Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Sorry I've been off the grid due to some "vacation" related bullshit, but will fill the tank tomorrow with some fresh/hot -- including a few grafs on this moronic New Republic thing, "Liberals Are Killing Art: How the Left became obsessed with ideology over beauty," my response to which, based on years of bitter experience with actual kulturkampfers, is basically WTFingF. For the moment I will only mention that author Jed Perl cites absolutely no allegedly art-killing liberals of the present time that you've ever heard of,  and that his first references are to Robert Hughes' Culture of Complaint (1993) and Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination (1950), which basically makes me want to say, why don't you and Roger Kimball go back in time and fuck each other on a pile of old New Criterions?

Meantime, please enjoy this image courtesy of @randlechris:

This douchenozzle has a future at Galt's Gulch Square as a Ross Douthat impersonation.

UPDATE. Perl's thing is full of stuff like this:
What is certain is that in our data- and metrics-obsessed era the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground. Instead of art-as-art we have art as a comrade-in-arms to some more supposedly stable or substantial or readily comprehensible aspect of our world. Now art is always hyphenated. We have art-and-society, art-and-money, art-and-education, art-and-tourism, art-and-politics, art-and-fun.
So when, in centuries past, young rich men and ladies were sent or taken on the Grand Tour so they might poetaste of the Arts in a properly luxe setting,  it wasn't because art had already been commodified to hell in Europe and America, it was because these poor toffs had been zapped by mind-rays through a crack in the time-space continuum with the poison of our own data- and metrics-obsessed era, and turned into proto-hipsters and -feminists for the duration.
The whole question is so painful and so difficult that I have frankly hesitated to tackle it.
O better you had forborne, Percy Dovetonsils! Now you must suffer to be wedgied in effigy by the corrupt liberal artsmeisters of Obama's America.

UPDATE 2. To go on a bit more about it: Perl mentions some Alex Ross comments on Valery Gergiev and Richard Strauss (see whetstone in comments for some explication) and, instead of accepting the implicit challenge to discuss the relationship of art and politics, Perl lets us know these comments have given him the vapors ("I suppose it is the casualness with which that freestanding power can now be dismissed..."). From this and some more antique criticism Perl extrapolates all sorts of mad ideas that are allegedly shared by liberals like a secret handshake ("It is also, so I believe, a grave mistake to imagine that because art has so often been placed in the service of governments or religions that it is somehow essentially a medium through which political or social or religious beliefs are to be conveyed...").

One reason beyond the sloppy reasoning that I have so little patience for this nonsense is that there are plenty of people out there who really do believe -- and say so, out loud and in your face -- what Perl says liberals believe, that the arts are a mere tool of politics -- and they're busy doing it -- like Rick Santorum with his Christian movie studio. "Politicians didn’t change the culture," cried Santorum, "the popular culture changed America," and he aims to change it back with movies. I've turned over hundreds of examples of this sort of thing; as if that weren't enough, there are oceans of evidence that capitalism has done far more to transmogrify the arts than any other non-aesthetic impulse; yet Perl thinks it's "the liberal-spirited critic" who is to blame.

UPDATE 3 (8/10/14): In Update 2 I referred to Perl as "Lund" throughout -- not sure why. I have corrected that.


  1. Jerry Smith10:19 PM

    You put your skivvies on backwards again?

  2. some "vacation" related bullshit

    Look out, people...here comes Roy!


  3. Spaghetti Lee10:26 PM

    Oh, so we just give flowers away now? Frickin' statists.

  4. ckc (not kc)10:28 PM

    ...I got yer beauty right here....http://fredhatt.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/sfirstyearhq.jpg

  5. gocart mozart10:39 PM

    Turn it off, it's making my eyes bleed.

  6. Derelict11:14 PM

    The same people who lined up to buy a painting of Breitbart that, it turned out, wasn't even an original work (they painted ol' Humous's face onto someone else's fantasy painting)--those people are gonna whine about how liberals destroyed art?!?!?!

    Roy's got it right: What the Fucking Fuck!?!?!

  7. Jon Hendry11:16 PM

    Who deflowered John Galt?

  8. Derelict11:18 PM

    DJ--Great to see you got this going. Stupid question: Can I just sign up for, say, $100 and restrict what I get back to a copy of the documentary?

  9. GeniusLemur11:27 PM

    It would have been nice if Jed Perl had actually made an argument in that article, rather than making evidence-free statements so broad they're meaningless.

  10. GeniusLemur11:30 PM

    So someone remind me, which side is it that's building artistic groups specifically to promote their own ideology?
    (Hint: it's not the left)

  11. Ellis_Weiner11:38 PM

    I was just trolling some Randroid nitwit and he kept saying, to me and others, "You have a right to your opinion." Innat nice? I like (read: hate, but, sort of, like) the assumed superiority of clods (h/t Mad magazine) who get inflated in their self-esteem by reading Atlas S. and The F. There's a larger lesson hiding in this, perhaps: that the appeal of a cult is that it offers carte blanche ego inflation once you're in. From that height you're allowed to be magnanimous and grant others the right to disagree, however wrongheadedly. I have to restrain myself from calling my antagonist a fucking moron, and so far, I have! Yay!

  12. Ellis_Weiner11:40 PM

    Fuck you. THIS is what people want:


  13. Bow ties are cool... Bow ties are cool...

    [Looks again at photo, wipes away cold sweat with shaking hand, grits teeth]

    Bow ties are cool...

