Friday, July 11, 2014
Leftist art snobbery
Perhaps saddest of all in Leftist art snobbery as described below is that the snobbery usually has so little behind it. From my knowledge of these types, they would not know Janacek from Chaucer. Genuine respect for great art is fine. Thinking that your taste in some way makes you superior is ludicrous. I generally crush them by saying: "As the Romans said: "De gustibus non disputandum est"". Latin is prestigious but they rarely know any so I am usually left with the last word. It would be too humiliating for them to ask for a translation. And if they DO know any Latin, it is hard to argue with the saying concerned
“Perhaps it all goes to show that the middlebrow is inherently corrupt.”
That’s a particularly sweeping statement of smug class-conscious snobbery, even by Guardian standards.
Guardian blogger Jonathan Jones feels vindicated. He alone once had the courage to call the inexplicably famous Rolf Harris a shitty painter to his face, and now Harris is a convicted child molester, so there. Or something.
Jones didn’t even bother name checking the usual convicts—disgraced American daubist Thomas Kinkade; serial killer-cum-clown painter John Wayne Gacy; the freeze-dried personification of evil Amerikkka, Walt Disney—to bolster his theory. Why bother?
“For me, what’s most revealing is that liberals treasure their own beloved catalogue of—and there is no other word for it—kitsch.”
Pointing to frustrated artist Hitler’s taste for baroque spectacle and corny symbolism, leftists have equated lower- and middlebrow kitsch with fascism for generations, and “fascism” with “anything they don’t approve of” rather more recently. (When I still “worked” with flaky progressives, my complaints about their inefficiency were always met with a somber, “Mussolini made the trains run on time, you know…”)
If earnest, unironic kitsch is Nazi Germany, then its first cousin—gay, “edgy,” winking camp (which the left adores)—is Weimar. And we all know who won that scuffle. But leftists love nothing so much as a lost cause. Camp is the Spanish Civil War of aesthetics.
Jones is convinced that Rolf Harris’s paintings and those of his ilk are not only the artistic equivalent of asbestos, but that their lumpen admirers deserve to die of such chemical poisoning anyhow. For instance, Jones loathes ubiquitous café-wall-décor-generator Jack Vettriano, too, condemning him for being “popular with ‘ordinary people’” and “the artist we deserve.” With his tone of millenarian misanthropy, the gnostic Guardian critic sounds more like another Jones—the Jim of People’s Temple infamy.
It’s all simple and obvious to me, if not to Jonathan Jones (who fairly personifies the phenomenon): our personal taste and aesthetic judgments—our sheep vs. goats categorization of “kitsch” and “camp”—are status signifiers of social class and tribe. (See the exquisite satire at Stuff White People Like.)
If Jones were correct, then Lourdes—the roads to which are lined with tacky gift shops—would be piled with bodies, not crutches. The music of Lawrence Welk or Pat Boone may prompt thoughts of suicide, but rape? Murder?
But Jones is a culture critic at the Guardian, and I’m not. So I turned to his opposite number overseas, who, appropriately enough, also belongs to a tribe not my own.
I have little in common with Slate music critic Carl Wilson other than a 416 area code. He announces early on in his essential Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste (aka “That Celine Dion Book”) that he feels “put off” “when someone says they’re pro-life or a Republican.” To his credit, he promptly acknowledges that such a “gut reaction” is “crudely tribal.” Indeed, the book might have just as profitably been entitled Up From Snobbery.
After introducing myself as one of those off-putting types, I asked Wilson via email: Wasn’t Jones’ conflation of tacky art with child abuse and presumably every other imaginable atrocity not only just plain weird, but also embarrassingly dated? Did critics still believe in a “middlebrow,” a taxonomy I thought they’d agreed to denounce as “racist” some time ago?
Wilson responded promptly and at some length. Calling Jones’ “leaps” in logic “completely intellectually bankrupt,” Wilson—echoing a certain notorious conservative movement “gateway drug”—pointed out that many “highbrow” familiars, such as Picasso, Miles Davis, and T.S. Eliot, were hardly paragons of virtue, “but you’d be foolish to argue that any of their work was somehow kitsch or a ‘lie’ as a result.
“Likewise, many mediocre artists are perfectly delightful, caring and compassionate citizens, but that doesn’t make their work any better. (Although Canadians sometimes seem to think so.)
“The idea that it is illegitimate for art to be comforting, to celebrate human warmth, seems to me ridiculous,” Wilson continued. “A well-done portrait of a beloved figure [such as Rolf Harris’s portrait of the Queen] might not be profound, but is it somehow evil, while a badly done, at least equally kneejerk, nihilistic or ‘rebellious’ punk-rock song or violent paint splatter deserves greater respect? (…) [S]eeking confrontation is a luxurious impulse to have—it suggests that there’s little enough suffering in your life that you don’t mind looking for ways to feel worse.”
