The two men debated the political problems faced by society, and the technological solutions engendered by the global network—from the Arab Spring to Bitcoin. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.
He came, later, to reject much of the essay -- notably the definition of kitsch which he later believed to be ill thought out as, indeed, it is. Later he came to identify the threat to high art as coming from middlebrow taste, which in any event aligns much more closely with the academic than kitsch ever did or could.
But for all that, the essay stakes out new territory. Greenberg was the first to define its social and historical context and cultural import.
The essay also carried within it the seeds of his notion of modernism. Despite its faults and sometimes heady prose, it stands as one of the important theoretical documents of 20th century culture.
All four are on the order of culture, and ostensibly, parts of the same culture and products of the same society. Here, however, their connection seems to end. A poem by Eliot and a poem by Eddie Guest -- what perspective of culture is large enough to enable us to situate them in an enlightening relation to each other?
Does the fact that a disparity such as this within the frame of a single cultural tradition, which is and has been taken for granted -- does this fact indicate that the disparity is a part of the natural order of things?
Or is it something entirely new, and particular to our age? The answer involves more than an investigation in aesthetics. It appears to me that it is necessary to examine more closely and with more originality than hitherto the relationship between aesthetic experience as met by the specific -- not the generalized -- individual, and the social and historical contexts in which that experience takes place.
What is brought to light will answer, in addition to the question posed above, other and perhaps more important questions. A society, as it becomes less and less able, in the course of its development, to justify the inevitability of its particular forms, breaks up the accepted notions upon which artists and writers must depend in large part for communication with their audiences.
It becomes difficult to assume anything. All the verities involved by religion, authority, tradition, style, are thrown into question, and the writer or artist is no longer able to estimate the response of his audience to the symbols and references with which he works.
In the past such a state of affairs has usually resolved itself into a motionless Alexandrianism, an academicism in which the really important issues are left untouched because they involve controversy, and in which creative activity dwindles to virtuosity in the small details of form, all larger questions being decided by the precedent of the old masters.
The same themes are mechanically varied in a hundred different works, and yet nothing new is produced: Statius, mandarin verse, Roman sculpture, Beaux-Arts painting, neo-republican architecture. It is among the hopeful signs in the midst of the decay of our present society that we -- some of us -- have been unwilling to accept this last phase for our own culture.
In seeking to go beyond Alexandrianism, a part of Western bourgeois society has produced something unheard of heretofore: A superior consciousness of history -- more precisely, the appearance of a new kind of criticism of society, an historical criticism -- made this possible.
This criticism has not confronted our present society with timeless utopias, but has soberly examined in the terms of history and of cause and effect the antecedents, justifications and functions of the forms that lie at the heart of every society.
Thus our present bourgeois social order was shown to be, not an eternal, "natural" condition of life, but simply the latest term in a succession of social orders. New perspectives of this kind, becoming a part of the advanced intellectual conscience of the fifth and sixth decades of the nineteenth century, soon were absorbed by artists and poets, even if unconsciously for the most part.
It was no accident, therefore, that the birth of the avant-garde coincided chronologically -- and geographically, too -- with the first bold development of scientific revolutionary thought in Europe.
True, the first settlers of bohemia -- which was then identical with the avant-garde -- turned out soon to be demonstratively uninterested in politics.
Nevertheless, without the circulation of revolutionary ideas in the air about them, they would never have been able to isolate their concept of the "bourgeois" in order to define what they were not. Nor, without the moral aid of revolutionary political attitudes would they have had the courage to assert themselves as aggressively as they did against the prevailing standards of society.
Ostensibly, at least, it meant this -- meant starving in a garret -- although, as we will be shown later, the avant-garde remained attached to bourgeois society precisely because it needed its money.
Yet it is true that once the avant-garde had succeeded in "detaching" itself from society, it proceeded to turn around and repudiate revolutionary as well as bourgeois politics. The revolution was left inside society, a part of that welter of ideological struggle which art and poetry find so unpropitious as soon as it begins to involve those "precious" axiomatic beliefs upon which culture thus far has had to rest.
Hence it developed that the true and most important function of the avant-garde was not to "experiment," but to find a path along which it would be possible to keep culture moving in the midst of ideological confusion and violence. Retiring from public altogether, the avant-garde poet or artist sought to maintain the high level of his art by both narrowing and raising it to the expression of an absolute in which all relativities and contradictions would be either resolved or beside the point.
It has been in search of the absolute that the avant-garde has arrived at "abstract" or "nonobjective" art -- and poetry, too. The avant-garde poet or artist tries in effect to imitate God by creating something valid solely on its own terms, in the way nature itself is valid, in the way a landscape -- not its picture -- is aesthetically valid; something given, increate, independent of meanings, similars or originals.
Content is to be dissolved so completely into form that the work of art or literature cannot be reduced in whole or in part to anything not itself. But the absolute is absolute, and the poet or artist, being what he is, cherishes certain relative values more than others.
The very values in the name of which he invokes the absolute are relative values, the values of aesthetics. And so he turns out to be imitating, not God -- and here I use "imitate" in its Aristotelian sense -- but the disciplines and processes of art and literature themselves.
This is the genesis of the "abstract. The nonrepresentational or "abstract," if it is to have aesthetic validity, cannot be arbitrary and accidental, but must stem from obedience to some worthy constraint or original.
This constraint, once the world of common, extroverted experience has been renounced, can only be found in the very processes or disciplines by which art and literature have already imitated the former.Last month, Isaac Fitzgerald, the newly hired editor of BuzzFeed's newly created books section, made a remarkable but not entirely surprising announcement: He was not interested in publishing.
I like the faith message that I get out of the "literary device" viewpoint. My only minor quibble is that the order of Genesis 1 is close enough to the natural scientific order. IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history.
THE TOWER OF BABEL AND THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES. by Lambert Dolphin. The building of the Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues (languages) in ancient Babylon is mentioned rather briefly in Genesis Chapters 10 and February When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity.
This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of . I like the faith message that I get out of the "literary device" viewpoint. My only minor quibble is that the order of Genesis 1 is close enough to the natural scientific order.