I began by replying to Jack but I think my reply is also relevant to Thomas, Francois and ‘rhinoboy’. The writer, Irving Babbit, (‘Rousseau & Romanticism’. Babbit was T.S. Eliot’s teacher at Harvard) described the world of ideas as having ‘a prodigious peripheral richness linked to a vast central void’, meaning we have lost our soul or, as the Art Lover says, “We have lost touch with ourselves. Only the art lover stays in touch with ideas.”
Yes, there are ideas but the ideas are the ideas of the specialist: a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less. At the time of the Renaissance there was not so much knowledge and men attempted to know everything which was known and attempted, therefore, to have an overview. Nobody today could possibly know all the scientific stuff that has been discovered and new knowledge is happening all over the world faster than anyone could assimilate it. And I want to pay tribute to all those people who have ideas as to how to save the planet with their hands-on approach. But overall we are victims of global dogma: competition, growth, profit for a few. (The Pirate represents the fact that we are all supposed to benefit from the false propaganda of trickle-down.)
The problem is that we are dangerously short of culture; this has been replaced by the cult of the individual. For example, I don’t know of any practicing visual artists. These people who call themselves artists subscribe to the dogma: anyone can be an artist – this follows from the blanket view of democracy that we are all equal – the media (propaganda) flatters us all that everything we do is precious so of course we all complacently agree. Artists’ aspirations these days are to express themselves when what is required is that they should tell the truth: self-delusion means telling lies.
And I do believe that artists should limit themselves to truth telling. There is no originality, though I do agree that some people whose art is derivative do try to tell the truth. To them, I recommend that they should extend their view of art beyond the 20th century, e.g. most of today’s artists would be at a loss if Jean Cocteau or Marcel Duchamp had not lived. Duchamp’s urinal overthrows the idea of skill and the intrinsic value of a work of art and transfers its value to the eye of the beholder. When the work of art has no value, this subjective appreciation can be nothing more than a whim. This applies to abstract art – there is no value in red in relation to blue and yellow. They have no more meaning than a symphony composed of a few notes. The other oppressive tenet of dogma which the AR Manifesto refutes is that the past is irrelevant. It is important to remember that there is no progress in art.
Regarding culture, I try to avoid using the sense now in daily use that culture is something that applies to any social group. As the AR Manifesto seeks to establish, ‘culture elevates’ (p25). And this depends on the artist telling the truth and the art lover discovering it. So, I don’t agree that all art is a political and cultural act. I think this only applies to all true art (of course an artist can try to make an overtly political statement as well.)
Thank you all for reading the AR Manifesto and for your intellectually rigourous opinions. However, I am more critical than all of you.