Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Although art is no longer a part of the religious system, having become autonomous like all other value-systems since the breakup of that all-encompassing system of religion, reinforcing this autonomy with the principle of l'art pour l'art, nonetheless, art even today has set down its own private theology in a series of aesthetic theories, and continues to hold to its highest value-goal, and this, too, continues to hover in the realm of the infinite, be it called "beauty," "harmony" or whatever else. And the ethical demand made of the artist is, as always, to produce "good" works, and only the dilettante and the producer of kitsch (whom we meet here for the first time) focus their work on beauty.

For the esthetic in general as an expression of the supreme ultimate value of a sustem can influence the result of ethical action only secondarily, just as "wealth" is not the main goal but the side effect of individual commercial activity. And "wealth" itself is an irrational concept. It is an almost mystical process, the setting of ethical values: Arising from the irrational, transforming the irrational to the rational, yet nonetheless it is the irrational that radiates from within the resulting form. 
"...religious belief is not required, but at most just that self-evident religio without which there is no desire for knowledge, not even the desire for atheism."
Hermann Broch, "Evil in the Value-System of Art" and "The Spirit in an Unspiritual Age" in,  Geist and Zeitgeist: The Spirit in an Unspiritual Age
For most of the above you could switch out art for science: Why go to Mars? "Because we need to know." The logical or in art's case formal structuring of a desire which is itself always irrational.

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