Discussion of Art and Architecture - RR161BJ114

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Discussion of Art & Architecture
Course: Course - From the Easy Chair
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 114
Length: 0:59:43
TapeCode: RR161BJ114
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
From the Easy Chair.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation

Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, RR161BJ114, Discussion of Art & Architecture from the Easy Chair, excellent colloquies on various subjects.

[Rushdoony] This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 222, July the third, 1990.

Otto Scott and I are now going to discuss the subject of art, a very important subject because in western civilization, in particular, the closest and most important relationship of art has been to Christianity. On the subject of what has happened in art, there has been a very fine book written. The author is Remy G. Saisselin, the title The Bourgeois and the Bibelot published by Rutgers University Press in 1984.

His thesis, which I believe is correct, is an exceptionally important one. Because, he says, art in origin has always been connected with either one of two things, religion or the state. It has had an objective function in society, an important one in the maintenance of social order either through religion or through politics. But what we have seen in the modern age is something very, very dramatically different. Art, in fact, has, he says, replaced religion. It has been severed from the source of life. It has been divorced from work. And it has become, instead, a collector’s item, a way whereby man shows that he is superior to others through aesthetics. And culture today has become an industry and art is the new source of class distinction.

Hence, you have avant-garde art. You have a continual need for novelty and if you are up on the things, you then avail yourselves of this novelty and you look down at those who do not understand what your, say, Picasso says. So it becomes an aesthetics if distinction, he says, a way of keeping the lower classes in their places. And collecting art, in terms of this kind of approach has replaced titles of nobility. Now you are a collector and thereby you are a man of distinction. So, he says, art has died insofar as its objective public function is concerned. [00:03:35]

Well, with that, Otto, would you like to comment on...

Well, with that, Otto, would you like to comment on that or anything else?

[Scott] Well, I think the ... the author’s argument, which is really an argument on the class struggle viewpoint, in which he is associating art with a class position. And that is Marxist. They see everything as the reflection of a class struggle to achieve or maintain eminence. And I don’t... I don't see it quite that way. I think there are elements of that argument which are valid, which are true. But I don't think, really, that it could be taken in its entirety.

The modern art movement is only about a hundred, 150 years old. Let’s say that it began around the 1850s or 1860s. And it had its zenith, I would say, it is already passed its peak.

I was at an auction at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City where actually several millions of dollars passed hands on contemporary, realistic art, all western and all beautiful and not a word about it appeared in any eastern newspaper or any west coast newspaper, only in the local press. And all across the country the abstract expressionist paintings are going without any customers and traditional art is beginning to come back. But I do agree with him on one area and that is that there has been a separation between art and religion and I think that is a very fruitful area to go into.

[Rushdoony] I agree with you that his thesis at points parallels the Marxist analysis, but he recognizes that before about 1850 the class element did not enter into art. It was when art was fully separated from religion and no longer was used by the state and you had the culture as represented in Paris and Napoleon III, that this kind of thing entered in. And it became a means of establishing eminence. The old nobility had never felt that they had to prove anything. The new element around Napoleon III was out to prove they were better than anyone else, better than the old nobility and they used art for that purpose. [00:06:52]

So while the thesis parallels the Marxists, there are...

So while the thesis parallels the Marxists, there are some very real differences. And I think his basic premise that art historically has had an objective frame of reference, it has to do with the reality of order, political or religious. It is...

[Scott] But it has always been tied in with the politics and religion. I mean, think of David, the French artist who portrayed the revolutionaries of the French Revolution as noble characters from classical legend. And the church was the great patron of the arts for an awfully long time.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] In fact, when the early movies began, I saw a film clip of the pope who incidentally didn’t seem to be at all as regal as modern popes. He looked like a village priest of some sort and he was greatly in favor of the movies in Rome, because he thought of... though of the movies as a new vehicle to propagate the faith. And those great biblical spectacles which D. W. Griffiths produced here were first produced by the Italians.

