Alexander Hellene

Art That Hurts

Every so often, certain corners of the commentariat are subject to a paroxysm of debate whereby a man of the left mocks “conservatives” for being unable to make great art, stating boldly that they are incapable of such, will never make the next great art, and that art is fundamentally anti-conservative.

This provokes the predictable and intended responses from conservatives of all stripes who attempt to rebut this assertion. Very often, this is in the form of a litany of some of the West’s greatest composers, authors, painters, and poets who were ostensibly conservative.

First of all, let me say that I agree with the underlying premise that conservatives as we define the term in the United States, will not produce the next great art. I think they are more than capable of making good art, but due to conservatives’ instinctive revulsion towards arts, artists, or anything artistic, too many have an uphill battle to not only the creation of such art, but it acceptance among their peers.

But I also do not think that anybody on the left will make the next great art either. This is because the left has become jaw-droppingly boring, predicable, and yes, conservative.

*     *     *

We should have listened to the madmen.

We should have listened to the wild ones.

Their ways were strange, but their aims were the same,

At least the same as what we said. Did we mean it?

Instead we came at them, stones in hand,

Bloodied their heads, drained their cachet.

A single mistake—a lifetime of pain,

While others thrive on, champagne in blood-stained hand.

We cast them adrift, yet they continued to cry out,

Trying to warn us, undeserving,

Saying what we’re afraid to hear but need to,

Things that held up a mirror to our grey reality,

A reality of our own design.

Foxes in a winter glade, leg clutched in steel jaws,

Imagine if the fox placed the trap itself;

That’s us!

The more violently we recoiled, the more truthful it probably was.

*     *     *

Conservatism isn’t actually an ideology. It is a stance, a pose, an attitude, one that exists only in relation to that which exists around it. It is the desire to conserve the status quo, and it is usually those whom the current order benefits that wish to keep it in place. In the U.S., “conservative” has become synonymous with “the political right,” at least as it is presented by the Republican Party.

I think, from a political standpoint, the term should be jettisoned by all who stand in opposition to the regime currently ruling us, but if you want to talk about uphill battles, this is the grandaddy of them all.

Anyway, American conservatives have spent generations mocking anybody who wants to go into creative writing or music or film production as losers wasting their time and their parents’ money when they should be getting real jobs, like actuary or salesman. How’d that work out?

Similarly, being “radical” only exists in how it opposes the status quo. In a way, a radical is a reactionary. This impulse is the realm where great art comes from.

Conservatives can absolutely make good art, just as much as progressives can. But American-style conservative beliefs, such as they are, which focus on laissez faire economics, low corporate taxes, and the libertarian ethos that anything for the “common good” of society automatically equals millions of bodies in mass graves, don’t exactly inspire the soul.

American-style progressives, with their outright Luciferianism, their denial of basic human biology, mathematics, family, spirituality, their exaltation of the gross and perverted and depraved, don’t inspire the soul either, but they inspire the crotch and the amygdala—two areas where, if you work them to a frenzy, can be unleashed to do all sorts of damage, achieving orgasm and slaying offspring while exacting violence on the people they are told are their oppressors. It is anti-natal and profoundly anti-life. And it has won.

Progressivism is the status quo now. Therefore, those looking to maintain this hegemony are incredibly conservative to a degree that would shock the Puritans. Their art reflects this bland, narrow array of interests, interests which happen to aligns with those of the gigantic corporations controlling this freakish marionette. They denounce and cast out any who deviate even slightly from their established orthodoxy, while offering no hope of forgiveness or salvation. A religion without hope. Even the pagans believed in redemption.

In any piece of progressive art, you know exactly who the villains will be, and what beliefs they hold. You know if a character will be a paragon or a pariah based on their gender, skin color, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. There is little-to-no nuance, no risk-taking—how could there be in manuscripts and screenplays and lyric sheets run through layers of sensitivity readers and subject to the veto of the most bizarre, screeching, mentally ill and small-souled specimens of humanity?

Unfortunately, the putative opposition to this has mounted a defense so weak that calling it limp-wristed runs the risk of being too forceful. Conservatives tend to advocate for many of the same things progressives did five years ago when it is viewed as politically expedient to do so. It is not cutting edge, pushes few boundaries, and asks no forbidden questions. What’s worse, it’s stated raison d’etre of standing athwart history and yelling “STOP” cannot be taken seriously, seeing as how it has stopped little to nothing.

A part of this is due to the inherent difficulty of having a negative vision. It is far more alluring for any movement to be for doing something as opposed to being for NOT doing something. Art can reflect that a certain thing is bad and should therefore not be done, but at the same time it needs to present an alternative that is more appealing . . . and not merely on the economic level. 

