I have been reading about the development of art in the West, from premodernism through modernism to today’s postmodernism and it has been both rewarding, confusing and shocking in fairly equal measures.
What struck me most in my readings has the way that artists have variously treated the matter of sex since the end of modernism in the late sixties. At least that is the date the cognoscenti claim and I admit to being surprised by that.
Alternative sexualities and fetishes have been pretty much worked over in the twentieth century. Until recently visual art has not explored sex involving children. Eric Fischl’s ‘Sleepwalker’* shows a pubescent boy masturbating in a backyard kiddy paddling pool. The same artist’s ‘Bad Boy’* shows a boy stealing from his mother’s purse while looking at his naked mother sleeping with legs wide apart.
Perhaps those familiar with Freud might not find that too shocking but it will certainly appeal to some members of PIE or many of the charities and NGO’s we have been reading about lately.
But for a glimpse of the pit into which postmodernism in art has taken me at least, consider Paul McCarthy’s (sic) ‘Cultural Gothic’* and it’s theme not just of child sex but bestiality. It is a life-size, moving exhibit, in which a young boy stands behind a goat which he is humping. Here there is more than simple child sexuality and sex with animals however. McCarthy adds cultural commentary by having the father present, resting his hands paternally on the boy’s shoulders while his son humps away.
I could go on, but perhaps I have gone too far already.
I am amazed at this assault on every value and code of decency in Western civilisation. There are people who, thanks to what our universities have become, not only take this seriously (as I most certainly do too though for different reasons) but actually promote this debasement of thought and morals in an onslaught on tradition. For this is what the function of postmodernism appears to this uneducated critic to be.
To take just one often overlooked trend in today’s England. Have you noticed a definite coarsening in our everyday lives? The free use, and in public, of obscenities in normal speech, particularly by women and children? Only an hour or so ago I was deleted from a Guardian thread for criticising, strictly in context, a poster’s grammar and suggesting English might not be his first language. ZAP!! I dared to question someone who only MIGHT be a member of a minority. Yet the threads of Komment Macht Frei are peppered with F and C words, that linger like crude tattoos for the life of the thread. Even when I pointed this out I was again deleted.
Trivial? After all, does not everyone speak like that these day? Even members of the Royal Family are heard to curse. The media is awash with this sort of language. No I do not believe it is trivial. Is not litter and graffiti an obscenity? The failure to enforce laws? The toleration of low level crime? It is all part of destruction of the English way of life, its culture, its history, in this form dating certainly from the collapse of Russian socialism and the need for Marxism to shift its shape. Linked also to the rise of largely French intellectual post war thought, Sartre, Foucault, Derrida whose destructive nonsense has been so scathingly attacked by the conservative thinker Roger Scruton.
I had not realised until recently just how deep this decay has penetrated all of our institutions, from the Church to the universities
, to the media to politics and the police. Even the army is being feminised. And it has all happened in the space of my lifetime, much of it since 1997.
* those asterisks indicate the works that can be accessed and viewed in the usual way. They come with a strong warning.