[Rushdoony] Well, the extent to which art was related to religion came out in a very, very interesting book that published in 1983. The author was Leo Steinberg and the title, quite, a striking one, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion. And his thesis is that you suddenly began to see in paintings in the late Middle Ages and early renaissance, portraits or pictures of the infant Jesus naked showing his sexual organs. And this is a striking departure from what had taken previously. [00:09:16]

You had pictures of the infant Jesus at his circumcision...

You had pictures of the infant Jesus at his circumcision and so on. And the whole point of it was theological. You could not in those days do a picture in the church unless the clergy approved, unless you had authorities that gave their seal of approval to what you did. And he says that by that time the divinity of Christ needed no demonstration. It had been well established throughout the Middle Ages, but what happened was there was a need to proclaim and it began with Saint Francis of Assisi, the humanness also of Christ, that he was very man of very man as well as very God of very God.

Now I know from history that one of the tremendous reasons for the success of Saint Francis was that he introduced the crèche, the infant Jesus in a manger into churches or into public places. And the response was sensational. And it accounted, to a great degree, for the success of the Franciscans, because what it brought home to people was God was a little baby like us in the person of Jesus Christ. He underwent all our experiences and, therefore, could understand us. And, of course, it culminated in portrayals which showed the sexuality of Christ and had a tremendous impact in the history of the Church.

Well, art was, thus, a teaching ministry, a very important one. And there have been books written which have studied the cathedral and church murals and have pointed out how every little detail reflected a theological perspective that the Church was promoting at the time. [00:12:03]

[Scott] Well, yes...

[Scott] Well, yes. The ... the growth... the growth of art and images in the Church all through the ages of faith finally, of course, fell in from being too much of a hype and had too many pieces of the true cross. They had too many...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] They had too many statues and they had too many everything. And excess began to diminish its impact. That is one of the reasons for the iconoclasm of the early reformers, the image breakers, the white washed churches and so forth. But here we have something where I think the Protestants went overboard. They turned against art entirely too much and there still is an element in the Protestant community to regard artists as a competitor with the clergy. And I don’t agree with that. I don’t see that.

[Rushdoony] Well, I... it wasn’t the reformers. It was Zwingli only and some Anabaptists, but Calvin and Luther did not have that position.

[Scott] That is true, but their followers very often fell into it.

[Rushdoony] Well, it was two or three generations later and it was under the influence of Zwingli. For example, reading from G. G. Colton, The Fate of Medieval Art and The Renaissance and Reformation. He writes, “Like Luther he, Calvin, recognized it, art, as one of God’s gifts. In his institution which sums up his whole doctrine...” And I am not in error there. Colton calls it institution in his translation of it. He writes, and I... and he quotes, “Yet am I not so scrupulous as to judge that no images should be endured or suffered. But seeing that the art of painting and carving images cometh from God, I require that the practice of art should be kept pure and lawful. Therefore, men should not paint nor carve anything but such as can be seen with the eye so that God’s majesty which is too exalted for human site may not be corrupted by fantasies which have no true agreement therewith,” unquote.

Luther went a great deal farther saying, “I do not hold that the gospel should destroy all the arts as certain superstitious folk believe. On the contrary, I would feign see all arts—and especially that of music—serving him who hath created them and given them unto us. The law of Moses forbade only the image of God. The crucifix is not forbidden,” unquote.

“He would have church walls painted with the creation, Noah building his ark, et cetera. He thought all lords ought to paint the walls of their mansions with Bible scenes,” unquote. [00:15:41]

Now while Calvin did not like depictions of God the...

Now while Calvin did not like depictions of God the Father and the Holy Ghost, he was against the destruction of any thing that carried such a representation.

[Scott] I agree, but the fact remains that the Protestants turned against art and imagery to a very great extent.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but they forsook their own fountainhead in so doing.

