:: Friday, October 24, 2014 ::
Majesty vs. Myopia
Posted by Edward Cline at 7:32 PM
I begin this column by offering a measure
of what I choose to uphold what ought to be a standard of esthetics, at least
in portraiture. It is by no means my only measure, but it does reflect a person
I once knew, and who is still close to my conception of a romantic ideal. If
she is reading this, she will recognize herself.
Lady Agnew of Lochnaw is a luxuriant
representation of the kind of woman a man ought to want: In the frank,
steadfast glance at her auditor is the knowledge of how she is being regarded,
that knowledge shamelessly obvious in the set of her eyes and face, in the
quiet confidence of her bearing, in her total expression. It is, from my own
perspective, at least, a seductive, come-hither look. The hues of her satin
gown, the purple sash, and the relaxed set of her arms, the surrounding colors
of the armchair, the neutral background, in terms of composition, together all
highlight and are all calculated to guide one’s glance to the focal point, that
unforgettable, alluring face….
I have other such conceptions. Some are
photographic, others cinematic. But Lady
Agnew has been anchored in my gallery most of my adult life. A framed
reproduction of it hangs on one of my walls. Two of my fictional characters are
also painters and portraitists, literary versions of my projection of a
romantic ideal: Stella Dawn in Run From
Judgment, and Dilys Jones-Skeen in the Cyrus Skeen detective novels.
Well, enough of that. My point here is that
this caliber of art has virtually vanished. There are some capable, unsung
artists able to produce that quality of portraiture, but they are invisible to
the cultural establishment, and if recognized, then shunned, banished, and
deprecated. I happen to know at least two such artists, but only one has a website.
To create Lady Agnew required an enormous context and a measure of beauty. Sargent produced other exquisite
paintings, some of which I like, others I do not. But, regardless of the quality
of his work, it demanded a nominally rational epistemology and metaphysics.
Otherwise, his paintings would be incomprehensible as selective recreations of
reality, just as contemporary art is largely incomprehensible and
incommunicable in meaning.
A canvas of dots and slashes is just a
canvas of dots and slashes, regardless of the artist says it is. A pile of I-beams
welded to hubcaps and fenders is just a collection of junk, regardless of what
the “sculptor” says it is. He could give it some metaphorical name that may
mean something to him, but that is just an arbitrary label.
even have a name. One knows what she is. She has an identity apart from
Sargent’s title. She is an abstraction reduced to a concrete.
Novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand offered a
philosophy of art that could’ve been understood by Sargent, had he been able to
read it, but is basically hieroglyphics to modern artists. In her essay, “Art and Cognition” in The
Romantic Manifesto, she wrote:
Art is a selective
re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments.
Man’s profound need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is
conceptual, i.e., that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and
needs the power to bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his
immediate, perceptual awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a
selective re-creation, it concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of
existence. It tells man, in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be
regarded as essential, significant, important. In this sense, art teaches man
how to use his consciousness. It conditions or stylizes man’s consciousness by
conveying to him a certain way of looking at existence.
By a selective
re-creation, art isolates and integrates those aspects of reality which
represent man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. Out of the
countless number of concretes—of single, disorganized and (seemingly)
contradictory attributes, actions and entities—an artist isolates the things
which he regards as metaphysically essential and integrates them into a single
new concrete that represents an embodied abstraction.
consider two statues of man: one as a Greek god, the other as a deformed
medieval monstrosity. Both are metaphysical estimates of man; both are
projections of the artist’s view of man’s nature; both are concretized
representations of the philosophy of their respective cultures.
Art is a
concretization of metaphysics. Art brings man’s concepts to the perceptual
level of his consciousness and allows him to grasp them directly, as if they
This is the
psycho-epistemological function of art and the reason of its importance in
Every color, hue, and line in Lady Agnew constitutes a concrete
integrated with countless other concretes to recreate an identifiable entity
which has been reduced to a single, concretized entity. Those colors, hues, and lines were determined
by Sargent to be essential to the image. They reflect his epistemology and
metaphysics in his sense of life and in an estimate of himself.
