Friday, June 26, 2009

Roger Scruton: Beauty and Desecration

I ran into the following interesting piece by Roger Scruton by way of Arts and Letters Daily. In it, he gives a critical consideration and analysis of certain shifts in the world of the arts in the modern period.

A brief excerpt:

Beauty and Desecration
We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness.

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art.

At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes.

To read the entire piece: Beauty and Desecration by Roger Scruton, City Journal, Spring 2009

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