Art For Art's Sake and Style for God's Sake


Styles cannot be affected where they are not sought in advance. The problem in finding an overarching narrative by which to guide the reader along some path is that, when there arrives a moment when something of distinction might be learned in the fluid music of words, it is already rendered ineffectual by the vehicles through which it was communicated, for the play of concepts and narrative forces all too often speak as a seducer. It is the very nature of seduction which puts the seducee immediately on edge. There is the faith that something good will come out of the seduction while the intentions in delivering it through such non immediate means compromise one’s ability to submit to its integrity. All of ‘art for art’s sake’ is born from this contingency. A highly codified and mostly intuited sense of ‘beauty’ takes both longer to hypostasize and longer to dissolve, in contradistinction to the values being espoused on the entirely discursive narrative path of the work, which is to say, simply, it’s ‘political message.’ ‘Art for art’s sake’ is, as much as anything else, a sense of timidity concerning its own underlying cultural memes, with conscious irony. It is not surprising that novels which have stood up well as ‘art for art’s sake’ have survived in the west and have been adopted not only into the cannon of literature, but into the avaricious hands of particular parties wishing to be validified, somehow, by history. ‘Art for art’s sake’ is a discursive back door. There is also the hidden implication that a desired utopia is given a ‘sneak preview’ when ‘art for art’s sake’ is given free reign with its own set of tools. In such art, the mechanics of politics is completely leapt over in favor of its desired results. One should not be fooled by the artist’s contention that the beautiful hallows the ugly. The ugly subject matter has always hidden within it a germ of the very truth which inspired the whole piece. For instance, a novel in which murder is defined as a ‘liberating’ or ‘Dostoyevskian’ act is often only capable of depicting crime at the hands of a criminal type, for the anomaly of something so removed from polite society gives the reader the freedom to reject that depicted murder on their terms—sometimes on account of its eloquent style! The eloquence of style, where it is attached to bourgeois values, no matter how grotesque the actual ‘content,’ will always yank the reader back into this world despite the intentions of the author. Being yanked into ‘this’ world is the final desire of a much more decadent aim of the writer—to make the grotesque norm of the potential ‘tomorrow’ palpable to the mind of now. Since this is only a subterraneous intention, the writer may not be aware of his doing it.