  14. BigHank5311:59 PM

    Oh, trust me: you don't want to see the photo of him with his thirty-fifth copy of The Fountainhead.

  15. 16 comments in and nobody's speculated on what Mr. Bowtie's doing with his right hand??

  16. AGoodQuestion12:02 AM

    It was only a matter of time before liberals killed art, once Spike Jones was allowed to murder the classics.

  17. Spaghetti Lee12:04 AM

    My unsolicited fashion advice is that, if you're going to risk the bow-tie, at least wear a dressier shirt. Otherwise it looks like you're someone who didn't think to buy any nice clothes after your parents stopped doing it for you, and suddenly have to throw together a job-interview-worthy outfit without warning.

    ...Not that I'd know what's that like or anything. (readjusts ascot)

  18. Spaghetti Lee12:05 AM

    Hey, we liberals may be killing art, but we're not monsters.

  19. Spaghetti Lee12:09 AM

    Ayn Rand, like grizzly bears, can smell fear. If you encounter her on a trail, the safest course of action is to wave your arms and loudly quote J.K. Galbraith's American Capitalism.

  20. AGoodQuestion12:19 AM

    Looking over Perl's article, it doesn't seem like he's using the word "liberal" in the Freeper sense of "everyone who believes Barack Obama was born in Honolulu." On the other hand, what he is talking about is kind of vague. The "rationalist mind" could describe, in theory at least, the educated minds of the last 300 years. That's a big group, and even if you limit your purview to the living, there's a wide range of reactions that people have to art.

  21. AGoodQuestion12:23 AM

    I'm sure there's a pun in there somewhere, but I'm not about to go looking for it.

  22. sharculese12:27 AM

    Who in the goddamn history of ever went to the New Republic for advice on how to make an art?

    Now, granted, I am, comparatively, a wee little babby, so if there was some point back in goddamn ever when the New Republic had something sensible to say on art, pardon me.

    But my personal history of goddamn ever does not include a point in time at which anyone with a fraction of passion would listen the New Republic on the topic of art.

  23. Captain Ambiguity12:37 AM

    My favorite part of the article was where, right after arguing that Ezra Pound's personal anti-Semitism should not factor into our judgment of his artistic talent, he comments "Of course Pound, by threading his poems with anti-Semitic comments, was refusing to make it easy for his readers."

  24. BigHank5312:39 AM

    Now, I happen to think that the concept behind the photo is genuinely adorkable: I like you SO much, favorite book! even though it raises the question of just how much we should trust someone's intellectual bona fides when they've declared themselves a fan of ham-fisted overwrought didactic book-shaped lumps of words as fashioned by Ms. Rand. But that's a topic for another day...

    No, right now I am going to unload on that photo. I like the idea. The execution, however, is shit from one end to the other.

    Backgound: it's generally considered a poor idea to place your subject in front of a window. Unless you want to make the rest of your background look dingy, throw off the visual balance of the image, and place unpleasant highlights on your subject.

    Clothes: they shouldn't distract our attention from the subject. A dark red tie (better yet: rust or gray) would work. This one looks like it was stolen off a Christmas wreath, and distracts attention from the subject's face. Speaking of which...

    Grooming: Ryan Reynolds can do stubble. Sasha Grey's crotch can do stubble. You aren't either one, Jed.

    Focal length: Jesus H. Fucking Christ, would it kill you to actually learn something about photography? Portraits need to be shot with long lenses from far away, so that the image looks halfway normal. This waste of pixels was shot from about two feet away using the widest angle possible with some crappy point-and-shoot, probably plopped on top of a stack of books. His head is distorted and misshapen. Look at those fucking Frankenstein shoulders: his left shoulder is bigger than his head! I can't tell you if he is anywhere near this freaky-looking in real life, but if he keeps circulating images like this...

    Ansel Adams famously observed that there's nothing worse than a clear picture of a fuzzy concept, but I think there is: a perfectly good idea wasted by someone who doesn't give a shit.

  25. BigHank5312:41 AM

    Indiegogo will let you tweak your perks down to any level below the one you buy in at. There's a "change perk" button right after you selelct your funding level.

  26. Wrangler1:01 AM

    New Republic, huh. So am I to infer that someone other than Jed Perl thought this force fed argument was worth sharing with the rest of the class?

    Perls before swine indeed.

  27. whetstone1:02 AM

    That New Republic jazz is kind of amazing. Read from "I suppose it is" to the end of that section--the last chance Perl gets to lay out his thesis before defending it--and marvel at how much back-pedaling is done.

    Basically this is the question Perl is trying to answer: "But could one not point out that the exquisite closing scene of Strauss’s Capriccio,
    which had its premier in Munich in 1942, in the very thick of Hitler’s
    power, can be embraced as a masterpiece that has nothing whatsoever to
    do with anything that was going on at the time? Is anybody who says that
    in the grip of an old illusion?"

    I think the answer is not terribly hard and it's "you can actually do both; mostly just don't be a Zhdanovite or a dipshit."

    Which the inspiration for Lund's ire, Alex Ross (who's great) miraculously manages to do--to deal with his subject (the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev) as an artist for most of the performance he's reviewing, while getting creeped out when Gergiev (who's down with Putin) bangs away at Shostakovich.

    It's notable that Ross doesn't bring politics into his review of the performance itself until he gets to the Shostakovich piece, because Shostakovich's work is really political.

