined conservative monolith of religious leaders burning art to the applause of government lies far in the rearview mirror. Imagine, that post-modernism sneers at a paper tiger, imagining that the historical war for civil liberties never ended and the opponents of equality are in control today. This in itself is a hall of mirrors perversion of reality. This narrative, woven by hundreds of thousands of words in progressive blogs, billions of dollar worth of Hollywood movies, hours of cable news and thousands of left-wing academics in schools and universities reflects a distorted image. In this mirror, held up to show you how evil you are because of the art you once consumed, we are all monsters.
Authenticity is the worst crime in this mirror-culture. Authenticity falls foul of social justice orthodoxy because it is the essence of freedom from ideological control. To authentically create art, one must examine oneself and the surroundings and use the self -the spark of consciousness that is the soul of all men- as the lens through which art is made. It should be obvious to you that the Neo-Marxist framework cannot allow you to make your own lens. Your lens must match theirs, you must see things their way- or you are a heretic. This is how I say that the kaleidoscope of diversity is just a lens, a singularly focussed lens which demands culture is only observed in the way this lens allows. Many so-called artists comply with this lens, pandering to the new hierarchy. Fake directors, fake actors, fake news, faking it for the never-resting lens of critical theorists, forcing the smile onto a waxwork effigy of true art in the hope that they will not be denounced as problematic. If you dance to the tune well enough, it is possible an occasional misstep will be ignored. When you stand on the dancefloor giving the finger to the DJ, the bouncers respond immediately.
Shoving our own culture into the incinerator because ideology dictates that the unintended subtexts are more important that the intended message is the method by which control is exerted by hyper-sensitive wingnuts and moonbats. Ideology outweighs comedy, suffocates satire and leaves artistic license bleeding on the street on Kristallnacht.
They say I'm disturbed. Well, of course, I'm disturbed. I mean, we're all disturbed. And if we're not, why not? Doesn't this blend of blindness and blandness want to make you do something crazy? Then why not do something crazy? It makes a helluva lot more sense than blowing your fucking brains out... -Happy Harry Hard-on
Innocuous mass-market television shows from 1995 being pulled apart for making jokes at the expense of contemporary is a cough, the visible symptom of the disease that is consuming our culture. This tuberculosis runs far deeper than the critique of Friends. The fabric itself is being re-sewn so that such transgressive an art-form as a light comedy about 6 white people in America is now impossible to make. Diversity -the polite way of framing anti-white racism- is a tool for remanufacturing culture.
No wonder that we in the West have become a nihilistic people. With no faith and a dwindling supply of art that reaches the mass market all that remains is what the Hare Krishna call 'sense-addiction.' Self-gratification. Stripping life of context and meaning leaves us with an artless world. Another Star Wars movie, Iron Man, a remake, a tawdry fanfiction of a terrible vampire novel. Movies that challenge the mind must ensure to avoid any topics of cultural importance. Cultural critique is not for the artist. It is for the activist.
He who controls the present controls the past. Control the past to control the present and shape the future. The tainted past is racist, anti-gay, transphobic. To enjoy things made in the past is problematic, there is only the ever-present and culturally bereft now. The historical mistakes of thought, transgressive art that speaks to the human experience can never come again.
Neo-Marxists are born from the recognition that Marxism cannot control society through top-down authoritarian rule. In the year preceding the release of Pump Up The Volume, the fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the death blow of economic Marxism. Culture is the replacement for the means of production.
The aim today is to gestate an authoritarianism that begins from the bottom-up. This makes perfect sense from a Marxist perspective, after all, there is the school of thought that demands a permanent revolution. The workers seize the means, the workers become the political class, the political class is overthrown. While the USSR simply murdered people who did not think in the authorized manner, the Neo-Marxist revolution will produce people who are incapable of wrongthink. The art will burn. The transgressive past is so abhorrent that to enjoy it will be impossible. This might sound an outlandish claim today, but I say- wait another decade and see. Legislation is already shaped to fit the demands of these revolutionaries in most leading Western countries. At the governmental level, Western nations are incapable of seeing the wider game in which they are played as pawns.
When a society is both meaningless and incapable of producing art to challenge the concept of being -to provide a framework with which to define ourselves on an individual level- the society is on borrowed time. History teaches us so. The revolutionary, transcendental nature of art provides both a critique of society and a release valve for the destructive nature of mankind. Living together is hard. Identity is a quandary. All men feel the urge to destroy. Our art and culture allow for this revolution of the self without leading to the destruction of the society at large, as the free soul of mankind looks for meaning. Art allows us to understand the bonds between us, the differences between people. By showing the worst parts of ourselves, we become tolerant of others. What happens when we are not allowed to show the goodness within ourselves because in the process we are revealed to be ideologically imperfect? Only art which ignores human nature itself will be permittable. So long as you have a rainbow nation of humans in the cast and an authentic subplot about whether your black stormtrooper and your Latino star pilot are homosexuals, you're an artist. What was the plot again? Whose story is this, anyway?
It's a sideshow, a carnival game of near-infinite, ever-changing and diminishing hoops through which art must pass, ending with the eye of the needle- the arbitrary characteristics of the identity of the artist himself. Here we stand, with the subversion of morality and art in a dying civilization perpetuated by a self-loathing people seeking self-aggrandizement and virtue. No less Catholic for their payment of indulgences and the perverse, atheistic exultation of Islam.
You can buy your way into a Heaven that is Godless, pay alms to undeserving beggars or wash away your sins against social justice. The worthless self-indulgence of a society stood on four pillars that are now worm-eaten and teetering. Instead of repairing the foundations, it is better to replace them. The Neo-Marxist exhibits doublethink in his denouncement of Western culture in that he will claim that it is worthless while reassuring us that unlimited migration will change it not a jot. If that were true, then why advocate for the end of borders? The pillars of Greek philosophy, Roman law, Christian theology, and modern science will be replaced by the Pillars of Islam, and to the Neo-Marxist this is a fine thing indeed.
The Neo-Marxists believe that Islam will be a more compatible system than capitalism. Whether they believe that a power share is possible or that the incoming theocracy will treat them as special pets, I am unsure. What I can see is that our need for brave and challenging art is greater now more than ever before in history.
Everybody knows, but nobody does anything about it.
Being part of this civilization means to be curators of it. As Edmund Burke knew in the 18th Century, we are not a singular moment in time. We are part of a lineage of life itself and more specifically a lineage of culture. Whenever this lineage is overthrown, chaos follows. The conservation of culture, society, and land is the philosophical heart of conservatism- though there are few conservatives left these days that are worthy of the name.
...when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. -E. Burke
If our civilization means anything at all it begins with the reaffirmation of our culture. Make more art. Start today.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://republicstandard.com/art-kultur-on-being-meaninglessness/