Essay Page 15



Very good points, all.

One of the big problems when dealing with the question of art is cultural and historical: as you know, many cultures don't even have a word for art, or don't see it as an autonomous activity, don't (for example) treat it as independent of religion, say, or decoration. So we're stuck with dealing with a local, time-bound understanding of it~one that, happily or not, is bound up with our limited (and short-term) cultural circumstances.

I totally agree that the politicization of "cultural production" (the current awful term for it) is deadly. If the artist does not have an independent mind and take on his material and art, he's pretty useless. The modern artist needs to be politically incorrect on all fronts - he needs to be a kind of congenital traitor to the cause, or at least one should never be able to guess his allegiances from his work.

I also agree that the artist, when he becomes part of the academy, is in danger of losing at least some credibility. But only if he lets it~only if he is more eager to belong than is consistent with his honesty.

But everything I have experienced demonstrates to me, anyway, that there is a fundamental tension between high art and modern democracy and its egalitarianism: art is