Armond White is the movie critic for National Review. In 2010, as then-chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, he addressed the group’s annual award banquet. Moviedom VIPs attended: Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, others. None liked what they heard.
An essay based on that talk appeared afterward in First Things under the title “Do Movie Critics Matter?”
Most editors and publishers today cut out or limit criticism’s traditional media function. Journalistic standards have changed so drastically that, when I took the podium at the film circle’s dinner and quoted Pauline Kael’s 1974 alarm, “Criticism is all that stands between the public and advertising,” the gala’s audience responded with an audible hush—not applause. Continue Reading
Among the more unnerving aspects of contemporary culture is the accelerating pretense of art to the aims, methods, and achievements of science. Call it art in drag, art in the costume of systematized knowledge, gained through observation and experiment, of the material world and its social structures. Art as counterfeit science, more accurately, as complement and accomplice to it, is proudly on show in the University of Buffalo’s current call for applicants to its PhD program in Media Study. The work below illustrates the program:
Marc Bohlen’s construction is the visual correlative of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, science fiction brought up to date . Continue Reading
Among Platonists, man is mind, intellect, above all else. Man is ordained to think. His province is learning and true wisdom. The rest is flesh and appetite, or, in the phrasing of Timaeus , an Eros of begetting. A common, ignoble thing that resides in the lower precincts of the body and pulls us earthenward, away from our celestial affinity.
Christopher Johnson, in the comment section to the previous post, alludes to that ancient polarity. Speaking of El Greco’s St. Martin and the Beggar, he notes that the painting transports the scene from a mere act of charity to an encounter between the mortal and the divine. Continue Reading
Beauty will save the world—a mantra among contemporary Christians issuing from the mouth of a character in nineteenth century Russian fiction.
Augustine’s Beauty has already saved the world. Our ransom has been paid. What matters now is whether the world cooperates with its redemption or flouts it. History will tell in the end. The arts of the beautiful are weightless in the balance. They can only scratch at the surface—if that—of moral beauty.
But moral beauty is not the artist’s province. Continue Reading