Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Beware: Culture

Penned upon the 24th of May, 2006

The Arts and Crafts movement, of the late nineteenth century, saw a danger in the spread of industrial machines into human life. They set about creating beautiful things with their own skilled hands, and decided that when a machine must be used, it should make work easier, not be work in itself. The furniture, decorations and wallpaper they created were not meant for museums, but to be sold to the public. In working so, they wished to save the creative, spiritual and human from the soulless and mechanised.

One hundred years on, society seems not only to have given up hope, but even to have forgotten what it wanted to protect. Art has become metallic, impenetrable, minimalist to the point of seemingly never having been touched by human hands. The unskilled, uninspiring and unappealing are dominant – and it is said this is in defence of the common people, against elitist values!

Which is more populist: to bring fine things to those who have gone without, that all may enjoy them, or to abolish those fine things and make drudgery universal? Placing low content in a high context may be memorable, for an easy option, but to place high content in a low context is a truly radical act. To condescend to the proles so much as to be afraid to offend them by displaying skill, education or culture is elitist values condensed (though alas all too common in these allegedly-egalitarian colonies, where the manly man is king and those with too much culture must cringe).

Spraypaint a Renoir on a public wall. Perform your favourite opera in a busy shopping strip. Write letters to the editor in verse. Picket a paticularly banal commercial broadcaster in the form of a waltz, demanding Mahler. And by the devil’s well-manicured horns, never let anyone say that high education or public media are special interest concerns.


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Commentary upon “Beware: Culture”

  1. Thoth Hermes was heard to remark,

    Upon the 24th of May, 2006 at 2:41 am,

    In regard to your missive of the 24th instant, might I say that I most heartily concurr! What passes for fine art in our times in most cases is banality gone pompous! The value of the vision and aesthetic sensibilities of the Arts and Crafts artist is reflected in the prices their surviving works command in the antique shop.

    I am new to your diary and reservoir of reflection, having been introduced to it this very night by a colleague. I wish to congratulate you on a remarkable achievement of wry wit, lively comment, and delightfull aesthetics.

    Yours in appreciation,

    Thoth Hermes


  2. Sir Frederick Chooke was heard to remark,

    Upon the 17th of June, 2006 at 1:09 am,

    My sincerest thanks, M. Hermes.


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