Once upon a time, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte was considered to crass for the Vienna National Theater because it was in German and dealt with common gods and faeries. Now, most people can't even tell me what an "aria" is, much less have ever seen an opera. At least in my generation, The Who and Frank Zappa wrote "rock" operas and more or less achieved something memorable.
What passes for culture in the West now is little more than "schlock and ooh". "Performers" prance around in tiny "costumes", "singing" repetitive "lyrics" to entrancing bass beats that only just meet the criteria for having rhythm. Furthermore, I can hardly distinguish one "song" from the next. They are all virtually identical, and in the case of DJs, they aren't even original - just digital samples of utter crap.
When Georges Seurat created the art movement of pointilism, he was exploring the qualities of light and vision using the newly discovered properties and physiology of his era. Roy Lichtenstein, though, simply magnified the printing process, which used the pixels pioneered by Seurat, to explode comic book illustrations to enormous proportions. Don't get me wrong, I like Lichtenstein and would happily display his work in my den next to the black velvet dogs playing poker and Elvis portraits, but as art, it hardly qualities as anything other than a quaint addition to kitsch collections.
Don't get me started on Andy Warhol.
I did my art history thesis on Claes Oldenburg's Giant Soft Fan and Henri Matisse's Four Backs. While Oldenburg's piece is an interesting attempt to explode a common item to massive proportions to enhance its design aspects, it is more of a playful exercise than art. Matisse, on the other hand, deconstructs a feminine back across four panels from its organic presentation to its geometric components. This is an interesting study in the mathematics of Life and forces one to examine Nature in a new light.
Today, someone can accidentally drop a pair of glasses on the floor of a "museum" and attract a crowd of awed spectators trying to figure out what state of mind the "artist" was in when "creating" such a piece. Don't believe me? Read the article.
Compare also the grand cathedrals of Europe, or even the highly functional castles, to the glass blocks of today's modern city. The cathedrals defied the massive stone blocks from which they were constructed, soaring far above the viewer's head, and the walls were constructed almost entirely of colored glass windows - art in themselves - that created a floating, other-worldly effect. Combined with an east-west orientation - using the natural surroundings - they even created special effects at certain times of the year, when light streamed through the rose window and struck the nave, causing it to glow eerily in the murky darkness on the interior. Magic and masterpiece!
Few even stop now to consider the magnificent technological achievement of placing a dome on a box using an ingenious device called a pendentive. Nor do they stop to admire the incredible artistry and engineering involved in a cathedral's flying buttresses that keep the walls from flying outward under the strain of their loads.
Can anyone name a work as elevating as the Sistine Chapel or Beethoven's 9th Symphony created in the last 50 years? How about a script as linguistically entrancing as William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette? In fact, has any form of art moved you to tears, or left you breathless, or induced a feeling of elation that was created in the past 30 years?
Nowadays, architecture refers to game engines, the visual arts have been reduced to graphics, music has been debased to little more than a repetitive bass cleft with foul words spewed over it, and performance has devolved to computer generated movement and explosions.
Honestly, when the conversation occasionally turns to discussing the defense of Western culture, I can hardly think of anything in the past two generations worth preserving. Fortunately, the West's greatest achievements are largely available online for everyone to access, but in terms of modern society, I find nothing of value - just a bunch of whiny, unevolved children with no sense of history, art or appreciation for anything outside the lint in their navels.
Oh sure, Donald Trump wants to revitalize America, saving American jobs and American business, but to what end? So we can be abused into consuming more senseless crud from the country's "artists"?
It used to be that business created wealthy people, who in turn used their wealth to endow artists and talented technicians, who then created monumental works for all posterity to enjoy. Instead, we get Bill Gates forcing the world to slime their bodies with vaccines, Elon Musk building fun toys and Puckerberg walling himself into his Hawaiian retreat.
So much for culture.
It's long past time for the West to ask itself what it is fighting for? Without a decent answer, then what's the point?
“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”