IN MARCH, following that horrific terror attack at Westminster, I wrote a piece for those circumstances. At that time I spoke about how our communities in Britain hold to the structure of our culture and traditions, which were being sadly undermined by today's obsession with unchecked modernism. I hope I explained how this 'Anything is Okay Modernism' attitude, born of modern art, opens doors which are just not healthy, natural, or good for society, and probably not for our security.
So, it's horrid and sad to be considering these same thoughts again, with that terrible misery that our people are suffering from this current terror, without conscience, decency, or any human consideration.
I said before we should encourage the media to no longer support those modern ideas of selfish individualism and anti-social attitudes as normal and desirable, and I do believe that promoting extreme individualism has been encouraging this cynicism and contempt for normality.
Daily, we are all subject to waves of this unchecked modernism with its failed theories apparently liberating us from hardships – with social disapproval for the notions of society, its structures and past values. Yet these values ironically were, and still are the very cornerstone of our culture and proven traditions.
So yes, it is difficult for the public to see and recognise today the effects these extreme modern ideas have on lives. They are not addressed nor criticised in education. In fact, they are promoted regularly, and the first ideas that are promoted, are modern theories of subjectivity and interpretation, which promote uncertainty, community loss, isolationism – all without those proven traditional standards.
Yet standards do still exist surrounding the structures of our society. The Prime Minister has said, "There is far too much tolerance for extremism in Britain." She also said this extremism cannot be defeated by force alone." And "British ideas are important." So let's examine them again here. What can be done to possibly counter those effects of 'Anything is Okay' modernism.'
Today, I should also apologise for those who have been following these articles as I have been relocating. However, in the process of moving, I was asked if I could help a budding writer. And it occurred to me this morning, that perhaps describing an artistic process for traditional values and standards for the arts in writing and painting, would perhaps help explain what has become so sadly missing under this current obsession for all things modern in the arts and educational processes today.
While these standards do of course still exist, albeit never spoken about, or properly considered by our media. So a first lesson background follows here accordingly.
Everybody in Art and Writing understands you are walking in the footsteps of giants. There are proven standards and rules. These are not open for interpretation but exist. Either we accept them and try to measure up, or we do not bother. While this reality did prove almost impossible for modernists in the past, who often chose art (Modern art) rather than writing, as it offered them the chance to cut corners and claim success, without the suffering and hardship needed to make truth, and honesty, appear beautifully. However in the past ten or fifteen years, with the dishonesty of conceptual art and its public presentation, came a need to write as well. So they created a new jargon modern art language which allowed them to promote these travesties without writing skill either. These they spiced with cheap philosophy and psychology ideas, deliberately to baffle the common man, and make what they did seem authentic and sincere.
Indeed, my last student came up against this at one of our top universities, where the staff made students study philosophy and write essays to support their conceptual teachings. My student had failed English, was not naturally academic advanced in a usual a given sense and found this a nightmare at first. It meant cobbling words together with clichés and other people's words and quotes until something could be produced. Now, without choice, with fear of reprisals, or poor references, my student has learnt to write certain pieces that are fine to read, but sadly miss the entire purpose of writing. I hope eventually to see a return to drawing, where I know my student has a proven route in art to reach the soul of vision and personal experience, which is valid for others to see, love, enjoy and respect – and is not just clever pointless wordplay.
There is a story that the beautiful French writer Guy de Maupassant asked Flaubert, a recognised French writer, "How do I write?" And he replied, "Go into Paris and describe a baker, but not just any baker, describe one in particular that we can recognise in difference to all others, and do it with just one sentence. " And naturally, he understood and could do that. These are the standards I have talked about.
So first things first – how can we do this? Practically, there can be only one voice or painterly vision. It cannot change when you analyse or replay it. It has to be that voice of truth you directly observed, not just one that suits your given opinions, which you may have been speaking for years, or somebody else's views. Nor should you need to interpret what you see. It should be for real life, for the writer or painter is not subjective, but has that lovely observed quality of actually being objective.
Today there is this perceived difficulty about individuality; how we all have to be an individual first in our work, our lives. This is, however, sad nonsense, for we are all individuals already. You don't need to have to be one, or try to think like one, as you are already one to start with. Nobody is the same as you. So let us forget that stupid red herring. Nor do we need to hear ridiculous statements, such as I am only painting or writing for myself. This is just pseudo bunkum. You are not ever writing or painting for yourself, that is false nonsense.
Finally, you are always writing to be read, seen and understood. This it is not a solitary individualist activity. Whilst, when you work from Life you will immediately feel a sense of truth. Then when you complete, it should convince us it is true too, not convenient, comfortable, or cliché constructed.
Of course, if you don't get it first time go back and make the journey again and again, until you do. These are the traditions we have for our standards in English and in traditional painting and they have never changed in practice. The problem today is that education no longer properly teaches these necessary standards and values, which are a long part of our culture, but is obsessed with these failed questionable ideas of unchecked modernism instead.
Copyright Charles Harris 2017