Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Get the New Art! With 71% More Transgressive!

I see Madonna has a new tour ongoing, in which she wears S&M gear, feigns being Christ on the cross, and whips men wearing horsey gear.


Wanna dunk a huge crucifix upside down in dung & urine? Sorry, it’s been done. How ’bout you make an image of the Virgin Mary out of shit? That’ll scare the rubes. That’s been done too? Hmmmm… Okay. How ’bout pictures of people with whips up their asses. (NSFW). Sorry, that’s been done too? Hmmm… this is getting hard.

Okay, I got it. We’ll have a film of some gay guy getting slammed by his buddy, and while that’s going on, the wide receiver in this little game of catch will sing the Star Spangled Banner as a brilliant, artistic slam on President Bush. Oh, sorry, forgot. That’s been done too. Um, okay, how ’bout we have sex with holy communion, pay prostitutes to stamp on the rosary beads, and dare God to strike us down? Now that will be a work of art, right? Sadly, it’s been done. A long time ago. It’s not new.

The idea that art is only worthy if it transgresses some perceived social norm is something the elites have foisted on us for a long time.

Leftist critical theory – specifically Marcuse and Gramsci – tells us we need to champion the outlaw over the cop, the prostitute over the priest, the profane over the reverent. In this way the existing social order may be destroyed, and some new Rousseauian Natural Man utopia created. Thing is, this wasn’t new to leftism, leftism was instead the embodiment of a lot of older bad thinking by half bright drunks and malcontents. Prior levelers are often called crypto-marxists, but if you really dig around, you discover that these early communists – dating back to around the 12th century AD or earlier – were basically either lunatics, malcontents, con-men, or crazed millenarians. Modern Marxism just put an industrial age glow on the whole anti-civilizational philosophy of the diggers and levellers and others of their ilk.

As a result, the triumph of leftism in our schools and other social institutions has resulted in an attempt to undermine what have long been believed to be objective standards of beauty and truth in representation, in the mimetic process by which art describes something in the real world. The turning of art’s purposes to the destruction of civilization, first by destroying the standards that governed art, then by attacking social norms and the fabric of society itself, has coincided with a sharp decline in interest in fine art.

The declining audience for contemporary art (along with America’s surprising adherence to religious faith in one form or another) tells you that we ordinary joes have pretty much stopped buying the whole “artist as transgressive rebel” routine. Sure, the black turtleneck crowd pretends to buy it (I hope they are only pretending – God, can they be that stupid) but nobody else even feigns interest in high art, except for the old classics which use an artistic vernacular still popular and current in the public’s collective mind. It is not a shock to me that Van Gogh and Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci and the Impressionists are massively popular while most current artists starve; their stuff isn’t loved because it doesn’t use an intelligible language. While earlier art can be classified by the manner it which it symbolizes reality – a language of semiotics – current art is an unintelligible babble, the equivalent of a one year-old’s gutural burbling. It’s not good because there isn’t any discourse in it, just the venting of immature emotional outbursts using the visual equivalent of grunts and screams. The artists not only don’t know the older language of art (and hence can’t even play off of it effectively) but they lack the ability to conform their outbursts to that language. It’s just not shocking any more to see the equivalent of a primal howl on canvas or in film or sculpture, and in fact, it’s kind of lame. When nothing is sacred, when there are no objective (and subjectively enforced) standards, the profane itself lacks meaning, and the innovative itself cannot appear innovative because there is no norm against which to measure the artist’s creativity.

The only people who don’t get this, seemingly, are the artists. Maybe the black turtleneck crowd has its reasons for cheering on the art-eests – leftist theory, being members of a club nobody else is members of, better quality cheese at gallery openings than at NASCAR events, whatever. But none of the rest of us have any reason to cheer. Granted, life isn’t a popularity contest. But when *everybody* hates you except for a couple clove cigarette smoking jackasses who tell you they suffer from ennui, then perhaps it’s time to stop and question your direction in life.