For me, what’s most revealing is that liberals treasure their own beloved catalogue of—and there is no other word for it—kitsch. Ten bucks says Jonathan Jones owns or has owned a Che T-shirt and a rainbow flag lapel pin, and drives a car with a “Free Tibet” bumper sticker. Or maybe “COEXIST.”
When will liberals—who are constantly rebranding themselves—just settle on the unwieldy but far more accurate moniker, “The It’s-Different-When-We-Do-Its,” and have done with it?
Keep Your Team Name And Wear It Proudly
Leftist leadership tries to shame America into believing we are perpetrators of oppression, putting ordinary people on the defensive in order to give their failed policies a free pass. In doing so, they have underestimated the people of this great and beautiful land.
Leftist leadership sees the name of the Washington Redskins as offensive and says so loudly, backed by Congressional leaders and even the President. With the IRS Scandal, VA Scandal, Fast and Furious, The Bergdahl “Trade”, and misuse of executive power at the forefront of administration scandals, it would seem democrats in Congress would want to focus on other pressing issues.
The leftist leaders see fit to regulate the intricacies of our leisure activities because we, the American people who love football (American football), are not to be trusted with even the names of teams according to them.
Growing up, I always took pride in American Indians and pretending, while playing sport, that my team was a team with an Indian name. And never was it an insult to be the Indians fighting cowboys. It was cool and what finer warrior could there be but the American Indian? But the left will not allow even the kids to have their fun. Leftist leaders often look down on masculine sports, such as football, just like they do military culture. They want to assert control even of things of which they have no business doing so and know little about, for these things are the antithesis of who they are.
To them Braves are not brave but racists. We can keep Yankee fans though, especially if that is offensive to the South. Pretty soon every other name will be so offensive that you will not be able to retreat from the safety of your home until you have the politically correct version of mascot names for leisure activities. I would still like to see one documented case of where the name of a sports team turned someone into a racist. Soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, children starve, and people are desperately seeking answers to their existence while leftist leadership prioritizes team names. Something does not add up with their priorities.
The effect of political correctness, as seen in campus speech codes and changing of team names, will be felt in generations to come. The very definition of progressivism means that leftist policies will grow ever leftward until total control is theirs. Leftist leadership will never tell you what their stopping point is. If they were granted everything they wanted, the next election cycle would see them go even further left. Their lack of a sense of history is appalling.
The leftist leadership is supposedly interested in debate but they want no debate. The domino theory of extreme leftism, throughout history, confirms this. They push for more government control, more speech codes, and fewer personal property and individual rights.
People on the right are not perfect (perhaps seen by greater percentages of rightist evangelical expression of the need for a personal savior), but its Conservative social policies are time tested and they work. The leftist leadership believes an impersonal government, that could throw anyone into prison for a tax code violation because of the complexity of laws (save its own Treasury Secretary) can be entrusted with your life as well as your speech and dignity. No thanks.
Despite the self suicide that leftist leadership is trying to inflict from within, the American people are none of those things the leftist leadership says we are.
The Americans are not racist, warmongering, or any other falsity that the mostly leftist college experience tries to bestow upon people. Rather, Americans are part of a special, unique, and fundamentally decent people. DeTocqueville knew that when he came here. So did the man from Europe who sat next to me at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, in awe of how Americans serve the world and love their country.
Americans give to the poor, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. They send missionaries throughout the world who, along with American soldiers, die for their beliefs so that others may be free.
Who does the world call when they are in trouble? They call America and its legions who come from many different names.
Keep the names you want whether it be Redskins, Yankee, Brave, Indian, Veteran, Christian, or American. And wear them with pride always.
A Primer on Race
Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience. "Please do not do any more good in my country," he said. "We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done."
That is essentially the message of an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is "Please Stop Helping Us." Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum wage laws to "affirmative action" quotas.
This book untangles the controversies, the confusions, and the irresponsible rhetoric in which issues involving minimum wage laws are usually discussed. As someone who has followed minimum wage controversies for decades, I must say that I have never seen the subject explained more clearly or more convincingly.
Black teenage unemployment rates ranging from 20 to 50 percent have been so common over the past 60 years that many people are unaware that this was not true before there were minimum wage laws, or even during years when inflation rendered minimum wage laws ineffective, as in the late 1940s.
Pricing young people out of work deprives them not only of income but also of work experience, which can be even more valuable. Pricing young people out of legal work, when illegal work is always available, is just asking for trouble. So is having large numbers of idle young males hanging out together on the streets.
When it comes to affirmative action, Jason Riley asks the key question: "Do racial preferences work? What is the track record?" Like many other well-meaning and nice-sounding policies, affirmative action cannot survive factual scrutiny.
Some individuals may get jobs they would not get otherwise but many black students who are quite capable of getting a good college education are admitted, under racial quotas, to institutions whose pace alone is enough to make it unlikely that they will graduate.
