Sunday, December 31, 2023

Artistic modernism and the Traditional Mass

My latest for the European Conservative: some reflections arising out of the work I did for The Intellectuals and the Latin Mass, about the intellectual and artistic signatories of petitions to save the Traditional Latin Mass.

A key passage:

This is a reminder that the relationship between artistic modernism and traditional artistic forms is a complex one. By definition, modernism involves a rejection of artistic conventions, but there is an open question as to which conventions are being overturned. The impulse of modernism is a response to modernity—new technology, social change, and so on—but there is again an open question regarding what form this response will take.

Those brought up in a strongly-manifested Catholic culture may feel that modernity is a challenge that requires the Church to change in order to address it, or they may feel even that modernity has proved the Church wrong. Artistic modernism may be an expression of this stance: James Joyce is the outstanding artistic example of such a view.

Other artists, no less rebellious, took things in a very different direction. Those whose lives have been dominated by a secularised culture, characterised by mass-produced art, may also take the view that their own culture is inadequate to the demands of the time: demands made, in particular, by the wars, political crises, and economic convulsions of the modern age. It is equally clear, however, that this culture is itself the product of modernity: in other words, modernity has created a culture which does not equip people to deal with modernity. To rebel against it, and to seek out less inadequate cultural forms, may involve the overthrow of the modern in the interest of reviving something older.

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