How the arts have moved to the left

Many readers were surprised to learn of the death of Joan Dideon, a new journalist who had never completely abandoned Goldwater-endorsing, equal to excellence. National Review Contributing to the conservatism of his youth despite harsh criticism of Reaganism.

After all, isn’t there a relationship between the innovative, the innovative, the groundbreaking, the creative and the non-innovative-guard and the political left?

Today, the liberal left dominates the arts and other cultural institutions: publishing, journalism, media, and of course, academia. But it was not always so.

Here, I’m not talking about Dickens and later George Elliott’s Tory radicalism or the conservatism of the polite tradition or the classical traditionalism of Henry James and Edith Wharton.

Rather, I am thinking of conservative modernists. Many fundamentalist modernists in literature and art have embraced the values ​​we see today as “the range from offensive to offensive.”

It’s not just Ezra Pound or TS Elliott, but also fugitives from the South (including John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Meryl Moore, Laura Riding and Robert Penn Warren) and Max Eastman, the former editor. PublicAnd John dos Pasos, who gravitated to the right for years.

Then there were the Cold War modernists. As Victoria Phillips demonstrates in her beautiful writings, the ability to analytically study modernism in dance, Martha Graham’s Cold War, The U.S. government has promoted modern dance as Western Cold War propaganda, symbolizing the values ​​of democracy, freedom, and individualism. Jazz and abstract expressionism were also used as weapons by the government to “attract European intellectuals” in the Cold War, with figures including Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock abandoning or reducing the more radical views of their early years.

To be sure, many modernists were in the political left, especially the Greenwich Village Radicals, as Christine Stansell described in her Bohemian New York study. American modern. Then there were others like Virginia Woolf, who occupied an uncomfortable middle ground, revolutionary in style, extremist in some respects, but conservative or conservative in others.

How can it be that the creators of so many transgressive works of art or literature, which have banned, overturned customs, and challenged all kinds of boundaries and customs, can lean to the right?

A recent essay Commonwealth Literary critic and theorist Terry Eagleton offers a key to unraveling this mystery. Conservative and more radical modernists adopted an anti-capitalist policy that could lean to the left or right.

A nominal reef on the life and work of TS Elliott, the Eagleton essay examines the nature of conservative modernity. This proves that far from being a non-securitist, conservative modernity represents a strong and enduring present in modernity and even post-modernism. Conservative modernists like Elliott:

  • Protested against commercialism, the philosophical middle class and the “dictatorship of money” and condemned godless materialism, selfish individualism, dry rationalism, capitalist greed, the culture of utility, the rise of loneliness and arrogance. Machines, and the spiritual emptiness of contemporary society.
  • Strongly expressed aristocratic views, and considered the masses as “hollow men” who were “incapable of doing what could be properly thought of” or of high aesthetic perception.
  • Celebrates customs and traditions, myths and rituals and condemns the transformation of history “an easily consumable product known as ‘tradition’.”

As Eagleton observes, in addition to his (hateful) aristocracy towards democratic society and his (hateful) blindness to hatred and cultural diversity, conservative modernity shares many concerns with liberal and radical modernism. TS Elliott saw no conflict between the classical notions of discipline, balance and harmony, and modernist poetry, which is characterized by “spiritual disorder, dirty imagery, broken rhythms, discourse, and barren interior landscapes,” since modernity must be drawn. Images of contemporary life and everyday experience and speaks to the cultural concerns and social ills of his age.

So, if there is a strong conservative modernist current between art and literature, how did modernity later become synonymous with the political left?

Let me offer some possible explanations that go beyond the argument that the problem exists between various gatekeepers – publishers, critics, agents, art merchants and professors of academic creative writing and art programs – who discriminate against self-conscious conservative artists, poets and others. Fiction writer:

1. Artists and writers come from a growing margin.
The Avant-Garde is made up of a growing number of writers and artists who were black, Jewish, female, gay, lesbian, immigrant or other expatriate group who came to define themselves as opposed to the existing traditions and power structures of society and conservative values.

2. Conservatism in art and literature has been associated with diminishing realism and simplistic morality.
Like the Civil War or the contemporary art of the American West, conservatism in art has become something other than modernism. It is easily dismissed as second-rate, pedestrian, flashy and tasteless, crude, clichডd, contraindicated and inexperienced এবং and profoundly moralistic, exclusive, restrictive and nostalgic.

3. The fierce cultural criticism that TS Elliott favored became essentially a leftist province.
There is no underlying reason that conservatism in art cannot include the type of cultural critique related to Elliott (or, with Nietzsche). And of course, more radical forms of modernist and post-modern art could easily fall into orthodox azithprop and crude propaganda. But while liberal and radical modernists sought language, symbols, forms, and methods for expressing their cultural critique, more conservative modernists did not.

4. States that could create alternative forms of modernism failed to do so.
Higher secularism, the growing role of colleges and universities in the training of writers and artists, and the nationalization and globalization of the industrial world have increasingly displaced areas where artistic adversity may arise.

Art is never apolitical. Even the slogan “art for art’s sake,” 19 at firstM The notion of the century that art needs no justification and does not meet a moral purpose has in itself brought about a political end: rejecting the belief that works of art should be morally advanced or educational.

Modernity – a challenge to established orthodoxy and old styles and forms, and artistic experimentation with Freudian psychoanalysis, the emergence of physics and the discovery of a hidden world of radioactivity, the invention of photography, the new perception of optics, influences, non-European artwork, , A growing emphasis on the unconscious and the flow of consciousness – was around the end of the 19th centuryM And 20M The greatest contribution of the century to art and literature.

Art has become more explicitly and self-consciously politicized as it moves away from what Terry Eagleton calls “representative realism” to a more straightforward form of art and literary mimesis. The flow from truth to more modernist, abstract, surreal, satirical, and democratic forms of representation was, in part, driven by new psychological understandings, new political views, and far-reaching social transformations that questioned the old forms of representation. Has been considered realistic.

There is no need to be distracted from the aesthetic dimension of seeing works of art as politically internal. But it must deepen our understanding of the work of art and literature, which never expresses life “as it is.” Rather, as Erich Auerbach argued almost 80 years ago, such works always reflect reality through various artistic and literary conferences. However, it is important to add that those works carry deep social, political and moral meaning and implications that readers or viewers need to learn how to decipher.

Steven Mintz is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

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