11 Jan 2012
What more is there to say other than a "Hear! Hear!"
3 May 2013
You're singing my tune in almost perfect harmony. I have independently discovered many of the individuals named in your essay. I'm a fan of Burke, Arnold, and Victor Davis Hanson. It is to the latter that I wish to complain. You condensed a recent essay into "philistinism." I think Mr.hanson shares your hope of American greatness, and is simply reacting to a materialist nation finally asking a searching and important question. Mr. Hanson is speaking to them on their terms. I hardly think an expert on classical history and languages, and one so willing to go against the grain of academic and popular progressive culture has missed the notion of arete and its nuances.
Your essay also raises a question for me. You appear to condone a return to nobility, virtue, and other expressions of an essence, almost a neo-platonic formalism. The contemporary rejection of artistic modernism is centered in the modernist dependence on essentialism and its reductive approach to purity that ends up being an expression of bigotry. How does your vision of virtue and nobility not fall into this trap? (Please note that my use of the term "bigotry" is NOT an accusation. I've been a near-constant victim of this rhetorical ploy and find it repulsive in the extreme; its use signals the end of a conversation for me. I'm more interested in how one might address that accusation head on as it seems to be the weapon of choice against coherent argument these days.)
That said, I find little else to criticize in your essay. I'm looking forward to reading more and will lurk in your archives a while.
A bit about me. I'm a middle aged tradesman turned academic, teaching studio art and art history at a small semi-rural college in the American south. In my non-traditional education I ran into an Art Historian named Art Pontynen who used Bloom's "Closing" as a starting point in his approach to the discipline. It was an awakening. Further, I've done some work with Fernando Frietas and Juan Martinez in Toronto at their Academy of Realist Art. They seek to do what you're imploring we do. They're returning to 19th century academic art training excellence, not simply to copy or ape, but to serve as a foundation for the expression of modern beauty, with the belief that beauty or virtue is a living thing that each generation must reify in its own new terms. I consider myself a missionary for the rescue of culture, though the further I go down this road, the more it seems there is to learn, and the less I'm sure my approach is valid.
Many thanks again for your thoughts. Never too late!