The Men of Avignon

by Mark Hackard

Note: Yes, I know this is a very naughty piece of writing, and I shall doubtless be denounced again as the reincarnation of Herr Hitler himself for publishing it. However, I too regard modern art as “profit-driven psychological warfare,” and the essay is worth running for that wonderful phrase alone – though it is filled with much else that flits into the memory. I’ll not say that I agree with smashing up spurious works of art. This being said, the best response to objects like Piss Christ may well be to destroy them whenever they are put on display. Of course, they are private property – but so is a terrorist bomb. Given enough practical criticism, there might even be a return to the pursuit of transcendence. [SIG]

On Palm Sunday of this year Charles Martel, victor of Tours, could smile upon his descendants. A small band of Franks wielding hammers again rose in defense of the West. The action was local-scale and humble; there was no smashing of the Saracen horde. Four young men entered art mogul Yvon Lambert’s gallery in Avignon and destroyed the Piss Christ, a world-famous image of a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine (It had previously been attacked in Australia; the coup de grace fell to the French). Their raid does nothing to shift the odds against traditionalists- it is rather an emblem of resistance, akin to stealing a general’s banner from the enemy camp. In such symbols the struggle endures.

The story of 20th-century art is one of subversion, the use of creative media for purely destructive ends. Painting, music, literature and sculpture were used as refined weapons in the avant-garde’s rebellion against Christendom. The enterprise was wildly successful- a witch’s brew of Freud and Marx prepared by the Frankfurt School would only accelerate the dominant liberal trajectory toward cultural dissolution. By 1987 an “artist” like Andres Serrano, with the patronage of collector-oligarch Charles Saatchi, could display his Piss Christ in America to the widespread approval of the elites. Its veneration in public as an object of beauty only highlights the Revolution’s progress.

Before the onset of post-modernity, art diverted from its original purpose, transcendence, still had the capacity to seduce. Escaping the boredom of late 19th-century bourgeois Europe, stockbroker Paul Gauguin could cast idyllic scenes of Tahiti’s primitive splendor and indulge himself with its native women. And the bored bourgeoisie back home were captivated, at least for a time. Under Gauguin’s influence Pablo Picasso would then paint the lascivious and animalistic Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, portending the rise of a cruel and inhuman spirit that would characterize the coming decades. Fedor Dostoevsky had already spoken of beauty’s elemental danger in The Brothers Karamazov:

Beauty! I can’t endure the thought that a man of lofty heart and mind begins with the ideal of Madonna and ends with the ideal of Sodom…Is there beauty in Sodom? Believe me, that for the immense mass of mankind, beauty is found in Sodom. Did you know that secret? What’s awful is that beauty is a thing mysterious and terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.

The battles won and lost in these dark recesses produce visible consequences. In our time Sodom would triumph; rejecting the Madonna, civilization proudly set its faith in reason while pursuing desire. Gauguin would die of syphilis, and within the generation Europe experienced a new phase of revolutionary politics and the savagery of mechanized war so well depicted in Picasso’s Guernica. Traditional culture and polity in the West, what Fr. Seraphim Rose termed the Old Order, recognized beauty as an expression of divine hierarchy. Yet the forces of the new era worked to annihilate any such notion. Sic transit gloria mundi– the glory of the modern was truly fleeting, and the false beauty of Sodom would be unmasked in spiritual alienation and death.

With today’s regime committed near-religiously to transgression, there is no further need for seduction in art. Refined weapons have become blunt instruments of demoralization. The repulsive and perverse are simply proclaimed beautiful, and all are expected to accede to the lie. Nobility is mocked, higher love altogether denied, and Eros grotesquely parodied in pornography. Art and its applications in mass entertainment are best identified as profit-driven psychological warfare. In concert with the machinery of political economy, contemporary culture robs the peoples of the West of their identity and denigrates their ancestral faith. In return it offers filth and fun. The alleged consummation of human development, the Open Society has descended to a condition of sub-humanity.

The Piss Christ was exhibited in the United States and Europe for years and served as a testament to the values of the new era. Calculated blasphemy became a holy relic of “our treasured freedoms” for leftists, and American conservatives did nothing besides run through well-rehearsed motions of hapless opposition to gain votes and raise campaign funds from gullible donors. Republicans would never violate the dogmata of secular pluralism in order to defend Christianity and the Western heritage. Their ultimate loyalty has always been to Mammon, the god of liberal democracy. One need only witness calls by U.S. senators to outlaw Koran-burning, as Washington’s trillion-dollar mission to transform Afghanistan into a Muslim Mayberry could be jeopardized by one such stunt! Meanwhile our finest art galleries maintain warehouses of sacrilege and obscenity, with similar content beamed daily to the proles via television.