The sad thing is for a lot of people, when this smut – I have nothing against smut per se but let’s call so-called art what it is, smut – gets passed off as high culture, the ordinary people have no reason to give notice to any art. The classics are downed by the elites as passe, while the ordinary folk look at modern art extolled by the elites, and see no merit it in it. Art thus winds up a writeoff. They lose interest in looking for anything beautiful or fine in life. The ability to desire the extraordinary and the transcendant is taken away from them. The artists, really, have a lot to answer for.

The terrible irony here is that artsy-fartsy types are only to glad to go around calling all the rest of us hypocrites and unschooled ignoramuses who wouldn’t know a Rubens if it bit us in our ample butts. Yet at the heart of this art-scorn is the artists’ (and elite’s) foolish pursuit of gutter fancies as high art. Time was, shit went into an outhouse or a chamber pot. Feces were something you buried, or threw out. Now crap is considered high culture.

I think this explains why our museums are not crowded places. Except when old classics go on display.

Madonna isn’t to blame here. She’s a symptom of it. I look at her – she is a magnificent performer – and wonder what she might have done if she wasn’t caught up in the nihilists’ world view.

[Update: On the other hand, Emperor Misha, if you dare read him, has an idea for some performance art that actually would be transgressive with respect to both elitist notions of art and established conservative religion, which would surely generate, um, energetic reactions from the target audience. Nice doggie, Misha. Nice doggie.]

[Update: Our friend Lastango at Bill Quick’s place is similarly inspired. Yes, Lastango – that performance would be one for the ages. Probably her last, but pretty epic.]


64 thoughts on “Get the New Art! With 71% More Transgressive!

  1. The 29%ers are getting their knickers into a twist again… Watch them soiling their diapers.

    Lol. I’ve seen less whining at my daughter’s daycare. Selection election trauma is a terrible thing.

    I think you guys mean the 51%ers, as in the majority of the nation that did not vote for your loserass moron traitor of a candidate.

    They are — rightly — afraid of their own shadow. It is indeed very ugly: the shadow is racist, bigoted, xenophobic, poorly educated, stupid, mean-spirited, and cowardly.

    Gosh, you’d think people like that would be easier to beat in an election, wouldn’t they? The person that could lose to a person like that would have to completely suck.

    Oh well. Better luck next time.

    But that’ll make a great slogan!!

    “Vote Democrat!! We’re not racist, bigoted, xenophobic, poorly educated, stupid, mean-spirited, and cowardly morons…like you.”

    That’s a winner, that is. Good luck with that.

    But cheer up, you guys. I mean, there’s always rage. Right? Lol.

    Better make your psychiatrist appointments now, fellas; they may get booked up pretty quick at the rate you guys are going.


  2. Randy, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    Ask anyone who was alive at the time and they’ll tell you, Hitler was on the far right of the political spectrum. You cling to the use of the word socialist in Nazi like a drowning man clutching at straws.

    Fascism, by definition, is a conservative political structure. Ask the guys who invented it (e.g. Mussolini, Hitler, Franco).

    Basilisk … was I somehow incorrect? Is that how I embarrassed myself?

    It would seem that I am factually accurate when I pointed out the obvious errors made in describing the works of art involved.

    Now who’s head is up their ass Basilisk?

    Don’t worry … there’s plenty of conservative “art” for you low brows to appreciate … Toby Keith, customized 4X4s, Arno Breker …

    Arlan, you mean like Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Vincent Gogan? Lowbrow artists like these individuals? ::GASP:: Wow, I may even sing to admitting I like Da Vinci and Pierre Auguste Renoir! I even dabble around looking at Vincent Van Gogh and Heironymus Bosch as I mentioned earlier! I admit it’s not as esily viewed as your “Elvis on Black Velvet” or “Dogs playing Poker” that you have on the living room wall spotlighted and framed in Chromecraft!

  3. “I’m sorry, did you just describe Madonna as an artist and equate her with Maplethorpe? Wow.”

    I have to agree here, Madonna has much more talent than Maplethorpe could ever hope to have. Her flaw is that she doesn’t trust in her talent enough, and so insists on stunting and pranks. She thinks she needs to play to a certain part of the population to be validated as an artist. By prostituting herself to a certain type of popularity she sells out her art and ruins any chance she may have of making any lasting impact.

