“You know what I hate?” – Clive Owen as Smith in Shoot ‘Em Up
Courtesy of Hans G. Schantz, I’ve just read this thought-provoking article by Bruce Charlton. Charlton’s concept of entropic pseudo-creation resonated with me immediately:
The past century has been characterized (indeed plagued!) by a pseudo-creativity which has usurped true creativity.
This has even afflicted those were were potentially, or at-first, genuinely-creative geniuses – so that these individuals have turned against truth, beauty and/or virtue and end-up harming culture to a similar extent that earlier geniuses used to benefit culture.
Likely examples would include Picasso, Schoenberg, James Joyce, Wittgenstein, Keynes, Freud, and several other heroes of the ‘modern’ era….
Entropic-pseudo-creation, by contrast, uses-up the energies and potential of a field of discourse.
In effect; it generates energy from the destruction of form and positive motivations; and ‘burns’ actual creation to generate the energy (and attractive appeal) needed to make, sustain and promote pseudo-creation.
False creation is therefore entropic because it depletes achieved divine creation; it erodes God’s-work in order to do more of the devils-work.
Entropic-pseudo-creation is therefore, like all evil, parasitic upon the Good.
This describes a vast region of contemporary cultural space. It has afflicted every one of the arts. It has seriously damaged philosophy and the humanities. Worst of all, it’s steadily creeping into the sciences.
Because I write, there’s a particular subsector of such garbage on which I focus my detestation. Few things in fiction are more important to me than originality. That’s because it’s extremely difficult, after centuries of storytelling, to come up with anything that’s simultaneously original and relevant to people’s lives. I can’t write unless I have an original idea with which to work. However, it must also be an idea that can stimulate conflicts and emotional reactions among my characters. Lack of any such idea is one of the reasons I didn’t release a new novel in the Year of Our Lord 2022.
Some pseudo-creationist writers circumvent the problem of originality by jamming things together that simply don’t go together:
- Wizards on starships.
- High fantasy novels with vampire characters.
- Romances between humans and aliens…or robots.
- Elves with steam power and women in leather corset-bustiers.
Combine such a perverse combination with mediocre writing and inattention to mechanics, and you get the worst of what afflicts fiction today.
Apart from my particular peeve, the arts suffer several varieties of the malady:
- “Drama” composed by formula.
- “Poetry” that lacks rhyme and meter.
- “Music” that lacks melody and harmony.
- “Paintings” that don’t depict anything in particular.
- “Sculpture” that mocks the human form…if there’s a human in it.
- “Literature” in which there’s no perceptible theme, no coherent plot, and no protagonist.
I suppose it could be worse. We could be forced to pay for the production of such garbage…wait, what? We are? Oh dear. I took my eye off the ball, didn’t I? My bad.
Those who eagerly consume such crap are egged on by a “critical community” that actively hates the arts about which they claim authority. They also hate the consumers thereof. What matters to them is wholly distinct from any artistic values, for they have none to speak of.
I could go on; there’s plenty to talk about in this space. But I have other things on my mind at the moment. Ponder for yourself how the humanities, philosophy, and the sciences have steadily been infiltrated by irrelevant or outright destructive ideas and motifs. Why, for example, are philosophy departments being invaded by racialist flacksters determined to twist every question of philosophical relevance into bigotry against Negroes? Why are departments of chemistry and physics being assailed for the preponderance of white male practitioners thereof? Why is the notably difficult discipline of psychometrics being condemned as hateful for finding enduring statistical disparities among the races?
There is no Last Graf. Sturgeon’s Law applies, as it always has and always will. Just be sure to keep your Garbage Detector well calibrated and its filters unblocked. And most important of all, try your best to convey good values, and an appreciation for good art, good science, and good thinking to your children.
Charlton is one of several “Romantic Christians”, along with Wildblood, and Tychonoievich, or as I call them, Free Range Theologians. I have them all bookmarked. I find them all worthwhile. Charlton is not my favorite by a long measure, but when he is right he is right.
I am an artist myself; I work in stone doing abstract, or free-form pieces. They are exercises in pure form, meticulous, and well crafted. It was one thing when sculpture could be freed up from imitating the forms of Nature’s God. How many more statues, or busts do we need? But when art divorces itself from beauty, it no longer serves to edify, or even please the eye. It may provoke a reaction, but so does a traffic accident. Contemporary art has removed skill in execution from prerequisites. Now, a clever idea is enough. And who among us has not had a clever idea? All the barriers for entry into the game are down. Come be a genius! Anyone can do it!
Be on the lookout for the word “deconstruct.” People who use this word are not seeking to “deconstruct” classic forms, they want to raze them to the ground in order to build their ideas on the ashes, as if what came before never existed. Personally, I think it is the application of envy to fields of artistry, which is why it parallels so precisely the rise of leftism.
In the field of fiction, epublishing in general and KDP in particular is having an impact. Overall, quality has suffered in the name of quantity. There are a few very worthwhile authors that traditional publishing was gatekeeping me from finding, but they are approximately one in fifty. The rest seem to be producing vast piles of stuff just good enough to keep people turning the pages so as to maximize Kindle Unlimited revenue. Good quality fiction that’s not ate up with wokism (not sure those two can really exist together, anyway) seems to be harder to find now, not easier.