Culture Art Criticism and Politics – reading back issues of partisan review


In this week’s reading of back issues of partisan review, one of the pieces I read was 10 propositions on the War. How this applies to art, at first I had no idea, but I came to some conclusions.  However it was a thought provoking piece with notions I had not considered. I will not go over each thesis but will discuss my over all impressions.

A Democratic Society cannot beat a Fascist Society. This is interesting. Here “Society” is treated as a technology, perhaps as a techne.  Perhaps,  when everything is a techne then everything becomes art.  In the past how would we judge a ‘society’? This is a good question and I, for one, am not too sure.

The notion of war versus revolution.  The idea here is that world war 2 is not a war (or a continuation of ww 1), but a revolution. And you fight wars and revolutions differently. What is a war versus revolution? Revolution is a revolution in civilization and therefore CULTURE. So yes, art would be affected. If your culture changes, your values change, and yes art will change as well, since art is an expression of culture.

I don’t necessarily see art critics today engaging with the major issues of the day like climate change, or #metoo.  This is a failure of criticism. Most of these news events  -or perhaps pseudo-events, to use Boorstein’s phrase, make no sense when you apply logic (legal logic or rhetorical logic). They unfold like a performance, and traditional categories of judgement do not seem applicable, relevant or impactful. Instead of a meeting of global leaders to draft up accords, instead we should have an art symposium.