Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On the False Bravery of Cynicism

I cannot abide those who make extremely gruesome or horribly graphic works of art on the slender justification that “the world is horrible, we’re just a mirror for that horribleness.” This stand itself is not necessarily what bothers me. Certainly it’s facile and horribly inconsistent with the central philosophy of art as a concept, but that doesn’t make it reprehensible, just stupid. What does make it reprehensible is that those who say it often see themselves as rebels, boldly showing the world its darker side on the apparent assumption that we can’t see it perfectly well from here, thank you. But there is nothing of the noble rebel about their position. They see a holocaust and think themselves the allies, but no. They are the Vichy. When they bear witness to evil their first instinct is not to fight it but to collaborate with it. That is what makes them wicked. Not the cowardice itself, which is understandable even if it is not admirable, but the cowardice disguising itself as bravery through a flimsy facade that tries to escape detection by means of sheer bragadoccio. But no, there is nothing brave in it. If you see evil, fight it.