But, what makes modern artists tick? Why do
they continue to present artworks that seem to confess a madness or insanity
that is in violent conflict with the norm of “common sense” or which clashes
with everyone else’s sensory experience?
Briefly, their epistemologies and
metaphysics are arrested at the concrete level. Whether that is a matter of
choice or is self-induced or is congenital, is irrelevant. To them, reality is
a chaos and no sense can be made of it. Themes are impossible and comprehension
of anything is subjective.
Modern art is a child of Immanuel Kant, the 18th
century Prussian philosopher who never ventured from his hometown of
Königsberg. His philosophy was that “true” reality was unknowable to man, that
the contents of his mind are subjective according to layers of filters that
sift thru sensory data and produce a false knowledge of existence. Existence
was dichotomized into the noumenal world, which man could never know
“directly,” and the phenomenal world as conveyed by our senses, which distort
or mistranslate the noumenal.
Which, in turn, presents to modern artists
a maelstrom of disconnected concretes, an unintelligible universe, with no
unifying law or system, in which identities or labels are arbitrary and subjective.
In most cases it is very unlikely modern
artists have ever even heard of Kant (or of any of his reality-contesting successors
of the 19th century). But by either conscious, calculated inclination to put
over a fraud (as Picasso
did), or because an artist is an obsessive schizophrenic, chronically nauseous,
and who is burdened with a mental cyclic vomiting syndrome and can only “express”
himself in episodes of expectoration .
For example, Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude
Descending a Staircase” is not how anyone will see a nude woman descending
a staircase, not even Duchamp. Remove one of the elements in the image, and it
wouldn’t make a difference. Add one or more, and it wouldn’t make a difference.
It could have the same title or any other title, such as a “Rasher of Bacon” or
“Portrait of My Garbage Man.”
Subtracting or adding a drop of paint or
slash of color to or from one of Jackson Pollack’s canvases would not make a
difference to the overall, alleged “composition,” regardless of the name given
it by Pollack. It
could be “Splashes No. 46,” Or “I was drunk as a laird, No. 2,” or have no
The focus of modern artists is not on
universal themes – which require some level of abstraction – but mere concretes.
It is some species of mental myopia that would limit an alleged artist to pick
some concretes that attracts him in the swirling dust devil of existence that
comprises such a person’s metaphysics.
In your mind’s eye picture a modern artist frantically
in search of some one entity his myopia can focus on and recreate (or not) to
the exclusion of context. Ah, there’s Andy Warhol’s eight hour “movie” of the Empire State
Building. Who can forget his Campbell
Soup Cans? And then there’s another fellow who photographs a collection of
light bulbs. An American creates a sort-of blowup Christmas tree,
but it actually looks like a sex toy. It sits in the Place Vendome, Paris. Then there’s a very-well done, “realistic”
sculpture of copulating
crickets, with commendable attention paid to anatomical detail. The art
that sits inside this Silicon Valley exhibit hall is on a par with the “erotic”
insects. “Composer” John
Cage focused on sounds
without melody or a shred of continuity. Or no sounds at all. (He studied under Arnold Schonberg, so
what else could you expect but noise?)
Want to distort the human face (“…a boot
planted on the human face forever….” Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four), then try and compete with Chuck Close’s
gallery of horrible, Halloween-caliber faces. except they aren’t for Halloween,
they’re “high art.” Collectors pay fortunes for these…”portraits.” After all,
ugly or nondescript visages are concretes, too.
I could go on indefinitely about the number
of utilitarian objects that have been the subjects of modern artists. It was
not my intention to subject the reader to a menu of modern art, but I couldn’t
think of a better way to dramatize the difference between the minds that could
produce Lady Agnew and the myopic,
very disturbed minds that could produce rubbish.
Please see a gallery of Sargent’s works as an
0 Comments ::
:: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 ::
Metropolitan Opera Joins the Jihadists
Posted by Edward Cline at 1:17 PM
It’s a sign of how far America has been
corrupted by political correctness, subjectivism in ethics, and relativism in
the arts that a shoddy opera that romanticizes murdering terrorists can be put
on by a major cultural institution, the Metropolitan Opera of New York City.