Studies that show how many artificial failures are created by affirmative action admissions policies are summarized in "Please Stop Helping Us," in language much easier to understand than in the original studies.
There are many ponderous academic studies of blacks, if you have a few months in which to read them, but there is nothing to match Jason Riley's book as a primer that will quickly bring you up to speed on the complicated subject of race in a week, or perhaps over a weekend.
As an experienced journalist, rather than an academic, Riley knows how to use plain English to get to the point. He also has the integrity to give it to you straight, instead of in the jargon and euphemisms too often found in discussions of race. The result is a book that provides more knowledge and insight in a couple of hundred pages than are usually found in books twice that length.
Unlike academics who just tell facts, Riley knows which facts are telling.
For example, in response to claims that blacks don't do well academically because the schools use an approach geared to white students, he points out that blacks from foreign, non-English-speaking countries do better in American schools than black, English-speaking American students.
Asian students do better than whites in schools supposedly geared to whites. In New York City's three academically elite public high schools -- Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech -- there are more than twice as many Asian students as white students in all three institutions.
So much for the theory that non-whites can't do well in schools supposedly geared to whites.
On issue after issue, "Please Stop Helping Us" cites facts to destroy propaganda and puncture inflated rhetoric. It is impossible to do justice to the wide range of racial issues -- from crime to family disintegration -- explored in this book.
Feminism As a Mating Strategy Among Beta Males
First they came for the male feminists, and no one spoke out—because no one likes them, not even the female feminists
Dearest faithful reader, I’m a man who finds something to dislike about nearly everything and everyone, yet even I find male feminists to be especially grating—they’re perched wayyyy up near the top of my “Don’t Like ’Em” list. The very term “male feminist” seems as masochistically counterintuitive as “black Klansman,” “Jewish Nazi,” or “white Democrat.” Sure, one expects women to be feminists, just as one should expect all living organisms to be motivated by self-interest, but there’s something downright gender-traitorous about male feminism. Self-loathing is not an attractive trait in any of God’s creatures, and these dweebs are the Benedict Arnolds of the Invisible Biological Brotherhood.
It only took me a cursory perusal of Google Images to get the strong suspicion that most males get into feminism for the same reason that females do: because they are failures at embodying their gender’s most attractive traits. In other words, females become feminists because they’re failures as women, while men do it because they’re failures as men.
The white knight gallops in quickly and wants you to look at his shiny white horse, because if you took a long hard look at him, you’d never agree to get on that horse and go galloping into the sunset with him.
Seriously—have you seen many of these self-proclaimed male feminists? When I see all these sullen dorks standing like political prisoners holding their “I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE…” signs, I wish that one of them could be honest and say they need feminism because they’re not naturally attractive to women.
I therefore posit that in at least some cases, male feminism is a mating strategy for men who aren’t getting laid on the virtues of being men alone. So they switch gears and attempt to get laid on the merits of proclaiming to be feminist “allies.” The “allies” thing is all lies. It is a sneaky way of trying to appeal to women by loudly proclaiming that you hate the type of guy who normally appeals to women. I believe the most reasonable explanation for the very existence of the modern “male feminist” is rooted in evolutionary biology: Calling oneself a male feminist is a deceptive and despicable little shame-dance, a pathetic self-puffing mating ritual that beta male lizards do to garner even a scrap of female attention.
It’s like going to some pro-marijuana rally because you know someone there is going to have weed. If you hang around enough girl feminists long enough and claim to be a feminist, sooner or later one of them will f*ck you…maybe…right?
I theorize that these genetic-lotto losers—who tend to be either too fat or too skinny yet are invariably too unhandsome—obviously aren’t going to sow much seed being the uninspiring specimens of near-manhood that they are, so they appeal to feminine wiles in a sort of Hail Mary pass.
But their untrained and unskilled minds don’t grasp that you don’t have to be a male feminist to get laid; in fact, all the available evidence suggests it’s an impediment. I would go so far as to pay top dollar for verified scientific evidence of a woman lubricating to the sound of a man saying, “I’m a feminist.”
For all that they claim to be women’s natural allies, these schmucks don’t have the first clue about female psychology, or they wouldn’t need to turn to feminism as a sort of invisible date-rape drug. To these self-centered bitter little men bouncing around in their baby bubbles, it’s not really about empathizing with women at all, because they obviously don’t understand how women operate; it’s about scoring with women. It is in this sense that male feminists are more misogynistic than, well, you know, the misogynists. Failing desperately in the categories of natural charm and sex appeal, male feminists seek to gain access to women’s bodies via deception.
Male feminists are therefore, by my own tortured logic, the biggest enemy that modern women currently face. They excuse and thereby enable the worst excesses of female feminist behavior while symbolically cuckolding their own entire gender on the outside chance that one of these girls will sooner or later consent to giving him oral.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.