Richard Bledsoe “Alternative Evolution”
A piece on why the achievements of Modernism fall short of the works of the Masters. Key quote: “Yet the achievements of a Michelangelo — those that have survived — simply dwarf those of the Bacons, Freuds and the rest, in spite of all the resources of modernity. What changed? Was it, in Max Weber’s phrase, the ‘disenchantment’ of the world? Last month the New York Review of Books carried a previously unpublished talk by T.S. Eliot to a Cambridge literary society in 1924. In it, he defined modernity as ‘the movement which accepted the divorce of human and divine, denied the divine, and asserted the perfection of the human to be the divine’.”
Humanity is not perfectible. All efforts to defy our natures through our own efforts lead to division, fragmentation, conflict and failure. Modernity was an accurate representation of the spirit of its age, of the schisms that develop inside and outside of people when we make ourselves the center of the universe. Modern art documented the frantic casting about for a solution, trying out this theory, that theory, this aesthetic, that approach, but all such efforts are doomed. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” Eliot wrote, but the ruin will always break through in the end.
What the Masters had was a sense of integrity the Modern world rejected-integrity in the sense of wholeness, a sound condition. This is the spirit of Remodernism. We can learn from and use all the discord and ruptures of the last century and put the pieces back together. The Modern experiment failed. It did not bring perfection into the world by using human intellect, a feeble and limited tool under the best of circumstances. What is called for is a new mode of understanding, which is actually a very old mode of understanding. Enduring wisdom is greater than the equivocations of rationality.