[Scott] Well, they did a lot of things that they shouldn’t have.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] As we know, the puritans went much further than Calvin and much farther than Luther and much father than almost everybody else in the Calvinist camp. And we did lose, I would say, speaking as a Calvinist today, we did lose the close contact with the arts that the Vatican retained and to this day we have a gulf between this camp an the arts.

[Rushdoony] That is true and it is very unfortunate. There are a great many prominent, reformed leaders right down through Kuyper to the beginning of this century that protested very strongly against that temperament. But among the common people the Zwinglian temper caught on.

[Scott] Remember that at one point when Knox first appeared in Edinburgh to give a speech or give a sermon, I should say, and the crowd ran out and ransacked all the churches. He didn’t tell them to.

[Rushdoony] No. Well, it was there hostility to the old order which led to that to that kind of thing and Calvin spoke very sharply and intensely against that sort of thing and Luther lost his temper over that attitude. However, you must remember this, that before the Reformation periodically angry peasants were ransacking churches and destroying images and paintings and what not because of their hostility against the existing order. [00:18:19]

[Scott] Against the tides...

[Scott] Against the tides. Well, it was a part of a revolution. Now one of the things about a revolution is the attack against the imagery of the old regime.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And against its symbols. That is why the business of burning the flag in the United States is so remarkable that the Supreme Court of the United States would go along with a revolutionary effort to destroy the symbols of this nation.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, every excuse was used by the various states to do that. I know with the French Revolution the Benedictine monasteries in Europe brought from 1500 to about 300 some and even then those 300 and some had most of their libraries and ransacked and their properties taken from them by Catholic rulers. So it was not only in France.

[Scott] That is true.

[Rushdoony] Nor only under Henry VIII...

[Scott] That is true.

[Rushdoony] ... that monasteries were seized earlier.

[Scott] No. The French... the French royalty gutted the church...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ... and looted the church. In fact, all the nobility of the Europe couldn’t restrain themselves from what they considered the treasures of the Church.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Now we are seeing a replay of that in the United States. The only untaxed area of treasure left in this country belongs to the religious community and the government is dripping with anxiety to get at it, to get at it in one way or another. The.... every governor, every congressman, every senator, every representative, all the departments of commerce and so forth, keep their... are looking at that. They can’t stand the fact that those collection plates are going in without a ... what is it an electronic abacus to keep track of it.

[Rushdoony] Well, in Christian Art, a book by C. R. Morey, M O R E Y, published some years ago by Norton, 1935, he makes the point that one of the problems today, as in architecture, he is dealing with specifically, we have a curious divorce of beauty from truth. Since they, the designers recognize no inspiration higher than the human mind, so Morey, a scholar, an historian, feels that this divorce has led to the degradation of art. [00:21:25]

And it is interesting, at the same time, that some...

And it is interesting, at the same time, that some curious things have happened, because from the perspective of taxes, well, let me read. This is from Margaret E. Stucki, S T U C K I, The Revolutionary Mission of Modern Art or CRUD and other Essays on Art. And she is on our mailing list, by the way. Herein lies the tale of financial gain through indulgence, as in Tetzel’s time when buying an indulgence would get you more speedily to heaven, buying art today will get you income tax relief which, to some people, must feel quite as much of a relief as getting out of purgatory.

[Scott] I didn't know that. Buying art can get you ... reduce your taxes?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Let me read on and she explains.

[Scott] I am happy to hear this. Go ahead.

[Rushdoony] In 1950, there is catch.

[Scott] Oh, I am sure.

[Rushdoony] ... the American government and the British government passed laws giving tax relief to people who donated works of art to museums or schools. In England, in order to discourage the export of art it become possible to pay, death duties with works of art instead of money. Imagine what this would do to the art market. Also imagine, if you can, what gross malfeasance might tempt dealers and appraisers and auction houses in their advice to clients as to what to buy this year in order to donate to the public domain. It is my own belief that this ability to save money on income tax is the major prop in perpetuity of genuinely fraudulent works of art. The council is not great artist in my eyes. But the amount of revenue he has saved wealthy people is tremendous. Works are appraised at fair market value or the going rate. This rate will keep on going as long as the owners of Picassos—and they are legion—keep up the myth of his infallibility. As long as his doodles are deductible and his erotic drawings in easy supply, all the companions and cooperative corruption of culture will continue to praise Picasso. [00:24:12]

Which museum directors...

