Thursday, 4 February 2010


How are we to define the artistic age we live in? A definition may not be needed now, but surely we must have learnt from history that every era is at some point encapsulated in one simple word or phrase. So what is this era, the present, to be termed as by those who view it with hindsight? Modernity is already taken, so we are certainly living in a temporal environment that is post modernism. Yet the phrase post-modernism seems uncomfortably definitive; as if all that follows modernity must be held within that bracket. Post-post-modernism sounds laughable, but since the term "post-modern" suggests an infinite capacity, are we then to be content with it to describe the creative products that are constructed by current generations? I think not.

Today, the artist (to use a term saturated with connotative meaning) takes on a role he never has before. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that no artistic from, no matter with what intention it was forged - be it Romanticism, Modernism or Post-Modernism - is beyond being absorbed and de-radicalised by the established conventions it sought to overturn. Inevitably, all new and seemingly subversive approaches to art become fashionable, and as soon as something becomes fashionable it can be sold, and that which can be sold must share its meaning with the image it projects of the consumer. Meaning, then, becomes lost in commercial value. To those dissatisfied with existing artistic conventions, to slip into this old pattern is to refuse to learn from the past. Today's artist, and more specifically the writer, finds himself forced to accept a role that has always been his, but only now does he truly become aware of it.

The writer is an individual impacting other individuals one by one. He has no duty to society. He is not part of society. He can only be a writer because he denies the existence of society. To assume a role as passive as the writer's and to acknowledge the existence of society is an act of gross negligence and self-indulgence. For what problems exist today that can be solved by something so incipient as writing, or any other art form? The problems that defined and engendered artistic movements of the 20th Century no longer bear any relevance to us: war, genocide, destruction. To my generation, atrocity is a fact of human existence and, in the world we live in today, fact is a thing that can exist with complete independence from reality. We see reports of the casualities in Iraq and Afghanistan and, compared to the hundreds of thousands that died in the first and second world wars, the numbers seem insignificantly, unsatisfactorily, small. Such pitiful numbers seem almost unworthy of our attention. The word "war" has much vaster connotations than modern warfare can satisfy. This is not due to a lack of compassion, merely to a lack of proximity. Television shows us these deaths, but so too does it show us deaths we know to be fictional. We are very aware of which is fiction and which is fact, but without the verification the proximity of our senses can provide, how can we truly care? Most of the facts of which we are aware are never to be verified by the senses; they arrive in our conciousness through language alone. What reason does my generation have not to deny the holocaust?

We expect too much of language. The word holocaust is expected to carry with it all the emotion we consider attached to the planned death of almost 17 million people. On a more everyday level, we expect language to carry all the information that our body communicates to others through the senses. Great as the invention of language is, perhaps the greatest of all, it is incapable of such tasks. Language is what enabled the building of civilisation, what holds it together (under the term language I define anything with symbolic meaning, currency included). The role of the artist today, and the best situated to fulfill this is the writer, is to break language; to draw attention to its complete lack of meaning, plunging humanity into the chaos that has always existed around us and that we have tried to deny: the chaos of nature, of life, of death, of balance. The chaos that is the one thing of true beauty in the universe - that explains all and denies all. Humanity is already moving towards this destruction; its structures and supports will inevitably collapse beneath it as our environment collapses beneath us. The artists task now is to claim one final victory for humanity: to achieve this destruction before Nature can. This is the final school, this is the school of Destructivism.