Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Notes on Uranium Weapons and Kitsch

I read this essay by George Gessert recently. If I could find a free link, I would use it, but I can't. I just hope a fair amount of that money is going to George. I liked the essay. I recommend looking it up through some sort of library database and reading it. It was well-written.

While in class, I tried to attack it by pointing out that even if "kitsch" (and I see that George uses kitsch in a somewhat different way than Wikipedia describes) allows atrocities to happen, does that really place the blame more on the American people, who are distracted by kitsch, than it does on the people actually behind the atrocities? Can we really blame either one? The American people are ignorant dupes, sure, but the leaders of America are basically sociopaths. Neither one has the moral sense of a philosopher, so why does it make any sense to judge them as if they were philosophers? Humans are what they are. That doesn't mean we can't try to change it, though, or point out where humans go wrong. Thus my critique is not really a very good critique -- it's perfectly reasonable and indeed important to point out that Americans live in a fake world of art while much of the rest of the world struggles to survive (hoping to live like Americans do -- in dreamworld).

After leaving the classroom I figured out what I'd really wanted to say: that most art is kitsch, and academic "high" art no less than others. I wish I could respect academics. I like them -- the faculty at my school couldn't be nicer -- but they are too narrow-minded, weak, and specialized to really respect or take seriously. They don't institute change, so why should they complain when the American people don't? They don't necessarily know good policy, and even if they do, they don't run for office to implement it. They think they're smart, but for all their intelligence they can't rise to the top. Or maybe they are at the top, and they're just fucking everything up. Or maybe I'm just an idiot and all my favored policy solutions wouldn't work.

If you know how to fix something, does that give you a moral obligation to try to fix it? If that "moral obligation" doesn't exist, then maybe it should. But I'm betting some "ethicist" will remind me that yes, of course it does, though it exists only because some ethicist feels it should -- it "feels" right. But didn't I just say that such an obligation should exist? Hmm.

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