Which museum directors... director will admit his grandiose financial errors? Which millionaire will admit that his collection is worthless when he has saved thousands of dollars in taxes by donating it, while he still retains possession of it until his death? Donating it to his alma mater who is too timid to renounce his gift for fear of losing his financial support, unquote.

So you see, there is ... she explains here and elsewhere, there are gimmicks within gimmicks for the promotion of these works of art and to give you a tax break and to give you the honor of donating it and to have your name in the museum or on the university halls.

[Scott] Well, that is true and I had forgotten about it till you brought it up. Recently somebody wrote an analysis, an analytical book, I should say, about Bernard Berenson, the famous expert on religious art of the Renaissance and later periods who was tied in, as you know, with Lord Davign...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...the great art dealer. And there were some amusing stories about Davign. One which I have ... must repeat is about his idea of selling Andrew Mellon an enormous—at an enormous cost—a particular painting. And the cost was so high that even Davign had to give special thought to how he would ensnare Mellon. So he put this painting in a room by itself and he surrounded it with other rooms, the first room with several paintings and then on the other side a third room with even more paintings and he showed the first room with its collection of paintings in a sort of leisurely way to Mr. Mellon. Then he rushed him past the room with only one painting in it and started to show him the room... the paintings in the third room. And Mellon said, “Wait a minute. What about that painting back there?”

Oh, he said, “You wouldn’t be interested in that such. It is much too expensive.”

Mellon said, “I want to see it.”

And of course he sold it to him.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] But the analysis of Berenson who had been greatly praised was that the tailored his assessment and got a kickback.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And all the bidding which raises the prices of works of art higher and higher not only pays off to the buyer, but every one else who owns works by that particular artist will find the value of his is enhanced so that it is a good way of preserving a large estate by giving some works of art that are worth millions to a gallery, a federal gallery or a university gallery and you preserve the rest of your estate. [00:27:29]

[Scott] Well, we also have a very interesting paradox...

[Scott] Well, we also have a very interesting paradox here, which the first occurred or first appeared, so far as I know, in Rome. Grecian antiquities were highly prized in Rome. And, of course, there was a flourishing black market where they were created.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And... and faked for the Roman millionaires of the day. We have, however, a somewhat analogous situation where despite all the praise in the art publications for artists who are doing pretty much what a four year old kid might do if he was angry with the paints. Despite all this, despite the reputation of the modern artist, the great sums are being spent for the art of the past. And religious art, art of the Renaissance and art of the Impressionists, Gauguin and so forth, who is not really too good.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] Very poor draftsman... all looking backward much as the Romans looked back at the Greeks, as though their... what is present is really in their heart worthless. They really know this.

[Rushdoony] Yes. You mentioned Gauguin, very interesting character and yet highly intelligent. I have read more than a few things since my student days by and about Gauguin. And this book I have right now is The Writings of a Savage: Paul Gauguin.

[Scott] Well, he is a sort of modern hero because he is a bourgeois that shucked all his responsibilities.

[Rushdoony] Yes, abandoned his wife.

[Scott] He abandoned his wife and kids.

[Rushdoony] Well, that is a virtue now...

[Scott] And he... and... and fell into the stews of Samoa. And that is the kind of fellow that gets written up. And you can see his counterpart in People magazine all the time.

[Rushdoony] He wrote at one time, “And this marked him, the turning point of the times in art, a mad search for individualism.” [00:30:06]

If you have ever seen the works of Gauguin before he...

