This idea was furthered by Richard Wagner is his wonderful autobiography, My Life:
I insisted upon attaching an importance to the artistic destiny of mankind which far transcended the mere aims of citizenship.
We need this perspective. For a nation to be great, it needs more than economic success. It needs more than technological advancement. And it needs more than sensual passion.
It needs an art form that elevates humanity – one that expresses a universal life essence. It could be a three-act play that brings a grown man to tears. It could be an overture that inspires a young man to rise up and chase his dream with relentless fervor. Or it could be an epic poem, filling the classrooms of a nation with ethereal bliss.
Art is culture. And without a wonderful display of human expression, no nation can every call itself an EMPIRE.
I came across the following painting – I don’t know the author or the name of it. However, it’s an important work nonetheless. The painting celebrates a universal life essence – the beauty of a happy American family.
What is art? It’s the expression of your inner self. So nothing beautiful can emerge from an individual that’s broken. Garbage in, garbage out. We’ve been too lax on this point. For art is not a subjective choice, bereft of meaning. It promulgates the virtuous victory of a people. It champions the noble virtues of a nation. We need to locate the beauty giants of our culture, allowing them to present our passion to the world.
By contrast, let’s look at postmodern art. This “movement” can best be illustrated by its most famous work: “Fountain” by Marcel Duchamp.
As you can see, these matters are beyond style and form. They speak to something deeper. Something that emanates – or does not emanate – from the soul of a man. Something that burns, or fails to burn, within the essence of his character.
A country needs more than a strong economy (although that’s important). It needs a WELTANSCHAUUNG. We get this worldview from an art community that celebrates the noble…one that dwells in the soil of success.
“The true artist finds delight not only in the aim of his creation, but also in the very process of creation, in the handling and moulding of his material. The very act of production is to him a gladsome, satisfying activity…”
So what is the artist…very simple! Like Wagner said, the “true artist” is a man that delights in the process of creation. His poetry is the reflection of a lofty soul; his opera is the heroism of an UberMan. His canvas is the infinite imagination.
The great artist is a GREAT MAN. He is Bach, Beethoven and Shakespeare. By his work, he affirms the summit of human potential. Generations pay tribute to his art: they visit the house that he was born, the bed in which he slept, etc. His life history will become a source of inspiration.
And what of the journeyman? The degenerate postmodern. The huckster of socialism, communism and feminism. The money-grubbing hack!
Wagner spells that out for us:
“The journeyman reckons only the goal of his labour, the profit which his toil shall bring him; the energy which he expends, gives him no pleasure…he is never present with his work in spirit, but always looking beyond it to its goal…”
The journeyman is a prostitute. He does the art for money – not for love. Don’t be confused by the momentary success…by the applause that he gains from a corrupted press. He’ll be forgotten soon enough! When his job is done, he’ll be cast in the fires of anonymity.
2.) It exalts a noble cause(s): i.e. the family, military sacrifice, etc.
3.) It blends nature and humanity together in a creative way
By contrast, here we have a bad piece of art:
The painting is bad for the opposite reasons:
1.) Nobody can understand the meaning
2.) It lacks a noble cause
3.) It fails to blend nature and humanity together in a creative way
Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” In short, the two things have nothing in common. They’re diametrically opposite.
The same is true for great and bad art – the fundamental difference is profound. And learning to spot the difference is crucial. If you can spot a great work of art, your spirit will be sanctified. You’ll have a road map to the noble life. You’ll find a kinship with the heights of human emotion.
But if you put your faith in bad art, you’ll become lost. You’ll be lacking in a Weltanschauung. You’ll be alienated by the trickster. Your soul an empty cup…waiting to receive the poison.