Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. [Wilde – one of the endlessly quoted lines no one seems to know the source details of]
Nowhere is modern uglification more sharply defined than in the laughingly described “high” fashion world. Leaving aside the fashions themselves, look at the models. Who told them to scowl, to have darkened eyes, to frown and look as ugly as they can, to act like satan’s cloned spawn, the Agent Smithettes of the runway?
The mafia controlling the fashion world did, of course, a world of Versace murderers and others less visible. It’s no less than the assassination of the human spirit and it’s a very political move.
Music is everywhere, almost unavoidable—but it does not uplift, nor even tranquilize—it claws at the ears, sometimes spitting out an obscenity. Our plastic arts are ugly, our architecture is ugly, our clothes are ugly.
There have certainly been periods in history where mankind has lived through similar kinds of brutishness, but our time is crucially different.
Our post-World War II era is the first in history in which these horrors are completely avoidable. Our time is the first to have the technology and resources to feed, house, educate, and humanely employ every person on earth, no matter what the growth of population.
Yet, when shown the ideas and proven technologies that can solve the most horrendous problems, most people retreat into implacable passivity. We have become not only ugly, but impotent.
One of Benjamin’s most oft-quoted statements [was]: “Truth is the death of intention.”
This philosophical sleight-of-hand allows one to do several destructive things. By making creativity historically-specific, you rob it of both immortality and morality.
They want truth relativistic:
One cannot hypothesize universal truth, or natural law, for truth is completely relative to historical development. By discarding the idea of truth and error, you also may throw out the “obsolete” concept of good and evil; you are, in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “beyond good and evil.”
The whole vast construct, a worldwide construct by the way, which is one frightening aspect of it is, at the very least designed to minimize and excuse evil and in its final Nietzschean form – to deny evil altogether. That good and evil do not exist, that truth does not exist. That uplifting beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. A savage in a pit of ordure, in a hell-hole dystopia will have a completely different view of beauty and reality to a normal person from a previously untainted time.
This relativism states that that previously untainted time, which they did not experience themselves, is nothing more than relative – that the values and truths of that time were relative too and that today’s wallowing in the mire, bodies mutilated in grotesque tattooing, is just as beautiful. It’s persuasive [to them], just as leftist ideology is cunning enough to be persuasive to the left-liberal because they see themselves as the good people, nothing is sacred, nothing is intrinsically true.
Epistemology becomes a poor relation of public opinion, since the artist does not consciously create works in order to uplift society, but instead unconsciously transmits the ideological assumptions of the culture into which he was born.
The issue is no longer what is universally true, but what can be plausibly interpreted by the self-appointed guardians of the Zeitgeist.
The purpose of modern art, literature, and music must be to destroy the uplifting—therefore, bourgeois — potential of art, literature, and music, so that man, bereft of his connection to the divine, sees his only creative option to be political revolt.
“To organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel the moral metaphor from politics and to discover in political action a sphere reserved one hundred percent for images.”
Art was made ugly because, it was said, life had become ugly.
Thus, Benjamin collaborated with Brecht to work these theories into practical form, and their joint effort culminated in the Verfremdungseffekt (“estrangement effect”), Brecht’s attempt to write his plays so as to make the audience leave the theatre demoralized and aimlessly angry.
We will have to face the fact that the ugliness we see around us has been consciously fostered and organized in such a way, that a majority of the population is losing the cognitive ability to transmit to the next generation, the ideas and methods upon which our civilization was built. The loss of that ability is the primary indicator of a Dark Age.
Demoralized and aimlessly angry – this is the current state of society as a result of so many political/ideological changes but it is also a conscious goal of modern art. The one reflects the other, which in return furthers and reinforces the other and so on. The Mail introduces the idea that people are weary of democracy, on account of the behaviour of the political masters. People discuss it, it enters consciousness. Later, in referring back to it, a second article inserts, innocently: “As people increasingly turn against democracy” and so it goes.
Having created an age of ugliness, the new human spiritual and emotional wastelands are now represented in physical form, i.e. the art and fashion of the day, including music and architecture.
People are no longer able to discern beauty or the idea of uplifting, they can’t see that what is universally ugly is any more than personal opinion on aesthetics. Yes they can have their opinion but if it is not based on any historicity of aesthetics, then it is very much moving towards the nazification and Stalinization period of the 30s, adapted for the teen years of the new millennium.
“The fundamental problem with modern life is…it’s ugliness,” said Chesterton. “Men are walking in their sleep and trying to wake themselves up with nightmares.” there are no Masters today, because we’ve lost that sense of wonder, trying instead to create thrills with large-scale installations, abstract or surrealist paintings, and even films that frighten or disgust.
Instead of the subtlety of the whole process leading to the “entertaining part”, as the Schiller Institute writer says:
This new passivity, Adorno hypothesized in a crucial article published in 1938, could fracture a musical composition into the “entertaining” parts which would be “fetishized” in the memory of the listener, and the difficult parts, which would be forgotten.
Thus the slamdunk is the only important part of a basketball game and the buildup is forgotten. The wizardry of a spin bowler holding two batsmen scoreless for thirty minutes is boring, so it is eliminated in favour of 20/20 matches or big-hitting games where the big hit is the only important element. Drum and bass without the melody and overlaid parts. The blogpost, the “bites of life”, without the substance which people no longer have time for.
Benjamin referred to “the age of mechanical reproduction of art.” As technology brings great art to the masses via the net, it also reproduces and reduces it to endlessly repeated bites, devoid of soul. It’s like someone shallow “doing” a country she’s travelled to – we “did” China last year.
In the end, it trivializes greatness, does dirt on it. Just as the very act of using a woman’s wrong passage in sex does dirt on the designed purpose of sex and just as porn trivializes and debases the whole experience in favour of the “slamdunk” highlight only, so the whole experience of modern life and the capacity of the human for greatness, even in the rationalist view that Man can be great by himself, is termited, white-anted, corroded, debased.
The direness of it all was brought to you by certain icons of modern thought – it’s not accidental or part of any natural cycle in the least although they certainly recur in alarming loops. Eliminate these people and you’ve eliminated the problem.
In so doing though, you might have created a new and more terrifying beast than the uglifiers themselves. That’s also factored in. The Great Psychological Drama, the Great Work of Ages.