    Lund makes what seem like perfectly reasonable arguments about not forcing politics onto art in weird ways, like defending Symbolism (as a poetic form) from an association with anti-Semitism--there are things higher on my list to rescue from spurious charges of anti-Semitism than that, but sounds fine to me.

    The counterargument would be "don't take politics out of art when it's also weird to do so." Or: "quit being so prescriptivist, dick."

  28. BigHank531:06 AM

    Now, the sentence that popped out at me (and boy howdy, was there a selction) was this one:

    Anti-Semitism is a lie about the real world that is propounded in the real world—with real consequences.

    I can't even fucking begin to untangle the logical errors in here. A lie is a deliberate falsehood. I've only met a couple of 'em, but I'm pretty much 100% fucking sure that anti-semites really do hate Jews; they're not just having us on. They're wrong, but that's another category of error entirely.

    Lies propounded in imaginary worlds are...well, if the whole world is fictional, it's all just different flavors of lie, isn't it? And obviously, it's only lies told in the real world to real people that have any consequences whatsoever, right? Isn't that sort of how you figure out someone is lying--by comparing their statements with the real world?

    The whole fuckin' thing is full of this shit: overwritten pretentious handwringing combined with mock-philosophical restatements of the bleeding obvious. If this larval zhandovite can figure out how to squeeze 3000 words of this drivel out on a weekly basis he's got a shiny, shiny wingnut future in front of him.

  29. Pope Zebbidie XIII1:15 AM

    Oh no, the eagle got zapped.

  30. Pope Zebbidie XIII1:17 AM

    I actually read Culture of Complaint when it came out. It spent half the book bitching about the leftoid PC and then the other half bitching about the right-wing version. I have never seen since, any right-winger who is aware that Hughes got them bang to rights back in 1993.

  31. Pope Zebbidie XIII1:21 AM

    Is that a dog strapped to that roof-rack?

  32. Megalon1:22 AM

    Are you SURE that picture's not meant to be a joke? I mean the dorky shirt, the loud bow tie, the suggestion that he's literally in love with a copy of Atlas Shrugged. It's just so perfect It's GOTTA be a joke... right?

  33. Odder1:34 AM

    I get your drift, but a Queeg-esque rolling and clicking together of steel ball bearings seems more likely in that particular shot.

  34. sigyn2:05 AM

    I was so traumatized by that movie. Just horrifying. I don't know why they didn't have Flower gnaw off one of his own legs to escape a trap, too.

  35. smut clyde3:01 AM

    Ayn Rand's diktats on the rules artists must observe to create true Aryan didactic art are a thing in themselves.

  36. smut clyde3:04 AM

    That's a bow-tie? I thought perhaps he put his cummerbund on too high.

  37. smut clyde3:11 AM

    You may hide behind euphemisms like "steel ball bearings", I prefer to come out and call them "neuticles".

    I believe in calling a spayed a spayed.

  38. davdoodles3:17 AM

    There has not been a more trenchant criticism of the arts
    since Perfesser No Hysteric © thunder-sharted that there is no place for politics in science fiction!


  39. ColBatGuano3:28 AM

    Yeah, three random examples of modern criticism and then Ezra Pound don't exactly make a compelling argument.

  40. smut clyde3:52 AM

    Call me old-fashioned but I do not like landscapes with more than three light sources. Also rainbows should be circular rather than some sort of parabolic ballistic-missile trajectory; Mr Pynchon is NOT A RELIABLE SOURCE.

  41. Glock H. Palin, Esq.5:00 AM

    Radical centrists?

  42. Glock H. Palin, Esq.5:04 AM

    If you make an argument, there's always the possibility that you might have to own it. If you just gas on for ad nauseam + 7 paragraphs nobody is ever going to nail that jello to the wall.

  43. Glock H. Palin, Esq.5:09 AM

    Do you think flowers grow on trees?

  44. Glock H. Palin, Esq.5:11 AM

    I'm impressed that they managed to make a black light poster that doesn't require an actual black light to fluoresce.

  45. The best part of that picture is he obviously plucked the flower (petunia? mandevilla?) from someone's yard, or perhaps in the true spirit of slashing tentacles of government overreach: A flowerbed maintained by the city.

    But here's a thing. I am currently trying not to give up on a not-very-engaging book in which the author does go on about the barbarian hordes that ruined the dear old Holy Roman Empire. By the 11,000th use of the word Barbarian I had a thought: If they were so barbaric and icky and all, how did they deliver such a thorough whuppin? And why did they have their own laws and scribes and ... the sort of things civilized folk have?

    And so naturally reading this, I have the same question. Let's take it as a given that liberals a) Suck at art. b) Any decent citizen hates liberals and all of their works. c) Prior to ... 1800, art was not liberal.

    Why have liberals - based on the wails of conservatives - whupped conservative ass? According to the Wah Brigade, The LEFT has taken over Hollywood and TV and the Media and Books and Art and for all I know dance and theater. (Even though we're stupid, don't go to church and are exhausted from all of the drugs and the sex and non-stop abortions and what not.) So while it is nice of them to cede defeat, you'd think they'd ask themselves how conservatives, who apparently have the entire weight of history and opinion and civilization and God behind them, utterly lost it so fast.

    Maybe this is ultimately why the HRE fell. It was overloaded with greedy conservative shitheels who sat around and whined about the kids today and the slaves talking back and the nasty Visgoths at the gate.