It is not farcical elections and their attendant theatre that will save the West; it is the strength of will of a blessed few. The now-mangled Piss Christ confirms this. How heartening it is that the men of Avignon evinced not the least concern with sacrosanct rights of expression, the marketplace of ideas, or any other regime methods of division and control. They showed the courage to shatter a minor idol of the age and dent, however slightly, the liberal order’s myth of invincibility.

A genuine Counterrevolution in the Occident will be creative, and moved by the force of love- not just for beauty, Truth and the Good, but for their reflections in our brothers and friends, our kith and kin. In all its glamour and power, the regnant anti-culture will have wrought only its own negation; so it was attested on a Palm Sunday with the defiant swing of a hammer.

4 responses to “The Men of Avignon

  1. Mario Huet writes:

    As all such ‘art’ is to some extent subsidised, it can hardly be regarded as private property. The artists get grants and awards that are the result of theft, and the galleries are the same. While we certainly have no right not to be offended, I think we do have a right not to be robbed in order to be offended. A government may choose to argue that it is a good thing to make it possible for members of the public to enjoy works of art, and so be ennobled; but this stuff is not art and ennobles no one. And this is not because it is not beautiful.

    I am sure that everyone here is acquainted with at least one or two works of art that he admires but considers ugly. No, this stuff is not art, because its sole noteworthy quality is the ability to shock or
    disgust. It’s no more art than is a rotting corpse or a pool of vomit.

  2. I think the emphasis on Jewish villainy in the modern movement is at least overdone. So long as western civilisation was still sound, Jewish artists were as good or bad or indifferent as the others. My knowledge of the visual arts is not very well-informed: I know what I like, and I know that nearly everthing produced in my own lifetime is worthless. But I do know music, and I will say that, however the Occidental Observer people may sneer at him, Gustav Mahler was the greatest composer of the 20th century.

    Jews make up an insignificant fraction of the western population. Of this fraction, only another tiny fraction can be regarded as hostile to western civilisation. To blame these for everything that has gone wrong is either to raise Jews to superhuman status, or to think everyone else so degenerate that we deserve to fall. I think the truth is that Jews are good at making money, and there is money in anti-art. They are also sufficiently well-organised to make sure that it is Crucifixes rather than Stars of David that get photographed in pots of urine and proclaimed beautiful.

    The moral decline of our civilisation began before Jews became important. It continues despite the increasingly plain fact that Jews will suffer its consequences along with everyone else. It was Ayn Rand – herself a Jew – who made some of the clearest warnings about the downward trend.

    The essay published here is very well-written and often true – and anyone who starts pulling faces on account of its origin is a fool. But loading the Jews with blame for what has happened avoids any investigation into the deeper causes of western self-destruction. It is almost as bad as blaming everything on the growth of government spending.

    I have no idea why things have gone so badly wrong. It may be the decay of Christianity. It may be the culling of the able in the Great War. It may be something as overlooked as changes in diet. Whatever cause I can imagine, though, could just as easily be no more than a common symptom. But things have gone badly wrong. There is no doubt of that. And, if anti-semites may be no wiser about ultimate causes than anyone else, there is some benefit in hearing their own denunciations of spurious art.

  3. “…loading the Jews with blame for what has happened avoids any investigation into the deeper causes of western self-destruction. It is almost as bad as blaming everything on the growth of government spending.”

    This is a view shared by the Jewish paleocon Paul Gottfried and I would agree with it. Despite the obviously disproportionate involvement of Jews in some of the most catastrophic intellectual and political trends, Jewish leftists would not have reached a position of political and cultural power were it not for the suicidal behaviour of WASP elites in Britain and America.

  4. C H Ingoldby

    I don’t know why anyone is talking about the Jews. Scions of Western civilisation seem quite happy to sabotage their own cultural inheritance without any external encouragement.

    As for the ‘vandalism’ of the Piss Christ. Excellent. I? am increasingly coming to the opinionthat the correct and proper way to deal with ‘liberal’ enemies of Western Civilisation is with direct violence. Reason does not influence them. Appeals to conscience leave them cold. Violence and intimidation make them run and hide like pathetic old women. (no offence meant to actual old women who are entitled to actual respect). The Islamists know this and the ‘liberals’ self censor themselves and bend over backwards to accomodate the most vile Islamist developments.

    We must learn from what actually works.