We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center. Profaning the iconography of other people's faiths is boring and adolescent.
Thus comments atheist Camille Paglia in her excellent essay. She makes the case, with which I agree, that art without a spiritual center quickly degenerates into narcissism, commercialism, propagandizing, or adolescent shock-art. Another quote:
A primary arena for the conservative-liberal wars has been the arts. While leading conservative voices defend the traditional Anglo-American literary canon, which has been under challenge and in flux for forty years, American conservatives on the whole, outside of the New Criterion magazine, have shown little interest in the arts, except to promulgate a didactic theory of art as moral improvement that was discarded with the Victorian era at the birth of modernism. Liberals, on the other hand, have been too content with the high visibility of the arts in metropolitan centers, which comprise only a fraction of America. Furthermore, liberals have been complacent about the viability of secular humanism as a sustaining creed for the young. And liberals have done little to reverse the scandalous decline in urban public education or to protest the crazed system of our grotesquely overpriced, cafeteria-style higher education, which for thirty years was infested by sterile and now fading poststructuralism and postmodernism. The state of the humanities in the US can be measured by present achievement: would anyone seriously argue that the fine arts or even popular culture is enjoying a period of high originality and creativity? American genius currently resides in technology and design. The younger generation, with its mastery of video games and its facility for ever-evolving gadgetry like video cell phones and iPods, has massively shifted to the Web for information and entertainment.
I would argue that the route to a renaissance of the American fine arts lies through religion.
Image: One of Andy Warhol's Tomato Soup images, to my mind just one example of "art" lacking in a center - unless his idea was to mock the very idea of artistry. He made himself fabulously wealthy with this sort of stuff, but his Hollywood-style celebrity was at the core of it all.
Ah, yes Campbell's tomato soup + grill cheese sandwich is one of life's great combinations.
I've tried other tomato soups over the years that try to be fancier with herbs or chunks of tomatos, but Campbell's is simply the best. I like to make it with half water/half milk and a few drops of hot pepper sauce such as Tobascoe or Texas Pete's...and always with a grill cheese sandwich.
I've always found Warhol and the whole NYC 60s avante-garde art scene to be miserably depressing, in every aspect. Painters, give me the 19th century impressionists, with all that impasto and direct brush-stroke rendering of light in nature --and optimism about the value of beauty and truth, and all that digified respect for human beings.