  46. It is, as the song goes, ALWAYS projection.

    We puzzle over conservatoids stumbling around in a bewildered rage, but I get the feeling that it's because they're actually living in one-way mirror bubbles. While we can see them perfectly fine, they can only see a distorted fun-house reflection of themselves everywhere they look. It must be horrifying, and you can imagine how they must feel about the ugliness that follows them relentlessly. Maybe it's a parasite on their optic nerves?

  47. hellslittlestangel7:10 AM

    I don't think a flower would have moved Ayn Rand. People say she was a coprophiliac.

  48. Jaime Oria7:10 AM

    A screaming comes across my eyes....

  49. Jaime Oria7:19 AM

    I call shenanigans on the book itself - it seems awfully slim for AS, unless it's been set in .000000000075 point type.

  50. Derelict7:24 AM

    This is a really cutting comment, but it's on the ball.

  51. I think it's utter bollocks.

  52. Maybe he thought it was The Maidenhead?

  53. redoubtagain7:55 AM

    "le roi est mort, vive le roi"

  54. Derelict7:57 AM

    Read the half they like, ignore the other half because it didn't fit their worldview. That's a conservative take on literature--lust like they do with the Bible.

  55. Derelict8:01 AM

    It's those Rationalists that are responsible for so much that's wrong with the world. Like pointing out that, after 35 years of being carefully implemented in the real world, trickle-down economics is failure by any substantive measure. Or that torturing people is, well, torturing people. Or that racism is racism.

    If we just stopped being rational, just think of all the wonderful things we could have!

  56. smut clyde8:15 AM

    Now art is always hyphenated. We have art-and-society, art-and-money,
    art-and-education, art-and-tourism, art-and-politics, art-and-fun.

    Google Ngram sez otherwise, but Google Ngram is such a lying jade.

  57. FlipYrWhig8:25 AM

    Ah, ain't like there's a vas deferens between the two.

  58. "can't find a date to the prom? bring ayn rand, she's a girl, dummy!"

  59. Matt Jones8:54 AM

    "What is certain is that in our data- and metrics-obsessed era the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground."

    Funny, the data- and metric-obsession comes from one place: the need for the Almighty Dollar. Why does Jed Perl hate capitalism? ;)

  60. Helmut Monotreme9:00 AM

    Bow ties are not cool. Everyone you can think of who is cool that wears a bow tie, is cool in spite of the bow tie not because of it. If bow ties were cool, George F Will would write a tedious outraged diatribe anytime he was in the same room with one. If bow ties were cool, Tucker Carlson would be shoved into a locker by his.

  61. glennisw9:12 AM

    I'm happy just seeing the Percy Dovetonsils reference.

  62. glennisw9:18 AM

    Wait, what? I'm a barbarian, so what do I know about art? But are we supposed to take seriously a rant about art in 2014 that focuses on Richard Strauss, some Soviet-era conductor, and Ezra Pound?

  63. R. McGeddon, dismayed9:30 AM

    As we all know, Ayn Rand is a great artist and Kurt Vonnegut is an ideological hack.

  64. Scientists9:38 AM

    I love Robert Hughes

    (Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.)

  65. Helmut Monotreme9:43 AM

    Liberals are killing art? How does that work? Liberals consistently keep wages down and the cost of education up? Liberals keep cutting spending on the national endowment for the arts? Liberals keep squeezing the economy until everyone needs two jobs to keep from going bankrupt? Liberals do their level best to make sure no one but plutocrats and their pet lackeys ever have spare time or money to create or appreciate art?

  66. Halloween_Jack9:48 AM

    Let's take a moment to review Poe's law.

  67. Halloween_Jack9:49 AM

    Next up: "Hitler: An Objective Artistic Critique."

  68. Halloween_Jack9:51 AM

    I want to send this comment a picture of myself in bed, soft focus, draped in a satin sheet that's been coyly nudged off one shoulder. Or maybe I'll just go with the covered-in-baby-oil-and-wearing-a-leather-harness approach... decisions, decisions.

  69. mgmonklewis9:55 AM

    Also, why is he wearing David Byrne's enormous suit from Stop Making Sense?

  70. Halloween_Jack9:55 AM

    Sad, but absolutely not surprising that Rand has Hello M'Ladies.

  71. Halloween_Jack9:56 AM

    And while we're on the subject, where is that large automobile?

  72. mgmonklewis9:57 AM

    This is not my beautiful bowtie!

  73. mgmonklewis10:07 AM

    overwritten pretentious handwringing combined with mock-philosophical restatements of the bleeding obvious

    It's like my memory of grad school: Pretentious jerks explicating the obvious and pontificating upon the obscure.

  74. mgmonklewis10:14 AM

    Annoying request for clarification: Holy Roman Empire, or the Roman Empire?

    (Now I can't resist quoting Coffee Talk's Linda Richman: "The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire. Discuss.")

  75. Derelict10:14 AM

    It is also, so I believe, a grave mistake to imagine that because art has so often been placed in the service of governments or religions that it is somehow essentially a medium through which political or social or religious beliefs are to be conveyed..."

    Yeah, that Sistine Chapel ceiling is just ruined because of its religious content. As are the friezes on the Parthenon. Is there nothing that modern liberals have not traveled back in time to despoil?

  76. Derelict10:16 AM

    Like this?

  77. mgmonklewis10:19 AM

    Or listen to EvenTheLiberal New Republic about much of anything, unless you're a Neo-Liberal with beefcake posters of Jon Chait and Tom Friedman on your bedroom walls.

