Thursday, May 26, 2011

Art under Plutocracy

We have to define what we mean by elitist: considerable confusion will arise unless we can get clear in our heads what ‘elitist’ means. If ‘elitist’ means belonging to some threatened hierarchy of the intelligence then I think that the poet has an obligation to attune her poetry in that direction. There is a largely unknown order of human beings who believe in that impossible thing: intrinsic value. One must work as if intrinsic value were a reality, even though I myself know no way of demonstrating its real existence.


I would describe myself as a sort of Ruskinian Tory. It is only Ruskinian Tories these days who would sound like old-fashioned Marxists. I read and re-read Ruskin, particularly Fors Clavigera and I am in profound agreement with William Morris’s Art under Plutocracy.

-- Geoffrey Hill


Andrew Shields said...

I like that "threatened hierarchy of the intelligence."

Conrad DiDiodato said...

It really does depend on what you mean by "intrinsic value". Be careful what you wish for.

If you live in Canada, for example, bureaucrats will be more than happy to justify using billions of taxpayers' money to justify funding Art (via Canada Council) that must meet distinctive 'multicultural' criteria. Value for your money.

Today Art is (perhaps always was) indistinguishable from 'goods': and where goods are marketed & regulated, power and politics are never far behind.

Geoffrey Hill shouldn't talk if he can't tell if anything like "intrinsic value" exists. This is why I say the academic critic is the worst kind.