If you have ever seen the works of Gauguin before he went to the South Seas, when he was in Paris, you would have to say this man was good. But in the search for individualism he abandoned everything and hit upon this approach. Of course, he was very, very contemptuous of the people he idealized. He called them healthy animals, which hardly was a term of respect. And some of his language hardly would pass muster with Feminists today. This is what he writes, “A period of work alone. I saw many young women with untroubled eyes. I guessed that they wanted to be taken wordlessly, brutally, a desire for rape as it were. The old man said to me, speaking about one of them, ‘Take this one.’ But I was timid and could not bring myself to do it.” And so on.

He also said, “I am a great artist and I know it.”

I would like to say a little more about Gauguin, because he came from a well to do background and he writes, “I became a day pupil in a boarding school in Orleana. The teacher said, ‘This child will either be an idiot or a genius.’ I became neither the one nor the other. One day I came home with a few colored glass marbles. Furious my mother asked me where I had gotten them. I lowered my head and said that it had exchanged them for my rubber ball. ‘What, you, my son engaging in trade?’ That word trade in my mother’s mind was a despicable thing.”

Now that is the kind of attitude that has, I am afraid, formed a great many artists and been very influential. Now, of course, Gauguin outgrew this. He did say, by the way, to cite another thing of himself and Van Gogh, “Both of us are insane.” [00:33:08]

[Scott] Well, of course, they were compared with what...

[Scott] Well, of course, they were compared with what came later, really interesting men and artists. What came later, what we were exposed to, the Bauhaus, for instance, being with Clay and the rest of them, the Bauhaus came over here and immediately was picked up by the New York establishment and went like a knife through butter across the country. I was absolutely flabbergasted to see corporations buying the ghastliest things you have ever seen and hanging them up in corporate headquarters all across the country because this, they were told, was art.

Now what it really was, was the destruction of form. And with the destruction of form you have the destruction of meaning. When you have something that has no further... no limit and art without form is a contradiction in terms.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] It is an assault against reason and against culture. What really was underway was an assault against the Christian culture of this country.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And that has never really been brought out by the Christians or by the people who have attacked them.

[Rushdoony] Yes. One of the things about Gauguin that I respect is his honesty on this glad score, because he said, “We must not only attack Christ, but go higher up, further back in history,” he said, “to God. What must be killed so it will never be reborn, God. God must be killed.” And he says this over and over again. His hatred of Christianity was intense.

[Scott] Well, not too long ago, if you recall, there was a ... a book. I think you across it. I certainly did, where Picasso and some of the other artists in France outside the establishment, hoping to break in, to become a success, to make money and, of course, your comment about trade. I don’t know about trade, but I have never known artists that didn't want money. They don’t work for love.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] Picasso and the others went to an exhibition in Paris of primitive art from Africa.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...from dark Africa, from blackest Africa. And I will admit, because I have seen some of those idols, that they are impressive. They don’t ... they are foreign to us, but there is something about them which is quite impressive. In any event, that is what set off the whole business, back not only to Paganism, but back to Primitivism. And it was a deliberate effort to get away from the Christian civilization all together. It really is hatred in the form of art and it parallels our earlier observations on the films, on the movies, because this has gone through all the reaches of modern art. I mean, we cannot keep art restricted to painting. It has gone into literature. We have books that have no chronology, where the sequence is jumbled, books without a plot.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, that type of thing is a war against God, because order is seen as associated with God.

One of the things that I think we miss very much in our day is what Johann Sebastian Bach represented. He was marked by a pride in his family inheritance, although he was very poor. He came from a background of people who had been musicians, who had served the Church. And he felt that it was a heritage to be proud of and to carry on. And this, in a book about Bach titled Johann Sebastian Bach by Willibald Gurlet. I will quote.

“Bach viewed his own life as a repetition of the existence of his ancestors. For that reason mastery in his art appeared to him not so much as a gift but as an assignment and a demand. He felt that he was confronted by something in which he was to achieve proficiency, to acquire expertness in which he was to put into action. Occasionally he was asked what measures he had under taken to reach so high a degree of skill in his art. He usually replied, ‘I have had to be diligent. If anyone will be equally diligent he will be able to accomplish just as much.’ He did not make much of, even as he did not depend on his superior native endowments,” end of quote. [00:39:12]

[Scott] Well, that sort of thing has broken a lot of...

