Viewing posts tagged art

Piece of Cake

Someone nice on tumblr just asked me:

Do you think that it's fair to criticize a work of art for the failings of the culture around it? This is a question I've been mulling over the past few days and I'm sure you have an interesting response.

My answer got a bit long, so I decided - opportunistically - to post it here.


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I think the terms of the question are worth investigating.

What do we mean by 'failings'?

What do we mean by 'culture around it'?

Failure is, of course, subjectively judged.  Something I think is bad may be seen as good - or neutral, or normal, or inescapable - by others.

It is perfectly possible for something that is a 'failure' with regards to general human wellbeing to be a 'success' for a social system.  (The wellbeing of the working class, in any class society, always being more universal than that of the minority loafing class.)

Indeed, I think that if you look at the vast majority of mainstream media culture as it has existed in modern capitalist society - including and perhaps even especially with reference to narrative culture - then you see that it pretty unambiguously touts ...

22

The Doctor, Romana and Duggan have found a painting hidden behind a panel in the basement of Count Scarlioni's house in Paris.

"It's the Mona Lisa!" says the Doctor.

"Must be a fake," replies Duggan.

The Doctor says he doesn't know what's currently hanging in the Louvre, "but this is the genuine article".

Duggan's astonishment increases when the Doctor folds back yet more panelling to reveal yet another Mona Lisa.  And another.  And another.  Eventually, six identical copies are revealed.

"They must be fakes," says Duggan again.

"The brushwork's Leonardo's," the Doctor asserts, "It's as characteristic as a signature. The pigment, too."

"What," blithers Duggan, "on all of them?"

"What I don't understand is why a man who's got six Mona Lisas wants to go to all the trouble of stealing a seventh."  (The Count has been casing the Louvre, preparing to steal their Mona Lisa.)

This is Duggan's area.  "Come on, Doctor, I've just told you. There are seven people who would buy the Mona Lisa in secret, but nobody's going to buy the Mona Lisa when it's hanging in ...

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