  78. tigrismus10:33 AM

    Art-supplies, art-studio, art-ist...

  79. Ellis_Weiner10:34 AM

    UPDATE UPDATE: Roy, you write "Lund mentions some Alex Ross comments..." You've confused Jeb Lund with Jed Perle. Which is weird, since Lund would never write such hand-wringing nonsense.

    Meanwhile, Perl isn't writing about "art" at all. He's writing about art criticism. All the examples (of which there are pitifully few) he uses to illustrate his point are comments from critics, not counting a few quotes from Picasso and Gertrude Stein. He ignores the real challenge to art and artists today, which isn't politics or "the liberal imagination," but money, which corrupts everything, rules the marketplace and the academy and everywhere else an artist might try to support herself, and transforms the activity of being an artist into a hobby.

  80. mgmonklewis10:40 AM

    If you're African-American and are making an old-school fashion statement, then they can be cool. Or at least retro, and paying homage to history. Otherwise, yeah. It's like trying to channel Illinois Senator Paul Simon as an icon of coolness.

  81. mgmonklewis10:47 AM

    I know, right? I've never seen or heard those odd hyphenated phrases he claims are swamping us and killing art.

  82. To quote an Army commander, "Nuts!".

  83. dstatton10:55 AM

    It seems to be based entirely on an aside by Alex Ross, who is a far better writer anyway. It must be hard to write about the arts; good examples are so rare.

  84. mortimer200010:58 AM

    In case you missed it, bspencer at LGM took on How We’ve Been Robbed of Beauty by the Left by John C. Wright, an even loonier guy, who's much funnier than Perl because crazy (he made an appearance on alicublog a few months ago).

    And thanks for the reminder of Percy Dovetonsils. Ah Ernie, we hardly knew ye.

  85. And Strauss is bad example anyway. Strauss was a total egoist and opportunist: As he long as Strauss and his art weren't impacted, he didn't gave a damn. But it worked: Nobody ever cared after war and Strauss was as respected as ever.

  86. susanoftexas11:11 AM

    No wonder nobody believed the Doctor. Look what he is up against--conservative who wear a bow tie to distinguish their wankage from everyone else's wankage.

  87. susanoftexas11:13 AM

    First it's the maidenhead. Then comes Atlas Shrugged. Then the fountainhead.

  88. billcinsd11:16 AM

    and the book is not his beautiful wife

  89. skippy11:25 AM

    don't be so testes

  90. BG, watery tart11:31 AM

    what Lund says liberals believe, that the arts are a mere tool of politics

    Compared to Hitler and Stalin, of course, who believed in full artistic expression regardless of message.

    Oh wait, no they didn't.

    Bu I suppose Lund would be happy if the world was decorated solely with Keane paintings. Because "Guernica" added nothing to the human experience.

  91. Jaime Oria11:37 AM

    All I know is - that NEW REPUBLIC article is carrying somebody's water.

  92. stepped_pyramids11:42 AM

    The third time he said something like "this problem is by no means a new one" and cited a 60-year-old resource I started to worry that I had gotten stuck in a time loop, like Frasier in that Star Trek episode.

  93. Jimcima11:48 AM

    Sez you librul.

    To suggest the moment of
    Bambi's empowerment, I positioned him on a rocky
    precipice overlooking the terrain of his kingdom
    and the four seasons of his first year. If you
    look closely, Bambi's self-sacrificing mother can
    be seen, as a half hidden image upon the distant
    mountain. Truly, a mother's love, like the spirit
    of the mighty mountains, will guide a son forever.
    The central theme of Bambi is the cycle of the
    seasons and the ongoing flow of life. Truly,
    water flows through the world like life itself - a
    timeless reminder that despite the passing
    seasons, nature thrives and a new generation is born.

    I believe Bambi's First
    Year is the most breathtaking subject in my
    Disney Dreams Collection to date. I hope as you
    look at Bambi cresting the ridge of his domain,
    you too will feel empowered to live your best life
    and to count on a season of new beginnings, even
    when the challenges of life confront you. Truly
    for Bambi, and for us, life goes on.

    -Thomas Kinkade

    You should draft an apology to the artist's estate immediately.

  94. N.R. seems to be trying to use the Politico's click-trolling business model.

  95. Scott Lemieux11:55 AM

    This more pretentious (!) and more generalized version of the essay Roger Kimball has written eleventy-trillion times spares us even the minor pleasure of a Piss Christ reference. For shame.

  96. fraser11:59 AM

    Well if even the liberal New Republic says it, it must be true.

  97. PersonaAuGratin12:00 PM

    That lightening is going to start a forest fire.

  98. lust like they do with the Bible

    I thought about correcting the typo, but hell, it reads much better this way...

  99. Megalon12:05 PM

    If it were ANY other work of fiction I'd know it was a joke, but with Rand fans? They're so humorless and pompous I can actually see them doing something like this un-ironically. I still hold out hope that it is a joke though because... good God, man!

  100. fraser12:07 PM

    I thought of the Wright piece too. He at least explains everything: liberals hate beauty because they don't want to admit white Europeans make the best art and because beauty gives people the strength to fight back against liberal tyranny!!!

  101. Anybody seen reading one of Ayn Rand's works can be safely presumed to know fuck-all about art. Jesus tits, don't get me started on the Fountainhead.

