On art and kitsch
- People need art.
- Art is in the hands of too few people.
- The spirit of unlimited bandwidth encourages us to revitalize the spirit of art in literature, filmmaking, music, painting, dance -- in everything. But we must do it ourselves.
- On the all-important subject of kitsch: Milan Kundera is to be taken as written. As this passage from Wikipedia explains:
Other theorists over time have also linked kitsch to totalitarianism. The Czech writer Milan Kundera, in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), defined it as "the absolute denial of shit." His argument was that kitsch functions by excluding from view everything that humans find difficult to come to terms with, offering instead a sanitised view of the world in which "all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions."
In its desire to paper over the complexities and contradictions of real life, kitsch, Kundera suggested, is intimately linked with totalitarianism. In a healthy democracy, diverse interest groups compete and negotiate with one another to produce a generally acceptable consensus; by contrast, "everything that infringes on kitsch," including individualism, doubt, and irony, "must be banished for life" in order for kitsch to survive. Therefore, Kundera wrote, "Whenever a single political movement corners power we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch."
For Kundera, "Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch."
- When artists make art with the assumption that it is too good for regular people, regular people learn to reject the possibility of art in their lives. This leaves them with nothing but kitsch.
- A diet of kitsch is like a diet of refined sugar: addictive, self-destructive and soul-killing.
- Yes, "Art is whatever an artist can get away with," but that is the lowest possible common denominator of art, like saying that "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Both are true, but neither is true in a limiting sense. They provide baselines for art and freedom, but they do not set their ceilings. One can be free, or an artist, and aspire only to these truths, but one should not confuse the LCD with the highest expression of a concept.
- When what is on the canvas alone is not enough to make a judgment on its quality, then art has been replaced by theory.
- When theory is less important than the theorist, then art has been replaced by fashion.
- When only fashion determines success, then art has been replaced by conformity.
Editor's Note: The original Xarker Manifesto was published on this site on June 29, 2005. Subsequent changes and additions appear with a date attached.
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