The True Audience of Art is God

Provocative idea found in an old Zero HP Lovecraft essay in The American Mind:

What does the divine care for “new paradigms,” for gay portrayals of “the human condition?” Art which has Man as its object is folly, and this is the reason for its permeating ugliness; Man without God is ugly, and the only truth that manifests in such art is the truth of how ugly Man can become. The art that we SHALL make will have God as its intended audience, and all other beholders will be merely incidental. This is how it must be, and how it always has been, with regard to great and poignant art.

The New Tlön” – The American Mind

I take “having God as its intended audience” to mean to above speak the truth, the cosmic truth (I also take it to mean offering it up to please the Creator, as to do otherwise is blasphemy and blasphemy does not speak Truth, however much it wishes to), to speak not just to Current Year but to the past, and to the future. It means not to narrow your field of art to that collection of men who happen to be alive around the time you are.

To frame one’s Art this way is to solidify the claim that Aesthetics is a branch of Philosophy. It is to agree with the self-glorifying poet who proclaims that Beauty is Truth and Truth, Beauty. This statement has always struck me as wrong, because one learns pretty early that things pleasing to the senses can be used to manipulate and deceive. This causes us to differentiate Sensory Beauty, with esoteric True Beauty, wherein the latter becomes meaningless except as a synonym for Truth.

This is where we must recognize both that Oscar Wilde had a point, and that the concept of the Sublime is useful. Just as a lie cannot deceive unless it contains a piece of the truth, beauty would not have the power to manipulate if there were not something unmistakably Real about it. We perceive this potency, we feel it intensely, we respond to it autonomically. In this way Beauty is more real than the circumlocutions of our abstract rhetoric.

But precisely because of this potency, the Beautiful can be Terrible. Helen of Troy destroyed a city by no action of her own. The destruction of Troy, an event symbolic of the Bronze Age Collapse, resonates like the Fall of Man through the ages that followed. It bore something true to them, something beautiful, something terrible. It was sublime.

Therefore, the only art worth making is an attempt at these, with an eye towards what follows.

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