    And let's not even mention that someone who regards Ayn Rand with as much joy as Perl apparently does is not allowed to bang on about propaganda having a malevolent effect on art, because holy shit, have you read Ayn Rand?

  102. Lots of plankton fluoresce. Its not that great a talent for scum.

  103. Refusing to make it easy for his readers? Thats such an interesting way of putting it.

  104. I think this is almost literally "Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism but at least its an ethos."

  105. brandonrg12:22 PM

    but have your bear spray ready, just in case.

  106. susanoftexas12:24 PM

    I don't think that the few conservatives who were able to get through Perl's article would agree that liberals are rational and logical, and therefore their art is as well. They tend to believe liberals are childishly emotional, stupid, and mean.
    And now we have conservative billionaires funding conservative movies, we know how the "real" people make art: they tell stories that reinforce conservatives values, such as the superiority of Christianity over any other way of life, the inferiority of women, the dangers of communism/socialism/egalitarianism, and so on.

  107. Blue. I mean red - Aaaaaah!

  108. Derelict12:27 PM

    You'd think I'd have noticed that! OTOH, I've seen too many Bibles owned by conservatives where all the good passages in Sodom and Gomorrah are underlined and the pages stuck together.

  109. Derelict12:28 PM

    We've lost more good knights this way . . .

  110. Jay B.12:28 PM

    What is certain is that in our data- and metrics-obsessed era the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground. Instead of art-as-art we have art as a comrade-in-arms to some more supposedly stable or substantial or readily comprehensible aspect of our world.

    Shut up. I mean I could go on, that this is shitty, God-awful writing. That the ideas in here, such as they are, have most likely been discussed since Thag noticed a drop in the number of bulls near Lascaux. But really, what the word needs now is another thumbsucker on art like I need a hole in my head.

  111. bulletsarepeopletoo.12:29 PM

    So, basically every time these assholes complain about how something is the fault of liberals they're just complaining about the "free market" working the way it should. Because you know everything is about where people can make the most money and that's what's in demand whether it's art, books, movies, food, etc. These jerkwads keep whining because they can't break into the mainstream and they're too entitled & self-centered to realize it's because they're just mean, horrible people; which manifests itself in everything they do or say.

  112. Jay B.12:32 PM

    For a long time, The New Republic was a much better magazine for the arts than anything else.

  113. Speaking as a nanny-state-loving liberal, there should be a safety railing around that precipice.

  114. What about a new Frank Sinatra?

  115. Jay B.12:42 PM

    We still gotta get 'em in bed, right?

  116. Jay B.12:56 PM

    Yeah, I have zero problem with an art critic and cultural historian ripping into the timidity of PC culture in the early 90's. Hughes is a good writer and thinker, so I trust he made a plausible case. I've never read Culture of Complaint, but there's an obvious case to be made about the way some lefties approach "art" as either a threat or a didactic mouthpiece. Some political art, for that matter, is excellent. Anyway, it's neither here nor there. And it came out 21 years ago.

  117. mean, horrible

    And untalented.

  118. " Now you must suffer to be wedgied in effigy by the corrupt liberal artsmeisters of Obama's America."

    I read so I may learn.

  119. Derelict1:15 PM

    When liberals rant, we point to statements in today's news made by prominent Republicans or Libertarians.

    Alas, poor conservative ranters! Unable to find any actual living liberals who match the caricatures in their heads, the conservatives are forced to reach back--waaaaaaaaay back--into history. (And proving Einstein's circularity theory, run smack into themselves by creating ideologically-driven art while whining about ideologically-driven art.)

  120. S-Curve1:17 PM

    Not being able to remove the red pen from my brain, I note: "the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground." The ground is losing ground. Must be from the fracking?

  121. Rugosa1:18 PM

    What is astounding is the complete misunderstanding of what popular culture is. Hint to Santorum: popular culture is popular because lots of people like it. We have nudity and explosions in movies because that's what sells. We have non-white and non-heterosexual protagonists because there are non-white and non-het people in the world, and we even know some of them and are interested in their stories. Hell, some of us are them! It is impossible for any one force, political or religious, to force a popular culture on a country as big and diverse as America. Now, we each live in our own little enclaves, from which we can tut-tut other people's cultural activities, but a look outside the window shows any thinking person that chacun a son gout is as true as it ever was.

  122. He wrote the Metamorphosen in the closing months of the war, and apparently it's still not clear what the subtitle is specifically referring to.

  123. witlesschum1:28 PM

    Melisandra, you bitch!

  124. Why the big suit? To make his head look really really small.

  125. PulletSurprise1:34 PM

    Audio book, perhaps?

  126. And where does that highway go to?

  127. Le Chifforobe1:36 PM

    Is the book Empires and Barbarians by Peter Heather? 'Cause I gave up.

  128. It's not the liberal-spirited critics who ruined art. Bob Ross, with his egalitarian outlook, white boy 'fro, stoned/blissed-out demeanor, and pantheistic outlook (happy little trees?!) forever tainted art with liberalism.

    Bob Ross was doing the devil's work.

  129. If you like kitchy, American paintings, may I recommend Bierstadt:


    This is "In the Sierras". He was a 19th Century version of Kinkade.

  130. His beautiful wife has taken it and she's driving it out the LA to hook up with a surfer dude from Inherent Vice, or at least that's my take on the thing.