[Scott] Well, that sort of thing has broken a lot of hearts, because people without talent can be very diligent. I think in the arts, especially, I have seen people who were extremely diligent, extremely sincere and who were never going to get anywhere.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but, you see, what Bach was facing, because he was antiquated and old fashioned in his day, was the emphasis which culminates in the kind of art we have today, on inspiration without discipline, without training. And he felt strongly that that was not valid. He felt he had the attitude, but it was diligence. It was discipline.

[Scott] I understand. I understand the argument.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] I understand the argument. But God gives us different gifts.

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes.

[Scott] And you have to apply them. You have to have diligence enough and discipline enough to apply them. People mistake their gifts, though, and especially in the arts. And perhaps it is because, as you indicate, that there is so much nonsense that has been written about it. So much has been said about inspiration and the proper mood and this and that, that people go into the arts who really would be better served elsewhere.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And sometimes those who go into it are destroyed by the schooling they have. About 25 years or so ago I knew a very lovely young woman whose works were outstanding. And her husband appreciated her talents and put up the money for training in an art school and it destroyed her.

[Scott] How so?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Because she was a master of realistic depiction and insight. There was a gripping, haunting quality to her work. But they taught her to treat that with contempt and to go in for non realistic...

[Scott] Abstract.

[Rushdoony] Abstract...

[Scott] Abstract expression....

[Rushdoony] Work.

[Scott] .. expressionist work.

[Rushdoony] And she was never able to regain her own talent. They destroyed her.

[Scott] Well, that is one of the perils, of course, of... in the arts everyone has, of course, their own vision. And if they don't project that, they are not going to make it. You just cannot. There is ... there is... the only way you look at the world is the way God allows you to see the world. You cannot see the world through other people’s eyes. You cannot think with other people’s minds. You were given a mind and a pair of eyes and a heart in order to trust them. You just cannot allow schools or education to do that. [00:42:38]

[Rushdoony] Yes...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] But you have opened up another gate. I mean, schools are doing that more than not. Those of us who missed the school are actually lucky.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Because the pressure of the professors and of the age and of the fashion is very {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] What can a poor young person do?

[Rushdoony] I think that is true in one field after another. I am not saying across the boards, because I don’t know.

[Scott] No. We have good people, too.

[Rushdoony] Yes. But in the world of the seminary. Now, I believe a good seminary could be established. But what we have today, whether it is the Modernist seminary, the evangelical or the reformed, is so bad that the students very often come out poorer creatures than when they went in. So it is not surprising that today the churches that have grown phenomenally are the churches where the pastors are self trained, often better read but all the same having had no seminary training.

[Scott] That is interesting.

[Rushdoony] Are more successful.

[Scott] That is interesting. That is... carries us back to the Reformation.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Because it was the... it was their training in the Renaissance that were sending people over the cliff, that was turning them into believers in astrology and horoscopes and antiquity and everything except themselves.

[Rushdoony] Then there is this factor. This comes from a book, Margaret R. Miles, who is a professor of historical theology at the Harvard Divinity School, very, very much an Modernist, a lot that I disagree with in her book Image as Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity and Secular Culture. In spite of her basic outlook which I cannot agree with, she is a woman of sound insights and one of her statements, which she applies to herself and to anyone working in the arts, I think, is a gem. She said, “Authorship is moral responsibility.”

[Scott] That is true

[Rushdoony] A tremendous statement.

[Scott] That is true. [00:45:23]

[Rushdoony] And I think it is one that needs to be...

[Rushdoony] And I think it is one that needs to be...

[Scott] ...very definitely so.

[Rushdoony] ...promulgated today. Authors, artists, musicians need to be reminded. Authorship is moral responsibility.

