Archived post

This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.

« “Any Such Political Sleepers” | Home | Dare to be Mediocre »


Two Bits on Bad, or Ungreat, Art

Zest for my present coursework—an argument for the existence of God which is limited to four pages—has escaped me momentarily and, as I am separately reading “A Handful of Dust,” I picked up at the library a volume of Evelyn Waugh’s letters, as a distraction.

Here are two things for you to read. First, Nick Desai’s very fine editorial in the new Dartmouth Review, “Avante-Garde Sounds the Bugle of Retreat.”

Second, and quite related, this letter which Waugh submitted to The Times on December 18, 1945. I do not know whether it was published.

Sir, — Strong tea with what Mr. Dunlop describes as “a shot” of vodka is indeed a nauseating draught to those who are used to the fine wines of Titian and Velasquez. M. Saurat has the root of the matter but I think he does not draw the right conclusion: “mankind is disillusioned with itself,” realizes it is incapable of the great feats of its ancestors, but instead of patiently relearning the forgotten lessons turns meanly towards “something new.”

Senor Picasso’s painting cannot be intelligently discussed in the terms used of the civilized masters. Our confusion is due to his admirers’ constant use of an irrelevant aesthetic vocabulary. In the United States the adolescents, speaking of music, do not ask: “What do you think of So-and-so?” They say: “Does So-and-so send you?” Modern art, whether it is Nazi oratory, band leadership, or painting, aims at a mesmeric trick and achieves either total success or total failure. The large number of otherwise cultured and intelligent people who fall victims to Senor Picasso are not posers. They are genuinely ‘sent.’ It may seem preposterous to those of us who are immune, but the process is apparently harmless. They emerge from their ecstasy as cultured and intelligent as ever. We may even envy them their experience. But do not let us confuse it with the sober and elevating happiness which we derive from the great masters.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
Evelyn Waugh.

For a while thereafter, Waugh included “Death to Picasso” as a post script in most of his personal letters.

Best-of-Logo-2014_dartblog.gif

Featured posts

  • August 14, 2013
    Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
    History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
  • June 25, 2013
    Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
    Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
  • October 18, 2009
    When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
    We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
  • October 9, 2009
    D Afraid of a Little Competish
    So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
  • September 4, 2009
    How Regents Should Reign
    As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
  • August 29, 2009
    Election Reform Study Committee
    If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…

Dartblog Specials

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Help, Pecuniarily

Please note

This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.

All content appearing at Dartblog.com should be presumed copyright 2004-2018 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.

Advertisement



admin

Calendar

January 2018
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31

Search

Archives

Links