At the Mencken Conference, I made a point to some big brained people, a point I’ve made here many times. That is, if a reasonably aware and smart person in the 1970’s had fallen asleep, like Rip Van Winkle, and woke up in our age, he would assume the Soviets had won the Cold War. After all, we have adopted the aesthetic of the Soviets. Our cars all look the same and come in black, white or shades of gray. Our buildings are sterile, utilitarian structures. Our high and low art is purely ornamentation, rather than imitation.
Living as we do in this age, we don’t often notice this, but we live among the ruins of the culture that made the West. That culture is dead and has been dead for a while. It’s why our creative side does not create much of anything. The other day a high end art auction featured a work that self-destructs. That was probably the closest thing to art created by a modern artist in several generations. Otherwise, it is all pointless nonsense that says nothing about life. At best, it matches the decor and provides a tax break for the owner.
The death of western culture, or what we think of as western culture, was a top down thing that started with the spread of democracy. Modernism began roughly a century ago with painters of limited skill, abandoning any attempt to imitate or celebrate the world around them and instead make increasingly abstract pictures. By the middle of the 20th, painting meant something closer to what is produced at a daycare center. Sculpture looked like something found in the local dog park and architecture had devolved into brutalism.
The top down decay made its way into the lower forms of cultural expression. Look at popular music which probably peaked in the 1970’s, but is now produced by robots and grunting retards with no musical training. When was the last time someone wrote poetry popular with the middle-class? Do they even teach school children poetry today? The world of fiction is mostly a poor imitation of what was done in the past. Even movies, a modern creation, are now made by robots and aimed at foreign audiences.
Imitation is the celebration of life. That is the art of a thriving, growing culture. Like a child coming into the world, it seeks to capture the beauty of the world around it through imitation. It’s why most of the western literary canon was created by young writers, while the great histories are written by old people. Today, the brightest minds wish to spend years in ugly training centers called colleges so they can get a cubicle job and participate in the enforced conformity that defines this age. Our young people have no souls.
Ornamentation, in contrast, is the sign of a dead or dying culture. There is nothing left to create, so the goal is merely to “add a personal touch” to the creation of others. Home builders stamp out the same dozen house designs, but allow the buyer to alter some of the light fixtures, so they can pretend to be unique. Cars are all aerodynamically designed to look the same, but you can get the sport package, because you’re different. Every pop song made by the robots sounds the same, but the singer wears a slightly different outfit.
As people sensing we live in the winter of western culture, it can be discouraging. After all, what’s the point of trying to preserve anything, if it is already dead? Why engage in political fights, if the outcome, in a larger sense, has been decided? It’s important to remember that the world does not end when an important man dies. The world may go off in a different direction than if he had lived, but it goes on nonetheless. Cultures come into being, grow and thrive, then decline and die. That is the cycle of history, the cycle of life.
Here is the important thing though. The plowed under fields of the one age become the birthing ground from which will sprout the life of the next age. For example, imagine if in the next election, all white Americans decide to sit it out. Whites don’t run for office, participate in the debates or follow the action. Whites stopped voting. Fox News would have Ben Shapiro debating Tariq Nasheed about how the gay black guy is more conservative than the one-legged, transgender lesbian of color, but they will do so as a pantomime to no one.
If whites turn their back on the rest of the people living in this land, those people will spin themselves like tops trying to get whites to reengage with them. That’s because what we think of as culture is purely a white thing. That flicker of life is an ember carried from one white culture to the next, that ignites the fire of what follows the dying present. If whites turn their back on all this, they will not be looking into a void, but into a mirror. They will see themselves and their power to create. This scales up to a new culture being born.
That’s why people on this side of the great divide continue to engage with whites still trapped on the other side. It’s why we engage in politics, follow the news and debate the issues of the day. Every election, every event, is a chance to tap a normal white guy on the shoulder, so he breaks free from the trance for just a minute, to see that that there is something else going on and he needs to be a part of it. After every election, after every turn of the wheel, the boats crossing the river to this side are full of new adventurers.
We may be living in an ugly age, but you cannot have spring without winter. It is the normal cycle of western civilization. At some point, the number of people realizing this reaches a critical mass. The project then swings from trying to animate the long dead carcass of the past, to building a new culture for a new people. In time, the aesthetic will reflect the flourishing of the new, a celebration of life through imitation. Most reading this will never see it, but you will probably live to see the green shoots.