one of the greatest traditions in all of human history has been under a merciless and relentless assault for the last one hundred years. I'm referring to the accumulated knowledge of over 2500 hundred years, spanning from Ancient Greece to the early Renaissance and through to the extraordinary pinnacles of ...achievement ... These traditions, just when they were at their absolute zenith, at a peak of achievement, seemingly unbeatable and unstoppable, hit the twentieth century at full stride, and thenI keep coming across this again and again. An almost exact parallel between the ending of the great artistic and liturgical traditions of the West.
... fell off a cliff, and smashed to pieces on the rocks below.
Since World War I the contemporary visual arts as represented in Museum exhibitions, University Art Departments, and journalistic art criticism became little more than juvenile, repetitive exercises at proving to the former adult world that they could do whatever they damn well wanted ... sadly devolving ever downwards into a distorted, contrived and contorted notion of freedom of expression.
Hardly surprising considering how closely the two had been intertwined through the last 2000 years. So closely that it is difficult to guess which is dragging down which.
Some days, sometimes, for various reasons, I am brought up short, to a complete halt, and am forced to ask, again, what satanic madness hit the world in the 20th century? How have we come to such a pass that we can say that a woman must have a "right" to murder her children before they are born, that artists who create ugliness and engender despair are "great", that liturgy childish enough to insult the intelligence of very stupid children is the peak experience our 2000 year old Church can offer?
The ordinary secular world can smell this rot. How could they not? Everyone knows that SOMEthing is terribly wrong. Each may have a different idea of what it is, and especially how to fix it, but I can't imagine anyone over the age of 20 not realising that things are not turning out as hoped.
The rosy, bubbly naivete of a document like Gaudium et spes just reminds us now of cheap, sweet fizzy wine, the kind that leaves an aching head and some embarrassing, hazy memories the next morning.
Are we waking up from our 50 year-long binge yet? I sometimes wonder if the lotus has been so strong that it will keep some in its spell for the rest of their lives. I've known lotophagi of that generation who never gave it up, and died locked in their fantasies.
From such a horrible fate,
Dear Lord deliver us.