Friday, July 02, 2010

The Arts as Prophets of Doom

“Herbert Read once remarked that “a society does not dethrone its flatterers.” After the vision of human perfectability was incorporated into the democratic faith, the biblical view of man as sinner began to fade in the popular consciousness. But now that the masses have been comfortable for several generations with that flattering portrait, it is about to be replaced by one they can hardly imagine. There are clues aplenty in the nihilism of the visual arts, the film, stage and fiction, but soon it will be plainer. F.A. Voigt has described how the crimes of National Socialism were all prefigured in the literature, stage, and film of inter-war Germany. “The transition from things imagined to things real is a very easy one, and men, no less than children, will suit action to fantasy.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 86).

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