We Must Also Be Good
Post #1574 • November 2, 2012, 8:05 AM • 3 Comments
There is nothing new in using art to pay a spiritual debt. But we do it differently, now that we have developed a strange idea that art should be a reflection of our society. We decided that art is not to "soften and humanise the mind", as Sir Joshua Reynolds said—such lofty sentiments are now dizzying. Art is not the wise balm of beauty to our rough and rushing lives, it is just the odd fact excerpted from life; it should be as rough and rushed—and as blandly real—as the rest. But, strangely, despite the currency of nihilistic arguments, our minds have not so hardened that we can fully prise Art away from Virtue. Precisely the people who would laugh at the old ideas of Reynolds, and call him pompous, prudish, even sick, inherit from him their extraordinary esteem for art, whatever art may be. But they even exaggerate and pervert his esteem. Art is no longer for the good; art is, essentially, good. Therefore, since art reflects us, we must also be good. Perhaps that is why so many otherwise reasonable people have let their sanity slide and applauded contemporary art; and that is why they let art be the vehicle for money and reputation laundering. Wherever there is art, there must be good. The more there is, the better we are. And, with our drunken faith in markets, believing that value is price, the more expensive art is, the better it is, so the better we are. So they thought.