  4. “The right is angry. Angry, angry, angry.”

    David, the site is called “Cold Fury”. Were you actually expecting a cuddle from a place with that name?

    Angry? Perhaps.
    Stark raving staring mad-as-a-coot bat-guano insane like the left? No.

    And since you don’t understand what a snarky comment is, I’ll also add ‘dumb as a box of rocks’ to the description of the left.

  5. I was going to criticize some other points in your post, but then I read, “Van Gogh and Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci and the Impressionists”.


    No kiddin’? I’d have never guessed! Thank you very much for sharing this salient, but patently obvious fact. I guess we just heard from another “Elvis on Black Velvet” owner!

  6. Mikey, et. al.:

    *sigh* I’m starting to feel like I’m wasting my time. Did anyone actually want to address the points I made, or are we just going to trade insults?

    Can one of you super-enlightened humans define for me what is or is not art?

  7. Gee, David, I’m guessing you must have a definition of art in your hip pocket, with that chestnut. Rather than parrot Aristotle’s definition or anybody else’s unsuccessful attempt to define art, I’ll offer my own unsuccessful definition: Modes of (usually) indirect communication in using a comprehensible vocabulary linking sign to signified, aimed not at conveying facts in a literal manner but instead using the mimetic process to convey information, thoughts, emotion, or facts; an elliptical method of communication that sometimes conveys information more efficiently and with greater meaning than straightforward textual or visual representations of the same material.

    Yep, I know, that definition can be shot full of holes by application to particular instances.

    Or as Potter Stewart might say, it really can’t be defined, but you nows it when you sees it. The difference between good and bad art is a little less difficult to define in that it has to consist of reasonably proficiently executed technique (or effectively poorly-executed technique) sufficient to convey information effectively by mimesis. Much art – some within the traditional school and some abstract postmodern stuff is unintentionally badly executed, and the “artists speaking to artists” trope means that it doesn’t really fit into the “effective communications by mimesis” model because the “language” used is so narrow and specific that it is closer to the babble spoken by many twins between themselves – a language of their own – prior to learning a language comprehensible to others.

  8. Eureka! The clouds have parted!

    Have a good weekend, guys. I’ll be at a museum on Sunday, so I’ll print Al’s response and carry it with me. If I see a work of “art” I suspect might be “bad”, I’ll break it out and apply his criteria. Thanks to Al, I’ll be able to tell “good art” from “bad art.” Thank you, Al.

    Or maybe, if I see a work I don’t care for, I’ll just shrug and move on, and not assume it’s indicative of the degradation and ruination of western culture.

  9. Oh, you wanted a conversation? It appeared to me you were only interested in lecturing the ignorant rubes, but OK, David, I’ll play.

    Here’s a news flash! Just cause you don’t like it doesn’t make it not art! (For the record, art-lovers, I don’t much care for these works either)

    Just because you’re willing to put mustard on a shit sandwich and call it food doesn’t make it edible. Here’s a news flash for you! Just because a few untalented critics and phonies do like something and want to pretend it’s art doesn’t make it art, either! And some other things that don’t make it art:

    1) Shock value/”daring” statements
    2) Insulting the values/religion/heritage/culture of others
    3) Pimping by the “cultural elite”

    The buffoons, clowns, and freak shows that comprise today’s “art” scene are stuck in the 60’s Pop Art cleverness, the surface reflection of a common culture that is certainly common but devoid of culture.

    You want a definition? Real art will still be appreciated in a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand years. Fifty years from now, this crap will be long forgotten.

  10. To put my thought’s succinctly, don’t take a “Hustler” beavershot and try to tell me it’s a Renoire…..

    If a person want’s to call a collection of Garbage art, then fine, just don’t try to convince me that the shock value offers anything long term to our culture other than a sense of embarrasment when the people 100 or more years from now say to themselves “What the hell was he thinking when he (or she!) did that piece of crap?”

  11. David, have a nice weekend at the art galleries. Do yourself a favor though and get some lubricant. With all that mental masturbation, you might get a brain blister.

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