Justin Taylor|11:53 am CT

On Cultural Criticism

From a post last year at the First Things blog, Matthew Milliner writes:

Criticism, to be sure, has its place.  Frankly, it’s also more fun.  But why not fast, for a season, from strictly negative cultural critique?  Western civilization may be in rapid decline, but most of us have gotten the message, and grumbling about it does little to slow the rate of deterioration.  The appetite for gloom need not always be fed.   A different strategy is called for:  Seek and celebrate the good (and if you haven’t found good, you haven’t looked hard enough).  Call it the cultural version of Jim Neuchterlein’s inspiriting reflections this month On the Square, entitled Apocalyspe No.  “Conservatives need no instruction in the dangers of inordinate optimism, but they might need some help with its opposite.”

Today he returns to the same theme, applying it to contemporary art:

But even the most basic effort at understanding will quickly discern that complaints about contemporary art being absurd have long been sounded, quite convincingly, from within the world of contemporary art itself – making Christian “pronouncements” on that score redundant.  Did I mention this makes Christian pronouncements redundant?   At the very least we should follow the rule that every paragraph of complaint about contemporary art should be backed up with an hour of walking the galleries.

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