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New Equalitarianism

Posted by acdtest on September 2, 2003

New Equalitarianism

‘d intended to bypass commenting on the following bit of tendentious nonsense by weblogger J.W. of Forager 23 beyond my extended quip (in Update #4 of this piece) only because commentary is pretty much a pointless exercise. All those with their wits about them will not be taken in by J.W.’s slick attempt to change the subject in his bid to pitch the New Equalitarian message as it concerns the arts, and the witless will not be aware a pitch was being made, and won’t understand the argument to begin with.

But it’s been a lazy holiday weekend, so why not.

I write a piece extolling the transcendent genius of Frank Lloyd Wright (my piece linked above), and J. W. sees it as an attempt by me at “…defending the structural problems of Wright’s buildings[!],” and

…a perfect example of the silliness of smart people who blindly cling to the modernist corpse. […] A.C., like many other worshippers at the altar of Frank Lloyd Wright, has turned to high modernism in order to fill his spiritual void.

And there I was thinking I was lauding the genius of a single individual. Silly me. I should have realized I was actually lauding an entire movement and its ideology.

Well, J.W. saw right through my little self-deceiving imposture. Still, it’s strange to discover I was in reality lauding modernism and the modernist ideology considering it’s been my lifelong conviction as an adult that all aesthetic movements and ideologies of any stripe whatsoever are products of the herd mind and of the impotent, and are never by any chance taken in-earnest part in by those of authentic genius who ineluctably go their own unique and individual way as they cannot but help doing, although they and their ways may become the anchors of movements and ideologies by others after the fact.

But, then, the modernist movement and its ideology per se are not what really upset J.W. What really upsets him we learn in his very next sentence.

But modernism, like Marxism, is a cult…catering to the desire for power of a small enlightened elite.

And there you have it in all its postmodern glory. It’s the goals — nay, the very existence — of those evil elitists and their evil elitism that rankle so. And they rankle not on Marxist principles either (which, after all, are passé as Marxism is but a cult), but on the principles of the New Equalitarianism (which because unnamed and unidentified except by me is presumably neither cult nor movement nor ideology), adhering to which principles

Most of us have decided that it’s wiser to spend the tremendous amount of time and energy needed to make people see the value of unreadable books, unlistenable music, and unlivable buildings [i.e., the presumptive products of modernism] [by instead] writing great books for people to read, composing profound music for people to listen to, and making beautiful buildings for people to live in.

Uh-huh. Books like [fill in the title of any book by any one of the popular genre fiction writers], music like [fill in the title of any piece of music by any one of the popular New Age composers], and buildings like [fill in the name of any building or development made by any “architect” who produces comfy, picture-pretty copies of historical — or as it’s more, um, delicately referred to, “traditional” — building designs].

Right. And don’t forget rock music is as much art as anything Bach wrote, and Joyce’s writings have nothing over, say, Spiderman comic books as art. They’re just different.

Got it.

Indeed I do.

UPDATE (4 September at 3:02 PM Eastern): J.W. of Forager 23 makes thoughtful and well-reasoned response, with much of which (but not all; characterizations of my “extremism” in particular) I agree.

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