A visit to the exhibition (login required) of the graduating students of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris reinforces the uncomfortable (though familiar) conclusion: art is dead, useless, corrupt…..
But it is not globalization that has produced this effect upon artistic judgment; the rot is internal to the art world itself, as has been the rot in the humanities departments of our universities. Strange as it might seem for someone without religious belief to say it, the loss of belief that there is anything sub specie aeternitatis has rendered art trivial, no more than a kindergarten activity for adults who want to feel special and whose thirst for self-expression is greater than anything they have to express. Moral and aesthetic capital is not expended all at once, but gradually; it is run down steadily until none remains. As “felicità 17” demonstrates, none remains.
Read the piece for the descriptions of the students’ works and ponder: these are the best and the brightest.
Ugh. As noted in The Salisbury Review, you can now add public lavatories to the list of places where you cannot escape the oppressive imposition of pop music:
I have an aversion to rock music at the best of times. It seeps into the public space in the western world as martial music and political propaganda seeps into the North Korean public space (and all space in North Korea is public). Its enveloping sound irritated me greatly in the lavatory at Nîmes station.
A rough calculation reveals that most of us may spend as much as two months of our lives tying and untying our shoes, reminding us that most of life is spent in banality:
But, you might say, this is only but a very minor part of life, and so it is. Unfortunately, life is composed of very minor parts. Think of all the other things you have to do, no more interesting than putting on your shoes and tying your laces. I have to shave every day, for example: There goes another month or two. And brushing one’s teeth, three times a day: Surely that is another month at least of earthly existence spent on an uninteresting routine. Seeking or preparing food, though it may end in pleasure, is yet another such task. Before long, one realizes that one spends a great deal of one’s life, probably the majority, on things no more interesting than putting on one’s shoes.
In recounting a zookeeper’s memoirs published in 1944, Dalrymple acknowledges that mankind occupies a unique place in the hierarchy of Earthly beings, but admits that he still anthropomorphizes animals:
My belief, based I think on argument, that man is unique among the animals should make me proof against all forms of anthropomorphism of the Vera Hegi type, but in fact it does not. On the contrary, the moment I stop arguing that man is completely different from all other creatures, I invest practically every creature I encounter with human qualities, thoughts and emotions, down to the amoeba straggling under the microscope against a drop of acid or other substance noxious to it. I don’t go in quite for panpsychism, investing trees and stones with a mental life; I don’t hear strawberries scream in my mind’s ear as I bite into them, or hug trees, or speak to my roses, or anything like that. But insects I do think of as moral beings, there being some which are good by nature and some which are bad. I blame the nasty ones for their own nastiness.
Dalrymple reacts in Taki’s Magazine to Parisian taxi drivers who talk of returning to Africa for more freedom:
The lack of freedom in their daily existence of which the Parisian taxi drivers complained is, I think, the same lack of freedom that many other people increasingly feel in so-called free societies. And this is so whether or not the regulations and obligations that hem them in or straitjacket them make us richer or poorer, safer or less safe, healthier or less healthy. Freedom is freedom, and not another thing.
“Paris ‘inaccessible’ for the suburban young”, says Le Monde, and Dalrymple starts asking questions:
…what is the difference between appearing and being perfectly well-integrated? From this perspective, assimilation is strictly a question in the mind of the assimilated. Certainly, if you can appear perfectly well-integrated, you can be perfectly well-integrated—if you wish. The problem is with the wish not to be perfectly well-integrated, and not with the society into which you can integrate if you so choose.
An application for a Canadian travel document offers only 3 possible genders, surely an outrage to, well, somebody:
I call upon the world community – Eritrea, Qatar, North Korea – to impose sanctions on Canada, and for a worldwide boycott on Canadian products such as maple syrup and ice hockey.
This piece in Taki’s Magazine shows that dreams can reveal meaningful truths about oneself, but the introductory reference to Freud is perhaps the most interesting part:
His work has always seemed to me more like soothsaying than science, which perhaps explains its popularity in the 20th century, with its need for pagan mystics masquerading as rationalists. Neither the plausibility nor the persuasiveness of Freud’s speculations accounts for his influence on so many intelligent and well-educated people for so long; rather it was the convoluted implausibility of his speculations that attracted them. We all like to be in on a secret not comprehensible to others.
In this hilarious piece in Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple argues that self-deceptive optimism inevitably leads to bitterness, and it occurs to me that mediocrity and disillusionment are unfairly maligned.
In a pure meritocracy, everyone would find his true, utterly deserved level; but it is a mere prejudice that if there were justice in the world, everyone would be better off. In a pure meritocracy, there would be no paranoid defense against one’s own nullity—one could blame only oneself for it and no one else. That is why the concept of equality of opportunity, besides implying a kind of Brave New World world, is so deeply vicious, and why so many people who promote it are obviously hate-filled. They do not want to serve humanity but torture it.
Of course, they also know that their ideal is not reachable or even approachable. It is, short of cloning and hatcheries, barely even conceivable. Nor do they truly want their ideal to be realized, for then they would have no providential role to play and would have to sink back into the great mass of humanity, their work done. No; they criticize the world from the standpoint of an impossible ideal not to improve the world but to stir resentment, that emotional equivalent of the perpetual motion machine. The resentful are easy to manipulate and willing to confer power on those who offer to liberate them from the supposed causes of their distress. Therefore it is important to keep inequalities of opportunity firmly before men’s minds; important, and easy, too, for it is always the case that if things had been different, things would have been different. Though we are enjoined—less and less frequently, to be sure—to count our blessings, it is far easier and more gratifying to count our curses. It accords with our desire to explain, or explain away, our failure. There are whole university departments set up to train students to do nothing else.
In the Library of Law and Liberty Dalrymple reviews The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Ryszard Legutko, who, as both a professor of philosophy and a member of “the European Pseudo-Parliament”, and as an observer of both the EU and the Poland of the communist era, sounds like a writer any Dalrymple reader would want to evaluate.
Legutko’s book calls out the similarities between the EU and the totalitarian Poland of his youth, and Dalrymple’s review of it includes descriptions of the current regime that will also be recognizable by any first-hand observer of the “social justice” left:
According to Professor Legutko’s analysis, the similarities that he has observed under communism and the current liberal democratic regime are not attributable to accidents of history or to the activities of a few misguided men, but are the logical consequences of their whole world outlook. And perhaps the single most important similarity is that each of the systems is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that the systems responsible for the present will allegedly call into existence.