something that can even redeem humanity when nothing else can redeem
That being said, I don't think that such elitism is inimical to Democracy.
The reason I don't is that the artist's best subject will often be
the common man, the ordinary person. He must sympathize with that
person in order to create great art that speaks to a significant audience.
I would say this was true even during the time of royal and church
patronage. You might be a prince, but you're still a human being with
human problems and limitations that are widely shared. The same emotions~sadness,
happiness, love, etc. There are just too many universals out there
for art to be able to neatly divorce itself from ordinary people.
art that does try to divorce itself in that way is just "art", not
real art: a sterile game in which a small group preaches to the choir,
and everyone falls into a state of self-satisfied ennui....
Consider Moliere (I wonder why he sticks in my mind so much) as opposed
to, say, a professor of music composition at UC Santa Cruz teaching
his graduate students and trying to win various academic accolades.
If that professor were like Moliere, he would be mocking his little
circle of elitists, not circling the wagons to protect it.
Anyway, those are just some thoughts I've had off-hand. I'll reread
your email later to see if I have any more to say on the subject.