Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is
Over the centuries since the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 and the Bill of Rights in 1791, the principle of States’ powers and States' rights – that States enjoy certain rights and prerogatives upon which the Federal government may not intrude – has gained a bad reputation. One could reasonably date the origin of this bad association from 1948, when Strom Thurmond accepted the presidential nomination of the break-away Democrats constituting the States’ Rights Party (“Dixiecrats”). The Dixiecrats were tainted because they advocated a radical doctrine of States’ rights and powers in opposition to a Federal government they viewed as bent on coercive nationwide racial integration, in violation, they argued, of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the US Constitution. To this day,
This will probably sound strange coming from me. But … here goes … I miss God.
Well … even that is not quite accurate. If by the term “God” you understand the traditional, orthodox conception of God as basically “a really, really, really big Person writ large,” then … no … I do not miss that God, the kind of God Samuel Taylor Coleridge, somewhere or other, referred to when he said that the average Englishman’s conception of God is as “of an immense Clergyman”; the kind of God Whose eye is on the sparrow; the kind of God Who numbers the very hairs of my head (in my case, a task easy even for human beings, let alone God); the God Who browbeat poor, innocent Job. In other words, I do not miss the kind of God who Sees Things And Runs Things, the Great Cosmic National Security Agency,