Art & Politics

By GotDesign
This past weekend, my wife and I attended the St. James Court Art Festival here in Old Louisville. For those of you who aren't locals, the St. James Court Art Festival is an annual event held in the portion of Old Louisville known (remarkably) as St. James Court. Old Louisville is that part of the downtown area that is dominated by Victorian architecture -- blokcs and blocks of three-story brownstones. The festival showcases various arts and crafts from all over the United States and Canada -- photography, paintings, jewelry, crafts, etc.

As I walked around St. James Court, I couldn't help but notice the vast numbers of people sporting Kerry-Edwards stockers on their clothing. I would guess that the Kerry-Edwards stockers outnumbered the Bush-Chenney stickers by as much as three-to-one. I began thinking about why the arts community is so predominantly liberal, even leftist. Many liberals feel (and that's a significant word -- "feel") that the arts are their exclusive domain. That, somehow, familiarity with the arts makes them superior to others. I started wondering what this says about liberals.

The liberal's love of the arts belies their desire for a level of sophistication that raises them above the average masses. Sophistication is another interesting word. It's root is "Sophist" -- relating to the mode of thought offered by early Greek philosphers and teachers. Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, all universally considered masters of reason and logic, held that the Sophists'' logic was flaw and specious. They all suggested and then proved that the Sophists made arguments that were based on false assumptions and faulty reasoning, and did so for personal gain. So why should liberals want to pursue flawed and faulty thinking? For the same reason the Sophists did -- to "feel" superior to others and for personal gain.

Another reason for the liberal's pursuit of the arts is that, due to his/her new-found "sophistication," it holds the liberal apart from society. This separation, this eliteness, puts the liberal in a position (in his/her own mind) to make "informed" decisions about how society should conform to this new enlightened ideal. Frank Herbert (author of the Dune series of novels) said in his novel, and I'm paraphrasing, that Liberals are an aspiring aristocracy. While some would cast aspersion on Mr. Herbert because he predominantly wrote in the Science Fiction genre, but his works (especially the Dune series of novels) are an extremely complex consideration of all of the dynamics of society. And while I think he completely missed the mark in regard to religion, he was nearly spot-on in the realm of politics and social dynamics.

If liberals claim political power as a result of their social aristocracy, they become a political aristocracy who feel entitled to their position. They then will begin to reshape society "in their own image." Suddenly, the forces that drive society and economics are artificially changed to conform to the new ideal. What has previously been established through impirical method (business and economics) is being replaced by "what should be," what is "fair and just," as determined by the new elites.

I'm a conservative. I love art. I am a graphic designer, a photographer -- an artist. But I known that my understanding and appreciation of the arts is just another collection of personal knowledge and preferences. The politics of art is a murky field. Some say the arts exalt the soul, they better mankind. But this is sophistry. Richard Wagner revolutionized modern opera, but he was also one of Adolph Hitler's greatest supporters. I don't see his advanced knowledged of music and art enlightening his soul. Syndicated radio personality Dennis Prager has spoken (and written?) on several ocassions about the relationships between art and politics. If I can find his writings on this subject, I will link to them.

I guess my point is this. The arts are one of those jewels of humanity. Like the changing leaves of Fall. They make the world a wonderful place to live but, in the end, that's all the arts are -- a cultural decoration.

Just my two cents.

7 comments so far.

  1. Anonymous 3:05 PM
    Love your site...

    Isn't it called The St James Art Fair? Being from here, I never heard anyone call it the St John's Art Fair...
  2. GotDesign 3:17 PM
    Thanks, Anonymous. You're right. I've edited and reposted it.
  3. Anonymous 3:21 PM
    Great observations you have made. I attended an arts and crafts show last Sunday in Newport News, Virginia which had a turnout of several thousand people. But I noticed the exact opposite. The people with Bush/Cheney stickers outnumbered the Kerry/Edwards crowd three-to-one. I kept thinking to myself how could this could be? I was expecting the opposite. The Kerry/Edwards tent actually had more people pushing the stickers than the Bush/Cheney tent. Maybe it is just the area I live in... *shrug*
  4. GreatBlueWhale 6:32 PM
    Great article. I agree with your observation, but call attention to the "atmosphere" in the Highlands and Old Louisville. Very hip, very counter-culteral, or at least they think so. Birds of a feather and all that. Go to the Farmers Market on Bardstown Road and you'll see the same thing.
    The air of superiority I could stand, if it weren't almost always accompanied by the smug patronization with its implied, "There, there. Don't try to think for yourself, you really aren't capable of it. Just let us take care of it for your own good."
    Congrats on being one of Hugh's Blogs of the Month. Looking forward to more.
  5. GotDesign 8:24 AM
    One thing that exasperates me most is that, when you offer substantive debate or rejoinder, more often than not, all you get in reply is an overly emotional retort. Someone recently questioned my comments about President Bush's plan for his next term by saying I must have a lot of faith and that I must also believe in Santa Claus. Neither statement, in any way, refuted what I said about the President's plan. So, not only do they feel superior, but so much so that coherent, intelligent argument is for morons. But we know better.
  6. Anonymous 9:42 AM
    To the earlier post Re: the opposite being noted in Newport News, Virginia - isn't Newport News near a naval base? Don't military personnel overwhelmingly support conservative candidates? I think your observation re: the fact that this ocurred near where you live is a comment most appropriately aimed at the demographics of your geographic community, as opposed to the demographics of the arts community. By and large, every arts community I have aver had the job of interacting with has been aristocratically liberal. Just look at who won the Nobel "Prize" for literature this year. (It's an avowed Austrian Communist whose work is little cared for in her own country. She won it for writing a play opposing the war in Iraq. I can't wait to see who wins the "Peace Prize" this year. Since thay can't give it to Arafat again, maybe they'll pick someone like Kim Jung Il.)
  7. GotDesign 3:42 PM
    I think the art festival in Newport News, VA is a bit of an abberation as it is a military town. Louisville is far enough away from Ft. Knox to avoid this phenomenon. So I would agree, to an extent. I think liberals are more likely to go out of their way to attend an art festival because of the way they ennoble art.

    It turns out they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to some government minister in Kenya who is an environmental activist and thinks AIDS was deliberately created as a biological agent. I'll leave it up to others to research this woman. She's too "out there" for me.

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