[Scott] Well, look, culture is expressed by its artists.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] If the artist turns against the culture, the people are absolutely defenseless.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And the culture will be destroyed. This is what is happening to us. Our culture is being destroyed because the artists have turned against it. And one of the reasons the artists have turned against it is, I went back to the business of painters want money. They have to pay rent. They have ... like to buy homes like everybody else. The Christian community is no longer the patron of the arts. And therefore the arts do not work for the Christian community.

Now it may sound crass, because of this Victorian nonsense about art for art’s sake, but the fact of the matter is that art is a craft just as much as carpentering or plumbing and it has to have it... it has to be compensated. The money that is poured upon the arts and upon the theater by the liberal left is enormous.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, the same applies in politics. Politicians do not support the Christian agenda because the Christians never contribute to their campaigns. Every other kind of group does. But Christians don’t. But if they contributed and made known where they stand, you would see a big change in all these...

[Scott] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] ... politicians.

[Scott] That is interesting. Although I am not sure about it... and the reason I say I am not sure about it is that business has been gelded by the bureaucracy. At one time business had a lot of influence and power in this country, but business today does not.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Look at what happened to Exxon and look at what is going to happen to Exxon. They are going to put them on criminal case, criminal trial for an accident.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...which if anything could prove the fact that business has lost political influence that would make it. Yet, business gives all kinds of money to politicians.

[Rushdoony] But that is on a shake down basis. What they are told—and I have been told this by bankers and businessmen—they are told by the reigning partying in congress that you give so much.

[Scott] Well.... in it... they don’t have to be told in so many words. Things are seldom that crude. They are... they are aware...

[Rushdoony] Yes... [00:48:30]

[Scott] ...of the fact that if they don't give anything, things aren’t going to be good for them. The... and I am afraid that the Christian community would also give its money to men who would say, “Now, we don’t give a damn what you think.”

[Rushdoony] Yes, I am afraid so. Well, on one of the things—to get back to Margaret R. Miles and her book—that she calls attention to, she is dealing with early Christian art. Now the earliest churches that were built, the art work in them and she makes this statement and calls attention to what an art historian {?} had to say that in these works, and I quote, “The mood is consistently peaceful even in rare depictions of martyrdom, as the art historian {?} expressed it. In those tragic years when the blood of the martyrs was flowing, Christian art expressed nothing with {?}. The serenity of lines and colors is not placid, however, nor postures without inner tension.”

Now that is a remarkable fact.

[Scott] That is the faith.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Art at that time expressed the faith powerfully, because it depicted the martyrdoms that they had been going through very recently and yet with a sense of serenity.

[Scott] Death was... death was not... death was not the end.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Yes. So she calls attention throughout to the fact that the images in the church, that is the paintings or anything else, depicted more than the physical reality, but a spiritual framework.

[Scott] They had a transcendental element. Other than, you know, life is real. Life is earnest and the grave is not its goal.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] That is Longfellow. And they... they laugh at it, but he meant it.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:51:03]

[Scott] And art without the spirit is not art...

[Scott] And art without the spirit is not art. It is merely daubing. It is ... it is words on paper, formless. And I think it is very interesting that Tom Fleming, the editor of Chronicles tells me that he has six or seven young poets who are submitting their poems to him in the classical form who cannot get published anywhere else, just as the NEA grants are not given to a realistic painters and they are not given to Christian composers. They are given to the Serrano who puts the crucifix in his own urine or a Mapplethorpe with ... with a riding crop up his anus.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] This sort of thing is portrayed as the right of the artist to be creative without limits.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Now, of course, we know underneath that argument there is another argument entirely and that is we have a polytheistic country where all gods are recognized by the state as long as all the believers and all the gods obey the state.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] That is the Roman system.

[Rushdoony] There have been defenses of Serrano, Mapplethorpe and others lately that make an amazing point. They identify what they call freedom, but really total license with art.

