On Saturday, my friend, Nick Sternberg, published a piece on Substack called, “Art? Fart”. In it, Nick attributed the superficial travesty of contemporary … uh … fine art to wokeness; although, to his credit, he didn’t call it that. He did, however, write this:
As a function of the culture what we consider to be the Fine Art World is a collection of people and works that are all more or less the same … It’s not their fault. The system models and enforces it. Art education repeats it: You’re a Rebel. You’re Countercultural. You’re special. You’re dismantling the power structure. You’re doing Something Important … And let’s be honest for a moment … if you were to push boundaries of the art world… say, by speaking up as an art educator, questioning the value of leftist ideology in all the major art institutions, or doing something like being (gasp) openly right-wing, or even moderately Not Liberal … you’d be excoriated. Shunned. Done, even.
In short, goose step with the Thought Police, or fuggedaboudit.
Nick’s correct. But what he describes is a symptom of the larger cultural disease. And it’s no accident that before reading Nick’s Substack piece, I’d read this in City Journal: “Bernstein and Brandeis University”. The university’s connection with Bernstein notwithstanding, the article said this, in part:
The Boston Globe reported that Brandeis University would wind down its Ph.D. programs in music by no longer accepting applicants in musicology and composition and theory … [That] tells us something about the state of academia, American culture, and our national character … We ought to care because Brandeis’s decision will legitimize the broader national dethronement of the musical arts and culture as central components of a university’s mission. The axing of a Ph.D. program is just the beginning … It’s a kind of educational deaccessioning, a wholesale destruction and dismantling of core humanities.
That cultural disease is lack of discipline. There are no rules. There is no structure. There is no history to learn. There is no canon to be aware of, let alone to respect or to revere. There can’t be because if there were (the leftists would tell you), it’s the legacy of the Western European white patriarchy. Those dudes (the leftists would tell you) were — and remain — good at only one thing: oppression. And the best weapon against that kind of universal subjugation and domination is, of course, stupidity.
That’s why any semi-literate chucklehead with PreSonus Studio One is now a musician. It’s why any chooch with a brush is now a fine artist. It’s why any clown with a smartphone is now a photographer. And it’s why anyone with a sufficient level of ignorance is now an expert. That’s why discipline is avoided like the plague, research is abandoned, curiosity is taboo, critical thinking is punished, and knowledge is vilified.
The KISS Principle (keep it simple, stupid) is a design principle that suggests designs and/or systems should be kept as simple as possible. That’s so yesterday. We’ve progressed well beyond that now. KISS now stands for keep it stupid, stupid. And if that means we’re even too stupid to keep it simple, who cares? As Nick points out, we have a power structure to dismantle and a culture to homogenize.
I generated the images in the video that follows with AI. I didn’t have to know, learn, or create anything.
What could be more simple — or stupid — than that?