Maybe some of the new conservative publishing houses and movie studios can do this effectively. I have my doubts, given that far too many in those quarters are afraid of even the most anodyne of transgressive ideas that go against the pieties of the day. They are too afraid of being called “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobic” or “nationalist” or “fascist” for having opinions like, “You know, maybe having open borders isn’t such a hot idea,” that they expend far too much energy trying to appease people who hate them and wish they were dead no matter what that they’re not all of the things that their enemies already think they are.

In light of this, how could anybody find their art threatening?

Because that’s what we need if we are to get out of this mess. Art like a shiv. Art like a blade to the throat. Art like a kick in the crotch. Art to inspire howls of rage and boycotts, shrieking harpies calling for book burnings. Art that hurts.

The next great art is neither going to be conservative nor progressive. It is going to be deeply religious, probably Christian, and deeply politically radical, probably far-right. And I mean far-right” in the European sense of the term, where “right-wing” is most certainly not synonymous with “low taxes and no welfare.”

These are the only ideologies that are radical enough to frighten the status quo. And I think that, if done right, art can be made that appeals to those outside of the choir.

How can you create great art if you’re not operating at the margins, the dark corners where forbidden ideas lurk, and what once seemed unthinkable is now knocking at the door?

Beethoven was not a conservative. Tolkien was not a conservative. Rembrandt was not a conservative. Michelangelo was not a conservative. Stravinsky was not a conservative. Mishima was not a conservative. Swift, Quixote, Dostoevsky, Dante, these people were not conservative.

They were transcendent. They spoke the truth.

*     *     *

The pursuit of respectability (in whose eyes?) and acceptance (from whom?) has caused us to drive away the prophets and visionaries among us. Too late, we are now seeing that those embarrassing, gauche individuals we called cranks and kooks were right all along.

The good news is that the competition for anybody who wishes to create threatening art has never been weaker. The path is wide-open. After all, the only forbidden idea the progressives have left to explore is sex with children, and if we can’t successfully oppose these sickos and present a better alternative, then we deserve to lose.

– Alexander

4 thoughts on “Art That Hurts”

  1. Alexander

    This phenomenon is common in the Anglosphere but it’s more pronounced I the U.S. this comes from various strands of Protestantism which was very iconoclastic and the resisidue still permits. Also the English rebellion provoked a milliarianism outburst. Further the Black legend degenerated English arts to propaganda (think the lurid, over the top ludicrous claims which foreshadowed blosheivik and French revolutionary propaganda) so art becomes long con psyops gift. It’s for everything but for escapist entertainment. Just look at the sci-fi subversion during the 30s

    OK so the prescriptions:dump the art must be practical and make money or serve a purpose. Next, cultivate virtues, the good, beautiful, true. Finally support the artists. Financially, word of mouth via social media, etc
    We need not only to regress but go parallel.

    xavier

    1. It’s a very weird phenomenon, but one that exists primarily on the faction of the American right that calls itself “conservative.” I don’t know how much that has to do with Protestantism, the Anglosphere, or dislike of the Spanish. It’s an attitudinal thing that I am only speculating goes back to Buckley and his followers and their revulsion at what was being passed off as art in the 1960s.

      Also, art as “personal expression” was one of the most poisonous ideologies to infect the West. Art requires study, practice, and a deep understanding of what came before and why it worked. The “personal expression” comes through in good, true, and beautiful art.

      1. Alexander,

        A complement to Buckley is Tom Wolfe’s from Bauhaus to our house. He
        analyzes by skewering the contemporary art scene of the 60s. The situation has only degenerated but Wolfe’s trenchant commentary is still relevant.

        I highly recommend Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity: flow and the psychology of creativity to further complement Wolfe.

        Csikszentmihalyi is the one who concluded it takes 10 years before you become creative in your field (which common popularizations translated that as 10 000 hours practising or a million words)

        He was also adamant that before you can break the rules in your field, you have to know the rules beforehand (thus the 10-year apprenticeship)

        Art, as a personal expression, is nothing more than a stupid variation of the poor starving misunderstood ‘artist’.

        Someone too proud and too selfish to adhere to the standards of his craft. So of course, he deserves to starve because he’s so ignorant that he’s ignorant and is happy to stay wilfully so.

        It’s harsh, but it’s truthful.

        xavier

        1. Xavier,

          Interesting recommendations–thank you! I have heard of Csikszentmihalyi as the originator of this 10,000 rule, as opposed to Malcolm Gladwell, who gets all of the credit; I remember both because of the ubiquity of this concept, and the uniqueness of Csikszentmihalyi’s name.

          Art is personal expression, but needs more than the expressive impulse to create objectively good art. However, if one denies that there are objective standards of art, then I guess you can go to town.

Leave a Reply

Take a look at my books

Nothing, Sincerely

If you were really a nihilist, you’d have killed yourself already. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. Maybe not. But the point is, belief is inherent in

Read More »

Just Bleed

The real tragedy of modernity is not that we become our work, our identities bound up in our professions. It’s that the professions we have

Read More »