So also with art
A brief introduction.
One of the Fathers of the Church said that the great evil is not that men do not know God, but that they have set up, instead of God, that which is not God. So also with art.
As is obvious to the handful of aficionados still thinking about art, at least as conceived as the line of culture extending from Lascaux to Giotto in the first semester and Giotto to Van Gogh in the second, followed by increasingly zany shenanigans in specialty courses thereafter, art in 2022 is at best irrelevant to how modern society conceives itself, and at worst a debauched pastime for billionaires.
It nevertheless retains a fragment of its original soul, and consequently a retinue of believers. For better or worse I am one of them. For better, because my life has been thus enriched to no end. I have been invited to reside in places from Loleta, CA to Great Cranberry Island, ME, and from Taichung to Vienna, just to be who I am and do what I do. I have access, at will, to certain kinds of sensory experiences for which others require drugs.1
For worse, because the superstructure that preserves and promotes art is almost entirely a handmaiden of a phenomenon I call progressive postliberalism. This is, in short, a phenomenon that seeks to protect the oppressed and bring low their oppressors by replacing the liberal order of tolerance, existential equality, individual rights, and market economics with one of intolerance, racial and sexual identitarianism, collectivist obligations, and command economics. Said phenomenon has culminated (thus far!) in one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the Western museum, the exhibition “Philip Guston Now” and its associated agonies, which I have chronicled. tl;dr: In the early 1930s, The Klan ripped down an exhibition of work by Philip Guston because as a Jew, he was basically black. In the early 2020s, four museums associated with a comprehensive exhibition of the artist accomplished the same thing via administrative means because as a Jew, he was basically white.
So it has become clear to us who hear a dissident muse that we need to form our own support structures. Hence Dissident Muse, which right now consists of a nifty visualizer and a storefront that sells Aphorisms for Artists: 100 Ways Toward Better Art by my much-missed mentor Walter Darby Bannard. It will soon be the single banner under which I peddle my books, prints, and whatnot, and material produced by like minds.
Beyond that, technology and modernity are blurring the borders between entities that exhibit, those that publish, and those that educate. I intend to make Dissident Muse such a yet-unnamed creature, not quite gallery, press, or school, in a manner that holds dear the one necessary condition of vital art-making, that of freedom.
Hope you’ll follow along.
I should also admit that others have access, at will, to abilities to deal with the mundanities of life for which I require drugs. Somewhere Dōgen says that there’s no privileged state of existence.