I am not an aficionado of heavy weight
opera. I won't go into my esthetic tastes here, because those are irrelevant.
What is relevant is the obscenity of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, which debuted at the Metropolitan Opera
last night (October 20th), whose libretto is a long-winded, atonal propaganda
piece for the Islamic jihadists who hijacked a cruise ship and murdered Leon Klinghoffer,
a passenger because he was a Jew. Listen to the sing-song screeching here
and also a trailer.
But even the discordant singing and jumbled
orchestral score are irrelevant. Even had Adams’s opus been written in the
disciplined and original style of Georges Bizet or Giacomo Puccini or Giuseppe
Verdi, Klinghoffer remains a sucker
punch to all standards of moral decency and civilized taste.
More importantly, staging The Death of Klinghoffer is in
conformance to the prescriptive steps for “cultural jihad” promoted by the
Muslim Brotherhood in its 1991
memorandum for “transforming” America from a free republic into a bastion
of totalitarian Islam. The Brotherhood’s “master plan” calls for “eliminating
and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its
miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…” Peter
Gelb, the Met’s general manager, composer John Adams, and director Tom Morris I
guess don’t mind lending their hands to the PLO, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban,
and other Islamic gangs.
Death of Klinghoffer
is fundamentally a U.S. State Department and New York taxpayer-funded exercise
in malodorous agitprop for anti-Semitism and
Islam. John Adams and the Met may as well have staged an adaptation of Leni
of the Will as a musical with dialogue. Better yet, he could have turned “Springtime for Hitler” from
The Producers into a serious,
Wagnerian style opera, with no dancing and no plumbing for laughs. Why not?
If you’re going to shill for Islam and its
core Jew-hatred and its unapologetic ugliness, why not go whole hog? I’m sure
the cost of producing a musical Triumph
of the Will can be recouped in the usual ticket prices, which for Klinghoffer are going from $35
to $145 a seat. I’m sure the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, could offer
special discounted prices to Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, and to the
whole staff of the Council on American-Islam Relations. Perhaps even offer
private showings for the staffs of every Islamic front group in the country.
Full houses guaranteed.
of Klinghoffer is
being vigorously protested,
and the Met’s Peter Gelb has been hard-pressed to cancel its debut and
Yet, the opera has its defenders. New York’s
Communist mayor, Bill de Blasio, for example, according to a New
York Daily News article of October 20th, said:
Mayor de Blasio
defended the Metropolitan Opera's right to show "The Death of
Klinghoffer," and criticized predecessor Rudy Giuliani's protest against
the controversial work.
think we have to be very careful in a free society to respect that cultural
institutions will portray works of art, put on operas, plays, that there will
be art exhibits in museum," de Blasio said Monday at an unrelated press
"And in a free
society we respect that. We don't have to agree with what's in the exhibit but
we agree with the right of the artist and the cultural institution to put that
forward to the public."…
"I think there
is a serious problem today in the world that has nothing to do with this
opera," the mayor said.
anti-Semitism problem in this world today, particularly in Western Europe, that
worries me greatly. That's where my focus is. I don't think an opera is what
the focal point should be right now."
thing I know about the opera is that the Metropolitan Opera has a right to show
it," he said.
That’s rich, coming from a politician who
hankers after the power to squelch freedom of speech, and who really isn’t for
a “free society” at all. And it’s evidence of his cluelessness, one shared with
countless others about government-subsidized “art,” that he can claim that the
Met has a “right” to force taxpayers to fund any kind of propaganda, which is
what Klinghoffer is.
Excuse me, Bill, but the Met would have a “right”
to show Klinghoffer if it were
completely privately funded, and even then it would raise issues. But it isn’t
completely privately funded by donors; it’s funded in large part by government money,
that is, taxpayer money. Institutions that receive a single cent from the government
to push rubbish like Klinghoffer to
the forefront of “culture” do not have
“freedom of speech” rights. Taxpayers, who had no choice in the matter,
however, do have a right to protest such “art” and to gag its shills and
Further, Klinghoffer is implicitly about Islam. The terrorist protagonists
are Muslims. Islam also believes in “freedom
of speech,” that is, the freedom to censor any critics of Islam – or behead
them, shoot them, hang them, rape them, stone them to death. Islam believes in
free speech, and will tolerate you as long as you don’t talk back.
