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The Desolation of Art in the Late 20th and Early 21st Century

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Art which possesses neither public responsibility, nor aesthetic originality, is a very humble form of art. While for much of history, the concept of art did not yet exist, it is clear that there were works of art being produced. It may even be said that art came naturally to the rhapsodes who were later collectively referred to as Homer, when (initially) composing the lyrical interludes of the Iliad, and later making the whole poem lyrical. But these works necessarily laid emphasis on the side of themselves which were τέχνη, until the event of early Romanticism, as defined by Hamann and Herder, in opposition to Kant. It was not until Yeats' middle period that the idea of a unifying system of public responsibility (τέχνη) and aesthetic originality (art) became proper. Since the deaths of Eliot, Pound, Bunting, and others, High Modernism has been reacted against, by the humble Romanticism of gentlemen like Larkin (in England), and the Post-Modernist experiments of gentlemen like Ashbery (in America). My theory is that this is both caused by and contributing to the general downfall of our society, since verse used to, and no longer does, bother to influence society, in any meaningful manner. Until this idea has been revitalised, there may as well be no art at all, considering it simply stands as a kind of cask-monolith, pretending to do what it does not itself even understand.

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