  131. She'd prefer to see it immolated in the service of industry.

  132. Jay B.1:50 PM

    "At the gesture, Atlas Shrugged"

  133. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person1:58 PM

    Alternate title: "Clown in Mufti"...

  134. mgmonklewis1:59 PM

    You take that back! I kinda like Bierstadt. He was painting nature in the Romantic tradition. Kincade, Painter of Crap, on the other hand paints... well, crap.

  135. I second that emotion. Some people think "photography" means picking up a camera (or, these days, a fucking phone), pointing it at the subject and firing away. Fuck those people. Personally, I recommend a naked selfie in the mirror. It always works for me.

  136. mgmonklewis2:01 PM

    "And over here we'll paint some Happy Thieves, stealing the jewels from the idol. And another group of Happy Thieves over here..." [dabs at canvas]

  137. And watercolors!

  138. Gonna paint some happy little eldritch abominations...

  139. mgmonklewis2:11 PM

    So many bonus points for using both "eldritch" and "abomination" in the same comment. Iggwilv and Zagyg both applaud.

  140. satch2:12 PM

    Rick Perlstein's book "Nixonland" explains things pretty concisely. Metaphorically speaking, Nixon was the quintessential grubby, sweaty striver always struggling to fit in, to be cool, and never making it. The liberal Kennedy was, by contrast, effortlessly cool. Conservatives are Nixon guys, perennially feeling looked down on, left out, fucked over. Liberals, personified by Kennedy and now Obama are the cool kids gliding through life. The thing that worries me is that there are FAR more of the former... people endlessly attempting to explain their failures and shortfalls as the result of things that were done TO them, obstacles thrown in their paths, or not having the "cool" connections that the Liberal Intelligentsia"(tm) seem to have. How do they feel about "the ugliness that follows them relentlessly"? If they see it at all, they don't believe ANY of it is their fault, and if only they could construct a world, an art form, a frame of reference that would allow them to shine, why they'd show those preppy, connected Liberal pansies a thing or two, you betcha.

  141. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:17 PM

    grad school, grade school, what's the difference...

  142. realinterrobang2:19 PM

    Apparently the 19th C. version actually had some technical chops.

  143. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:20 PM

    Who says he's giving it? Anyway, I think he's just showing off his new squirty

    Boutonniere. Came with the tie, probably...

  144. Brian Schlosser2:21 PM

    "You know what the penalty for animal cruelty is in this state? Well, it's probably pretty stiff"

  145. realinterrobang2:24 PM

    Bill Nye?

  146. Brian Schlosser2:24 PM

    Why can't more art be apolitical, like this?

  147. Brian Schlosser2:25 PM

    Why can't more fine art be apolitical, like this?

  148. satch2:25 PM

    Upvoted solely because you were able to work Sasha Grey's crotch into the post.

  149. StringOnAStick2:26 PM

    Well, they are trying to enforce just that, and are convinced they just haven't reached critical mass yet. Hate radio/media isn't quite at Radio Rwanda levels. Yet.

  150. If you're going to write purple, write Lovecraftian purple, at least Gygaxian purple.

  151. realinterrobang2:30 PM

    You always hurt the one you love...

  152. satch2:39 PM

    Smut: What I always found hilarious about La Rand's work was not so much that it was ponderous and pretentious, it was that, to make SURE that readers got the point of her work, she founded a freaking INSTITUTE to ensure that her works were read with the proper level of serious adoration she felt she was entitled to. Can anyone imagine Samuel Clemens founding "The Mark Twain Institute For The Deconstruction And Promulgation Of Humorous Social Commentary"?

  153. Jay B.2:39 PM


  154. tigrismus2:42 PM

    Hence your avatar? I only ask because usually people stop with the clothing removal.

  155. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:42 PM

    Conservatism* can't fail, it can only be failed from within. Obviously, then, Conservatism cannot ever actually lose to Liberalism. Equally obviously, though, Conservatives have no real lives outside of their hatred of Liberals, so the struggle must continue forever, and Conservatism is thus in a perpetual state of defeat. Or it could be that they just reflexively hurl every insult they can spell correctly (which gives us an Obama who is a laughably incompetent neckbooting dominator) because they're idiots whose clan-awareness operates at 101%, but whose self-aweareness never made it past the blastula stage.

    * I originally typo'd that as "Conservativism", which is probably a better name for 'em...

  156. PersonaAuGratin2:43 PM

    Why is Madison trying to catch Obama's poop?

  157. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:44 PM

    Where's that tongue-imnpersonating fish louse when you need him...

  158. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:46 PM

    Except Journeyman Jellonailers like Our Congenial Host...

  159. Brian Schlosser2:48 PM

    Madison is saying "The fuck, man! Look at this shit!"

    BUT DO NOT DESPAIR, because that poor Constitution is going to be saved from the evil black President by the most powerful force in history: a white guy with a wad of cash!

  160. Jay B.2:51 PM

    Madison is all like "Oh COME ON, I just had that thing dry cleaned and you are just grinding it into the dirt! THANKS, MOOR."

  161. Brian Schlosser2:51 PM

    So it won't further sully the constitution

  162. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person2:53 PM

    Looks like Bill Alexander got into the mushrooms again...

  163. Brian Schlosser2:54 PM

    That one is absolutely my favorite piece of 1. Piss taking parody 2. Photoshop jujitsu and 3. Truly excellent Lovecraft fan art. It's been my wallpaper on many, many screens.