Daniel Greenfield, in his FrontPage article
of June 3rd, “Should New York Taxpayers
Fund Pro-Terrorism and Anti-Semitism at the The Metropolitan Opera?”, revealed
some interesting facts about the Met:
The Metropolitan Opera has been having serious financial problems. Its
programs regularly mention support from public funds from the New York State
Council on the Arts. Its 2012 report mentions
$500,000 in support from the New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs. The year before that it was $100.000.
website shows six figure funding going to the Metropolitan Opera every year
under General Opera Support. There are also other grants. That means that when
a terrorist screams about the Jews on stage, he’ll be doing it with funding
from New York taxpayers.
Maybe it’s time to put a stop to that.
If the Met wants to promote the murder of 9 percent of the population of
New York City, New Yorkers shouldn’t have to pay for it.
That means eliminating all city and state funding for the Metropolitan
Opera. The most obvious place to start is by killing the annual six-figure New
York State Council on the Arts giveaway.
It’s something that a New York State Senator or Assemblyman can do.
At the Federal level, the Met receives funding from a variety of
agencies, including $1 million from the State
Department and from the usual suspects such as the Department of Education.
Need I say more?
Staging the anti-Semitic The Death of Klinghoffer in the face rising
anti-Semitism around the world is not about “freedom of speech.” It is about the
power to defy all standards of rationality and morality because of political
correctness and an amoral indifference in the ugly, sorry souls of Peter Gelb,
the director, and the whole cast.
isn’t only Leon Klinghoffer who has been shot in the head and tossed overboard.
It is the American public and in particular, New Yorkers.
0 Comments ::
:: Monday, October 20, 2014 ::
A Lame Duck’s Lethal Legacies
Posted by Edward Cline at 2:06 PM
I don’t think any readers need a refresher
lesson in the many ways President Barack Obama has strived to “transform”
America, beginning with his first day in office in 2008. His latest action is
the appointment of a Muslim of The University of Memphis’ Leadership Education
and Development (LEAD) program. Graduate Fatima Noor has been appointed special
assistant in the Office of the Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services in the Department of Homeland Security. Before
It’s News on August 31st reported:
She majored in
psychology with minors in Spanish and international relations. She recently
completed a month-long research fellowship in psychology hosted by
Carnegie-Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh; her research will be ongoing
for this program. Noor was a leader in many honor societies at the U of M. She
has done volunteer work with World Relief Memphis and the Tennessee Immigrant
and Refugee Rights Coalition.
What a perfect choice to help accelerate
the colonization of America with Muslims (do you really think she’s going to
advocate increasing the immigration of Caucasian Danes, Britons, Frenchmen,
Germans and so on into the U.S.?), and, because she “minored” in Spanish,
advocate the further relaxation of the immigration rules for illegal aliens
from south of the border.
The latest administration tactic has been a
refusal to enact a travel ban from countries stricken with Ebola, which, in
deliberate defiance of all rational medical advice (and in conscious violation
of his oath
of office to protect the U.S.), will increase the probability of the beginning
of an epidemic of the disease in this country. Reuters
reported on October 18th:
Obama made plain he
is not currently planning to give in to demands from some lawmakers for a ban
on travelers from the worst-hit countries.
"We can't just
cut ourselves off from West Africa," Obama said in his weekly radio
address. "Trying to seal off an entire region of the world - if that were
even possible - could actually make the situation worse," he said.
The worst Ebola
outbreak on record has killed more than 4,500 people, most of them in the West
African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
How isolating Liberia, Sierra Leone, and
Guinea will make things worse, Obama would be at a loss to explain. Just as his
choice for an “Ebola” czar, Ron Klain, would not be able to, either. The
Washington Post reported on October 17th:
President Obama has
Klain, who served as chief of staff to both Vice President Biden and former
vice president Al Gore, as his Ebola response
coordinator, according to a White House official. "He will report
directly to the president’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, and the
president's national security adviser, Susan Rice, as he ensures that efforts
to protect the American people by detecting, isolating and treating Ebola
patients in this country are properly integrated but don’t distract from the
aggressive commitment to stopping Ebola at the source in West Africa," a
White House official wrote in an e-mail.
