The imperial infants.A baby formula, pablum, to convert sometimes vague, sometimes intense, but always complex emotions into a kind of trouble-free zone, a la-la land of pretend. Kitsch. The temptation. The seduction of idealized desire; to replace a higher and more demanding level of thinking with a kind of charade, to be complicit in a moral conspiracy that obscures and darkens. Kicking the can down the road as they say. A procrastination of the reckoning and succumbing to the pressure of pretending the higher emotions. Kitsch. The life of the spirit and profound on the discount, mass-market model.
It’s a sense of intrusion. Of being violated, sometimes in a very subtile and sly act. It’s pretending and asking you to join. Something to bully, you push you into a sense of complicity as if someone put their hand on your knee in an unwanted and unsolicited manner. Kitsch. It’s about pretending to accept something unnatural and unwanted, and in accepting it are pretending to feel. It’s cliche as opposed to genuine. In modern art, its the fetish, as Kuspit said of Duchamp’s urinal, “the magic wand to wave away existence of the father.” The urinal was signed “R.Mutt” , the signifier according to Kuspit of a dog.
…. The conventional wisdom stretches the logic of perversion into the realm of the disavowal of castration, or perhaps its a hysteria and anxiety towards it. Hence, a defense against the death and sex motif, a buffer against the menace of mortality and a counterattack against the imposition of sexual differences. Its the creation of a world, like the thousand year Reich, where the individual is destined to overcome all mortal challenges and adult sexuality is infantilized to the level of four year- olds, where these is no imposition to choose or decide. Its a universe structured through symbolic order without the weight of reality to deal with where all rules are self-imposed.
Kitsch is perhaps most clearly visible where love poetry changes into pornography … perverting the infinite goal of love … into a series of finite sex acts….. Whoever produces kitsch … is not to be evaluated by esthetic measures but is ethically depraved; he is a criminal who wills radical evil. Hermann Broch, Evil in the Value System of Art, 1933
… Donald Kuspit:I can’t help feeling that there’s something artificial and forced, not to say strained, about his excitement, however genuine his curiosity about the latest thing — are the stale dead-end of a century and a half of perverse modern art….
…The point was made clearly when Gilbert and George’s shit cookies were exhibited in the Stedlijk in Amsterdam. The public was bored, not to say completely indifferent — hardly an epater le bourgeois success. Clearly the bourgeoisie has become accustomed to perversion, and shit — the world is full of it — which suggests that Gilbert and George, gay artists, have become bourgeois despite themselves (their neat suits suggest they always thought they were, however ironically), just as gayness has become bourgeois (unironically), at least in the art world, and certainly in many places…. ( Its a treasure hunt to find genuine, uncontrived, manufactured, coerced,sponsored, expressions of sentiment, real emotion, against which to fence off- Like Baudelaire’s the poet as fencer- the vacuous cliches of our post-romantic art commercial complex.)
…There is no doubt that kitsch is a modern invention. But for example, Old Master art and pre-moderns were no defense against it. There is no defense, no way to immunize the contagion, except a definitive act of nihilism, and for those so disposed, a divine messianic nihilism. Any contact with Western culture, bourgeois values released into the air since Feudalism, seems to transmit the fatal virus resng in a betrayal of their own nature. Fakes. Fakes indians. Fake Africans. Fake Taliban.
….The conspicuously perverse David Wojnarowicz symbolizes the old-style angry, tortured gay, Gilbert and George the new style gay who was never in the closet, and whose acts of anal aggression no longer cause any avant-garde excitement and difference, suggesting that perversion, like the avant-garde, has been socially assimilated, and may even be the norm, and thus quite proper….
…In an untitled undated sketch Eugène Delacroix depicted his aging father as a rather vital, virile looking man, labeling the image “le Père vert,” a play on “pervert,” suggesting, as Jack Spector writes, that he regarded his father as “an old man who retains his vigor despite his age (remains vert)” because he was a pervert. Perversion is supposedly revitalizing — a sign of enduring sexual appetite — when life in general has become boring, meaningless and tedious, but it is no longer clear that perversion can revitalize art from the avant-garde doldrums it is in. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/kuspit/kuspit6-10-02.asp …
So, our cultural situation is really a reaction to the phenomenon of mass produced product. Any effort to ennoble, to seek the courageous, the spiritual and the sublime runs into a thick impenetrable wall of mass-produced imitation, derivative and caricature that is essentially inescapable. Sweet pretense, sham flim-flam dignity that self-destructs by the ease of attainment. Getting caught up in the time wasting efforts of the spurious, ensnared in the culture industry and the destructive and violent character of pop culture, the obsession with fetish and the ease of discard. I suppose there is a concealed truth to our so-called “freedom” we appear so eager to export and extol and that is the reduction of the individual to utter passivity, needing heavier doses of obscene fantasy to support their existence. A reliance on fundamental fantasy to sustain our lives. Maybe the mystery of the human condition is so daunting, so formidable that its comforting to believe we are exploited passive prisoners.
Behind the veil of Western liberalism he sees obscenity and corruption, scandalously instanced here by the increasing shamelessness of politicians like Silvio Berlusconi. In the style of similar conjectures by Freud and Benjamin, he asks: “What if culture itself is but a halt, a break, a respite, in the pursuit of barbarity?” But at another level Žižek is the perverse goader of our worst tendencies, pushing the most vulgar spectacles of the media age to their madly logical conclusions.
Take, for example, his – on the face of it, bizarre and tasteless – comparison of the crimes of Josef Fritzl with “a much more respectable Austrian myth, that of the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music”. Fritzl’s incarceration and rape of his daughter, his abuse and neglect of the children she bore him: all of this is appalling but, Žižek ventures, also entirely of a piece with kitsch visions of the perfect nuclear family. Fritzl, to an admittedly extreme degree, had merely fulfilled the deepest fantasy of the patriarchal father: to “protect” his family to the extent of destroying it.
Žižek’s point – which he surely shares with a long line of philosophical moralists, from St Augustine to Freud – is that it is our most “natural” and “caring” urges that can lead us either into the silliest fantasies (the “sacred intensity” of The Sound of Music) or the horrors enacted by the likes of Fritzl. Read More:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/7916506/Living-in-the-End-Times-by-Slavoj-Zizek-review.html