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And that is at the heart of a lot of this evil.

[Scott] Well...

[Rushdoony] If I am free to do what I please, that is art.

[Scott] It is art so long as you only attack what is unfashionable...

[Rushdoony] Yes...

[Scott] ... in the eyes of the government. Now not every religious group can be attacked, only the Christians can be attacked.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And the Muslims and, perhaps the Buddhists and the Hindus. Satanists aren’t attacked.

[Rushdoony] No. Well, one of the things that Barbara Miles also calls attention to is the tremendous shift the Reformation made from the visual arts...

[Scott] ... to the word.

[Rushdoony] ...to the word. So that we do not appreciate the enormous contribution that the Reformation made in that sphere which has affected all of life. He is quoted or she quotes Hugh of Saint Victor, “I do not wish to argue, as does Hugh of Saint Victor, of a depreciation of words, a quote, hierarchy of expressive media in which speech is secondary to knowledge acquired without words as intermediaries,” unquote. [00:54:18]

Hugh’s objection was to exclusive religious dependence...

Hugh’s objection was to exclusive religious dependence on words and was based on changing definitions of the meaning of words as well as on the inevitable ambiguity of all words and their lack of competence to reveal the invisible world of religious meaning. As Rudolf Verliner puts it, “If words are not exempt from misunderstanding and need explanation, they have no basic advantage over pictures,” unquote.

Now she gives the very kindly interpretation, but she is right in calling attention to the fact that from a depreciation of words we went with a reformation to a vast appreciation of words, because of the return to the primacy of the Bible as God’s revelation.

[Scott] Well, of course, the word still is here. And I always got a great deal of pleasure from Tom Wolfe’s book The Painted Word in which modern art without the explanatory words is absolutely without meaning.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And this sent all the New York art people up into flames.

[Rushdoony] I remember.

[Scott] And they wrote an article about his Philistinism and so forth, because he practically single handedly demolished the mystique of modern art.

[Rushdoony] They criticized even the way he dressed. He made himself intolerable.

Well, our time is approaching its end. Are there any last words on the subject that you would like to offer, Otto?

[Scott] Well, of course I am sorry that we didn’t get to the formless literature paralleling the formless painting and the formless sculptures. I hate to say it, what the sculptors themselves call these modernistic monstrosities that are set up in the rotunda and patio in front of buildings and so forth, they refer to these things in obscene terms, because they themselves consider them an insult to the people.

[Rushdoony] Yes. [00:57:01]

[Scott] And they consider it a wonderful achievement...

[Scott] And they consider it a wonderful achievement to get the people to pay to be insulted.

[Rushdoony] That is true. A few years ago one artist actually put his feces in sealed containers and sold them.

[Scott] And people gave him money.

[Rushdoony] And people gave money.

[Scott] But not...

[Rushdoony] The {?} of it appealed to them.

[Scott] But not as much money as the government gives.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] The government gives a great deal of money now to the arts.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And it is interesting that when Stalinist art and Hitlerian art and Mussolini’s art was treated with contempt, American treasury art is supposed to be very good. And the whole idea of the subsidized artist in the United States is fine. It was only the Fascist...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...artist who was subsidized that was a contemptible creature.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And we are getting even worse art with our subsidy.

[Scott] Well, of course, I do not agree with the argument of some of the conservatives that Serrano and Mapplethorpe and their ilk have a perfect right to produce that sort of thing in the private marketplace. I don’t think they have any right to do that. I don’t think they have any right to be blasphemous or obscene.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Scott] I don't think that people have a right to issue anti-Semitic diatribes. I don’t think that any group in this country should be treated as contemptible.

[Rushdoony] I agree fully and I think civilization rests on that kind of perspective, a civilized, a godly discourse and respect for every particular group.

Well, our time is up. Thank you all for listening and God bless you.

[Voice] Authorized by the Chalcedon Foundation. Archived by the Mount Olive Tape Library. Digitized by ChristRules.com.