Klain, 53, is a
longtime Democratic operative who served as Biden's chief of staff from 2009 to
2011 and as Gore's from 1995 to 1999. He helped oversee the Democratic side in
the 2000 presidential election recount as its lead lawyer, a role that Kevin
Spacey portrayed in the HBO film "Recount."
President Barack Obama announced that he would be appointing Ron Klain as an
additional Ebola czar (he already had one before today). If Ron Klain sounds familiar
to you, it’s because he has a long political pedigree. He has no medical,
scientific, or federal agency administrative expertise, but he has a whole lot
of political experience.
In January of 2011,
Klain stepped down as chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden. Before that,
Ron Klain was a well-connected Washington lobbyist. According to Senate
lobbying disclosure records, Klain’s clients included Fannie Mae, U.S. Airways,
Time Warner, CIGNA, and Imclone.
Klain also worked
as chief of staff for former Vice President Al Gore, Janet Reno, the Senate
Democratic Leadership Committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that’s
not all! Ron Klain did debate prep for both Obama and former president Bill
Clinton. And if that weren’t enough, Klain was also general counsel of Al
Gore’s election recount committee in 2000.
No one should be surprised that a career
Democratic wonk, with no medical background except perhaps to take Tylenol or a
cold medicine, would be appointed the “Ebola response coordinator.” This is
tantamount to appointing gaffe-happy Vice President Joe Biden to manage a
linear accelerator program or as an assistant Attorney General in the
Department of Justice. Well, the latter might actually work out, given Eric
Holder’s reign of lawlessness in that agency.
Despite no official action from the president ahead of the election, the
Obama administration has quietly begun preparing to issue millions of work
authorization permits, suggesting the implementation of a large-scale executive
amnesty may have already begun.
Unnoticed until now, a draft
solicitation for bids issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS) Oct. 6 says potential vendors must be capable of handling a “surge”
scenario of 9 million id cards in one year “to support possible future
immigration reform initiative requirements.”
The request for proposals says the agency will need a minimum of four
million cards per year. In the “surge,” scenario in 2016, the agency would need
an additional five million cards – more than double the baseline annual amount
for a total of 9 million. “The
guaranteed minimum for each ordering period is 4,000,000 cards. The estimated
maximum for the entire contract is 34,000,000 cards,” the document
This is an “open borders” policy for not
only illegal aliens, but for the Ebola virus. In response to a
Rule of Reason reader’s confusion over why many white America and British
females abruptly convert to Islam and express a wish to enlist in ISIS’s
campaign of terror, rape, looting, and conquest, and how Leftists and so-called
“feminists” are blind or indifferent to the ideological conflicts between Islam
and the Left, I replied:
The king of
anti-white culture is, of course, Obama. There is no other credible motive for
or purpose to his vicious policy of open borders to Mexicans, South Americans,
Somalians, Muslims of every ethic variety, but to dissolve “white” culture.
That makes him the supreme racist. He has expressed indifference to the plight
of the Yazidis, because they’re “sort of white,” and has said little or nothing
about the ISIS policy of raping their women and killing their men. The Yazidis
are, I’m certain, as bonkers about their religion as Muslims are about theirs.
But they are truly a minority not really declaring jihad against all
non-Yazidis. However, no one is brave enough to state in public that Obama is a
racist, as much of one was Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Louis Farrakhan (or Al
Sharpton, a frequent visitor to the White House, and Jesse Jackson).
The whole Progressive agenda, birthed by and in lockstep with that policy, is
also anti-white, anti-European, anti-West. Aged former-leftists, like David
Horowitz, were “red diaper babies.” They’re the neo-cons now, siding with
“patriotic” religionists and other parties (including much of the Tea Party).
