ART AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This is a provocative book concerned with the social significance of high-cultural activities. It is a rejection of the role of art as the highest manifestation of society's achievements, exposing art as the perogative of elites and an enemy of the people.
Art has not been with us for ever. According to Roger Taylor, it is of recent origins; its function has been one of class domination. The author argues that philosophy and aesthetics are responsible for illusions about art which give ordinary people an unjustified sense of inferiority. When these are penetrated -through historical and social investigation- the position of art as an enemy of the people becomes apparent.
Popular culture is itself in danger of being weakened through attempts to reconcile it to high-culture. Roger Taylor has written for people who wouldn't normally read a philosophy or other book with intellectual pretensions.
Roger Taylor looks at the history of jazz as an example of the threat to popular culture. Jazz has been absorbed by the cultural establishment. It is no longer a conflicting alternative to high-culture and no longer a truly popular culture.
The arguments of Art an Enemy of the People were for when it was written and first published. Being committed to this contingency was the critique of philosophy which the book contains. Therefore, in preparing a second edition, no effort has been made to update its arguments. Its arguments were for then and not now. Arguments for now are contained in Roger Taylor's new book Invisible Cells and Vanishing Masses. Art an Enemy of the People is part of the history of anti-elitism and anti-art which developed in Cultural Theory during the latter quarter of the twentieth century. As Stewart Home says in his Mute interview with Roger Taylor, "Taylor was the first writer I'd come across whose arguments about art didn't exude the rotten egg smell of the idea of God". This book is then a challenging example from the history of Anti-Culture.
of class bias, to try to resurrect a category of ‘real art’ which is not the accepted art of the society. What I wish to bring out is that, though we have uncovered some of the factors necessary for an understanding of the concept of art, in treating the discrepant concepts of art, between the twentieth century and twenty-second century, as indicating a mistake, we have gone wrong at a methodological level. The alleged mistake could not exist, because there is no category of true art apart from
own explanation for the enduring value of Greek art does not become an orthodoxy but it is symptomatic of the numerous bits of fudging that go on within Marxism to keep the art of the past intact. At no point does Marxism investigate the historical nature of art as conceptual practice. The pretensions to a historical materialist analysis of art are confined to explaining individual works of art, or forms and genres of art; explained as the product of historical circumstances. The origins and
possess a ‘mass basis’, the technique must link up with a moment in the subject – one which, of course, in him points back to the social structure and to typical conflicts between ego and society. What first comes to mind, in quest for that moment, is the eccentric clown or parallels with the early film comics. Individual weakness is proclaimed and revoked in the same breath, stumbling is confirmed as a higher kind of skill. In the process of integrating the asocial jazz converges with the
fact from themselves, so, even more so, is this true of the Americans of the ‘jazz age’ and beyond. To be in the context bearing the label ‘jazz’ was really sufficient, it was not necessary to encounter jazz New Orleans’ style; in fact to do so was, often to take on more than was bargained for. For instance, Louis Armstrong’s first appearance in Britain at the London Palladium was a sell-out, but the packed audience, confronted by Armstrong the perspiring ‘Negro’ constantly mopping his brow with
then the airport, and its consequent social problems, result from planning abstracting from real and surrounding social process. Or, when a planner finds it possible to draw a line on a map and thus builds on the ground in accordance with the line on the map but fails to observe and relate to the full social and physical complexion of the area. Here, the concrete misery of possessions orders or of, as in a recent case, the undermining of the clay strata and the consequent fall in the water table