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.

Content Blues, The Podcast – Episode 2: Zarathustra’s Funko Pops

This has become a more easily replicable format than Thumbs Down/Thumbs Up, as I don’t have to pretend that I’m doing anything but observing what I’ve encountered. Half an hour is about right for a program such as this, where I’m really just talking directly into the microphone. Shallow & Pedantic has three regulars now, so it clocks in about 90 minutes. This math checks out.

This episodes topics:

  • Why Blade Runner 2049 is the Best Sequel Ever
  • Miles Davis’ Get Up With It and the concept of Fusion Jazz
  • Zero HP Lovecraft’s The God Shaped Hole
  • Why Funko Pops are Of the Devil.

You can listen to it on:

Literature in the Age of Zero HP Lovecraft

The self-described “horrorist” Zero HP Lovecraft, aka The Only Man On Twitter Worth Reading, submits to a blog interview. He has much to say on many topics, including “wokenes” and the “school of resentment”, post-modernism, “desire machines” and his own work, and a hose of others. I invite you to read it in full, but I include some choice quotations.

As I have said elsewhere, in order for storytelling to succeed, it must contain a true theory of human nature. Wokeness is a false theory of human nature.

If you read Harold Bloom, I think he makes a kind of personal religion out of the canon. He views reading it and interacting with it as the path to salvation. Criticism for Bloom is soteriology, and that is also why he is a good critic: he likes and reveres the authors he is criticizing. He is correct when he identifies resentment as the driving force behind most other critics. They tend to be people who cannot create things themselves, so they just try to destroy what others have built.

What we need is a right-wing postmodernism, one which can acknowledge the absurdities and contradictions in our epistemology and learn to flow with them, rather than against them. Postmodernists, for all their excesses, stumbled into a vein of truth concerning narratives, knowledge, subjectivity, and technology, and they used that knowledge to construct a painful but effective abstract machine of ideology, which is currently so culturally ascendant that the right is curled up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth saying “no no no, not postmodernism, no no no.”

The school of resentment is just a fancy name for women in academia. They hate Infinite Jest because loser men who haven’t figured out how women feel about their personal philosophy try to tell them about Infinite Jest in order to sleep with them, so IJ becomes a cheap litmus test for “is the man talking to me a loser?” Women hate it when losers talk to them, because it implies that a loser man thinks he’s good enough to get with them, which implies that they aren’t very hot.

I can see how someone might characterize my work as satirical. I sort of cleave to my friend @quaslacrimas definition of satire here, that in order for a work to be satire, someone has to not be in on the joke. A classic satire like A Modest Proposal is a satire precisely because it never slips the mask, and some people will take it seriously, and get angry, and a lot of the humor lies in the reaction of the people who aren’t in on the joke. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m quite sincere in what I write, though I do try to use humor to spotlight some of the absurdities that I see around me in modern, technological life. If there is anyone who is not in on the joke, it’s me.

Whether or not one agrees with his takes, they are more interesting than most of what passes for commentary, on Twitter or elsewhere. He’s a fully online writer, who mostly appears at Substack and his own WordPress site. Writing is for him not a means of making a living but an expression of his life. He’s like Delicious Tacos that way: guys who write weird tales under a pseudonym so they can keep their day job. It’s a purely artistic expression, or at most a side hustle.

Confronting the reality of writing in this century is a serious one. The Old Publishing model is dead or dying, but the New Publishing model has new problems. The Freedom to Publish has become universalized, and therefore you must yourself do market analysis and learn SEO coding. Writing is not enough anymore.

On the plus side, that means there’s an opening for originality. And by originality I mean telling the truth of the moment in a way that immediately connects to whoever happens across it. The Truth does not vary but the Moment does.