Their younger brethren are still leftists, but I call them the “Pampers
Babies,” raised by liberal and left-leaning parents from the 1950’s onward, and
suitably brainwashed or at least lobotomized in their critical faculties in
their college years by professors and academics who took their cues from the
Frankfurt School and other, virulent, imported cultural philosophies.
(Parenthetically, this importation of those bad ideas to America began a bit
after the Civil War, when Americans returned from their education, especially
what they picked up in Germany.)
So, they’re not going to look askance at the rape culture of Islam – that would
be “cultural imperialism” or the like – but will natter on about the alleged
campus “rape culture.” That’s what they’ve been taught. They’re virtually
reason-proof. The verities of political correctness, as far as their stunted
minds are concerned, are engraved in stone. And, of course, a “rape culture”
can’t be pinned on anyone but males, especially white males. Blacks are largely
exempt from the charge, even though blacks have committed the most horrific crimes
against white males and females. Those crimes get little or no media coverage.
To report on them risks the charge of “racism.”
The violation of their principles by Islam bothers them not a whit, because to
criticize Islam on that point would also be seen as Western hubris and
Bad ideas – and especially bad ideas imparted by parents and schools – can work
their insidious ways into the minds of the young. They’re mostly defenseless.
Many of them grow up to be passive yeah-sayers to every and any altruist idea
(aka Leftist), or become activists of one stripe or another. They’re like the
Muslims who protest their innocence regarding the atrocities committed by their
activist coreligionist jihadists; they don’t commit the crimes, but don’t
object to their being committed either, their protestations that ISIS et al.
have nothing to do with Islam to the contrary notwithstanding.
For example, celebrating Columbus Day is
slowly being tossed into the memory hole of political correctness. In his
Capitalism Magazine article of October 12th, “Let’s
Take Back Columbus Day,” Thomas Bowden noted:
however, an embarrassed, guilty silence descends on the nation each Columbus
Day. We’ve been taught that Columbus opened the way for rapacious European
settlers to unleash a stream of horrors on a virgin continent: slavery, racism,
warfare, epidemic, and the cruel oppression of Indians.
view of Columbus represents an unjust attack upon both our country and the
civilization that made it possible. Western civilization did not originate
slavery, racism, warfare, or disease–but with America as its exemplar, that
civilization created the antidotes. How? By means of a set of core ideas that
set Western civilization apart from all others: reason and individualism.
Demonstrating how virulent by unnoticed accretion
Progressive ideas can be as they poison America, Seattle Portland, OR, and Minneapolis
have renamed Columbus Day “Indigenous People’s Day,” referring to North American
Indians, who before Columbus discovered America or brought the continent to
European attention, lived in a state of primitive barbarism and stagnation. A
CNN report of October 13th reports:
Columbus Day often
brings to mind the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. This Monday, some
cities and states would rather you think of the Sioux, the Suquamish and the
Chippewa. For the first time this year, Seattle and Minneapolis will recognize
the second Monday in October as "Indigenous People's Day." The cities
join a growing list of jurisdictions choosing to shift the holiday's focus from
Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their
The Seattle City
Council voted last week to reinvent the holiday to celebrate
"the thriving cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples in our
region." The Minneapolis City Council approved a similar measure in April "to reflect upon
the ongoing struggles of Indigenous people on this land, and to celebrate the
thriving culture and value that Dakota, Ojibwa and other indigenous nations add
to our city."
The Romans likewise “discovered” the
British Isles and brought civilization to it. The indigenous peoples there were
the Iceni and a few dozen other Celtic tribes,
who similarly lived in primitive barbarity. I doubt a “Boadicea Day” is celebrated in Britain.
(Although the Iceni
queen was once honored on British coinage, and there is a statue of her
near the Houses of Parliament.)
So, as the Obama Administration winds down
in terms of the calendar, one can be certain that he will stick his “transformation”
agenda with more outrageous executive actions, bypassing Congress and in effect
flipping off Americans and this country.
Muslims and illegals aren’t the only ones
seeking to invest and conquer our country. Look to the man in the White House. If
there is any justice, his legacy name should be "President Pathogen,"
the pathogens being both human and bacteriological.
2 Comments ::