  164. willf2:54 PM

    "Upvoted solely because you were able to work Sasha Grey's crotch into the post."


  165. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person3:01 PM

    Was he perhaps trying for a bit of very, very dry--OK, dessicated--humor? Nah, prolly not.

  166. Bill Nye IS cool.

    Perhaps the bow tie was invented specifically so that he could wear one.

  167. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person3:04 PM

    By Patrick Buchanan, due out from Regnery in late fall, 2014, in time for the (Heritage Association) Xmas (mass) buying season...

  168. Wow, that sounds so ... unenviable.

    Maybe ignorance ISN'T bliss after all.

  169. susanoftexas3:06 PM

    The Christian movies sometimes do well but it takes a big get-out-the-congregation movement to do it. The Narnia movies were mildly entertaining but long morality plays are not nearly as popular as movies with wit, fun, imagination and surprises.
    If you want to kill a fun movie, make sure that authority is always respected and obeyed, give the girls nothing to do except stand around and cry, eliminate ambiguity, and make sure modern children cannot relate to the main characters.

  170. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person3:11 PM

    Ansel Adams famously observed that there's nothing worse than a clear picture of a fuzzy concept

    Yes! They should have had Kerry Conran make Atlas Shrugged...

  171. NonyNony3:16 PM

    popular culture is popular because lots of people like it.

    Pop culture in a capitalist system like ours in this day and age is the ultimate form of free market. Nearly utterly pure. It's like mainlining the free market right into your veins.

    And they hate it. Because in the free market their ideas of what is good are unpopular and people won't buy them.

  172. I just got finished reading Jed Perl's article, as tedious as that task is.

    Here's what I've got to say about it: art is bigger than Jed Perl thinks it is.

  173. RogerAiles3:26 PM

    What is certain is that in our data- and metrics-obsessed era the imaginative ground without which art cannot exist is losing ground.

    The ground is losing ground!

    We have art-and-society, art-and-money, art-and-education, art-and-tourism, art-and-politics, art-and-fun.

    Not to mention art-sy-and-fart-sy.

  174. John Casey3:26 PM

    an 'e'.

    Brought to you by Pedants 'r' Us

  175. That Jesus guy, always doing what he is told, complete respect for authority. The ultimate conservative. No wonder his story is so compelling...

  176. Kinkade can only WISH he could paint like Bierstadt (or Frederic Church, for that matter.)

  177. Also too:


    Just because.

  178. mgmonklewis3:47 PM

    The exception who proves the rule.

  179. eastcoastlib3:48 PM

    There's still great art being made (along with a lot of not very good art). Not all of it has an agenda. Some of it does but no matter where one falls on the political spectrum, the music of someone like Lorde or Christo's The Gates project in Central park from a few years back, can be appreciated independent of what one thinks of the artist themselves.

    Lorde's music and lyrics speak to our class divisions but in a way that doesn't chastise or judge those above or below some arbitrary point on a scale. She's one of many current musical artists who's work I admire.

    Here's a link to the Gates project from a few years ago. It doesn't really do it justice. I walked through it on a crisp winter day over ten years ago. The park had never been more beautiful before or since.


  180. eastcoastlib3:52 PM

    Having attended both, I can say without equivocation, what I learned in grade school has proved far more relevant

  181. "Er . . . you've lost weight! How nice."

  182. hellslittlestangel3:54 PM

    From the OED:

    "– ORIGIN ME: from OFr. barbarien, from barbare, or from L. barbarus, from Gk barbaros ‘foreign’."

    So it really just means foreigners. But please keep that on the down-low. I don't relish hearing right-whingers going on about illegal barbarian children invading America.

  183. eastcoastlib3:56 PM

    For the sh*ts and giggles


  184. Cato the Censor3:58 PM

    The guy in the picture should be beaten with red-tipped staves, stuffed in a leather sack with a monkey, a dog, a rooster, a poisonous snake, and a copy of Atlas Shrugged, and thrown into the Potomac.

  185. eastcoastlib3:59 PM

    I honestly think that's it. Their governing philosophy seems to be Government should exist to give them things and punish people they don't particularly like. One day it's minorities, the next it's gay people, the next it's women. Governing isn't about solving problems or improving the lives of us all, it's about retribution.

  186. smut clyde4:11 PM

    The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire.John Cleese called his parrot "The Holy Roman Empire", for that self-same reason.

  187. tigrismus4:15 PM

    His work is like balsa: lightweight, but still wooden.

  188. smut clyde4:16 PM

    He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!

  189. Heron4:23 PM

    Jeez, did he just argue that the empirical mindset ought to be abandoned in favor for the magical thinking pushed by the Right because it will make us more imaginative???

  190. smut clyde4:23 PM

    The Ayn Rand Institute For Kids Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

  191. Meanie-meanie, tickle a person4:25 PM

    Compared to Hitler and Stalin, of course, who believed in full artistic expression

    For the airbrush artist...

  192. ColBatGuano4:29 PM

    Damn, I miss those guys.

  193. And sabotage has it its roots in the words for wooden shoes and the noise they make. But if I said I'm going to sabotage your plans to go on vacation, you wouldn't think I was going to clomp around in my Danskos.

  194. Scott Lemieux4:33 PM

    Man, I could go for a Maudite right now.

  195. Halloween_Jack4:52 PM


  196. RogerAiles5:05 PM

    The Knight of Pushing Up Flowers.

  197. susanoftexas5:07 PM

    Sir Daisy.