Friday, March 31, 2006

WHAT, ME WEIMAR? Today at NRO Elizabeth Fisher makes culture war on... Dadaism. You might have thought that this antique movement, whether or not you find any potency left in it, was all just good fun and sometimes good art. Wachet auf! For Fisher, Western Civ's wounds bleed afresh every time you enjoy a Max Ernst collage. Behold Dada's dark agenda:
What Dadaism represents is the origins of 21st-century moral relativism.

If a work can be called “art” simply because its author claims it to be such, then there is no such thing as art. If anything can be art, then nothing is. And this principle has a broader application: If anything can be true (or moral, good, right, etc.), then nothing is. Rather than a servant to society, the artist has become a spoiled child, creating arbitrary distinctions that only he can decipher. Dadaists, the original brats, considered their audience only as a group to be shocked or irritated. Dadaists do not deserve to be called artists; at best, they are propagandists, but more accurately, exhibitionists.
Nothing quite matches the hilarity of one of NRO's professional anaesthetes calling anyone else "propagandists," but that Duchamp's urinal is the wellspring of her rage is also very rich.

We've well noted here the tendency of the Right's vulgarians to reduce art to propaganda for whatever crack-brained school of conservative bullshit they favor. On the low end we have of course the South Park Republicans, who think farting loudly is an identification of political affinity. Fisher seems to be of a more high-minded sort -- that is, instead of Cletus in a beret, we have Brandine in a Roman toga, shouting "Van-eetus, Cletus!" and blaming renegade art, and enjoyment thereof, for our great Slouch Toward Gomorrah.

Don't wear yourself out too much laughing. When they start talking like this, you know what the next step is.

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