Tuesday, February 15, 2005

You Put Your Politics in My Art!

Artists used to be more popularly regarded as the "antennae" of society, to steal from Pound. Now they are treated with extreme derision and condescension if they dare to express their opinions. Is this because contemporary artists are more foolish than their forebears, or has the level of education of artists never really changed, and it's more a matter of the rampant rationalization, specialization, and credentialism of our society? Do the best of them have a special way of seeing the world that we can learn from, or are they just...gifted flakes?

I have a friend who is working on a book about this very question, and I can't wait to see where he comes down on it. So we'll leave the art and politics question to him, and RUFNKM will keep grappling with "should Blogger have a breathalyzer test?" But if you still want to "unpack" the art and politics question, to use my least favorite phrase of a favorite professor, head down to Washington, D.C. on March 7 for a lecture by Terry Teachout.

Can political art fully satisfy the claims of truth and beauty? Or is it fatally compromised by the passionate desire to persuade? The drama critic of The Wall Street Journal offers a report from the front lines on the increasing politicization of art in 21st-century America—and the growing inclination of contemporary artists to take the political views of their audiences for granted.

We here at RUFNKM love Terry Teachout, even if he is giving the lecture at AEI. Check him on the blogroll (Arts Journal: About Last Night). I can't believe I still haven't cracked his biography of H. L. Mencken, Mohammed of the RUFNKM Caliphate.

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