“A society that hates life won’t last”

uglification of artThe headline above comes from Saturday’s Wall Street Journal column by Peggy Noonan. Her piece focused on the ‘uglification’ of art. She cited several examples, and provided some keen insights on this accelerating phenomenon:

“The ugliness seemed a deliberate artistic decision … And for all that there is something smug about it, as if they’re looking down from some great, unearned height.”

So why is art getting so ugly, and what does it have to do with the pro-life movement? Noonan’s perspective warrants reflection:

“Here is something sad about modern artists: They are held back by a lack of limits.”

Without limits, art gets ugly as the basest elements of the human condition take over.

The great G.K. Chesterton, who studied art as a young man, put it this way:

“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.”

Art needs boundaries. Says Chesterton in “Orthodoxy”:

“Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If in your bold creative way you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe.”

Seeking truth

It’s as if something has blinded the modern artist from seeing the Truth. And yet art is all about revealing something truthful. The artists lionized by popular culture today are characterized by their lack of recognition of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Thus, the uglification of art.

The milieu in which modern movie makers, musicians and artists move is characterized by a lack of appreciation for God’s greatest work of art: man. If you don’t appreciate God’s creation, the one made in His very image, your art will be characterized by self-loathing.

This is why contemporary art bothers the likes of Noonan, and perhaps you, too. Says Noonan:

“It can’t be good for us. Because it speaks of self-hatred, and a society that hates itself, and hates life, won’t last. Because it gives those who are young nothing to love and feel soft about. Because we need beauty to keep our morale up.

Because life isn’t merde [look it up], in spite of what our entertainment geniuses say.”

Just last month, the New York Times ran a headline to confirm Noonan’s thesis:

“Led by its youth, U.S. sinks in World Happiness Report. For the first time since the first World Happiness Report was issued in 2012, the United States was not ranked among the world’s top 20 happiest countries. The drop was driven by people under 30.”

These under 30s consume most of our culture’s art. No wonder they aren’t happy. And no wonder our birthrate continues to plummet, reaching an historic low in 2022. Our youth have been told that God’s most beautiful creation is actually a disease.

What to do

What do we do about it? Let’s create real art, and support it. Real art seeks to reveal truth, even if it is ugly. Fake art seeks to reveal ugliness, even it it’s a lie.

Truth is the objective of real art.

As the poet John Keats wrote:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

And before Keats, Plato said:

“Beauty is the splendor of truth.”

Pulse believes that a society that loves life will thrive spiritually, morally, and economically. That’s why we just hosted our “Women of Worth” musical event last month. It blended dance, music, and theater together to celebrate the beauty of women in history and our lives.

God loves creativity. He told us that in the very beginning, right in the Book of Genesis (1:31):

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

Pulse is working hard to create a state that loves life. We use many approaches, including the creative arts. Join us in making Iowa a state that loves life.

[Promote the good, the true, and the beautiful. Give $25 today.]