Saturday, March 29, 2008

Reality Vs. Modern Imitations of Reality

By Fred Martinez

Icon historian Andrei Navrozov, in the June issue of Chronicles, agrees with Bell that art can either be about "gaining a deeper understanding" of reality by symbols or can "mimic" reality.

Perspective was first invented in 470 B.C. by Agatharchus as a means of "geometric illusionism" to mimic reality in stage sets for theater, according to the icon historian.

Navrozov said the "theater set is conceived as a fiction, whereas [an icon] is born as an attempt at truth of life, an attempt that in no sense compromises the integrity of the original [reality]. ... They are symbols of real life, not lifelike imitations of reality.

"There is no deeper conflict in history than that between these opposing views of art. 'Is art to serve reality and the individual under God or is it to serve [materialistic] realism and the masses under communism?"

Navrozov shows us that the modern battleground against God and reality is imagery and the imagination. Michael O' Brien, in his book A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind, said that the imagination is the way that mankind comprehends "God's territory" and his created "invisible realities."

The modern imagination, according to O'Brien, has lost "God's territory" by returning to its "pre-pagan split in consciousness," which is the Gnostic rejection of the "sacramental" unity of spirit and matter, the addiction to occult tales of will to power like Harry Potter, and the relativistic denial of good and evil with ends-justify-the means storylines.

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is for O'Brien a prime example of a return to the Western Christian epic tradition of the moral imagination, which comprehends "God's territory" and his created "invisible realities."

O'Brien wrote: "The discernment of the right paths that must be taken, if good is to triumph, is dramatized in the myriad geographical, emotional, spiritual, and symbolic choices faced by the questers. In each of these, Tolkein's world is faithful to the moral order of the universe, to the absolute necessity of freedom. Middle-earth is a "sacramental" world, an "incarnational" world. ... Spirit [invisible realities] and matter are never portrayed as adversaries."

The Western Christian culture was rooted in this service to reality and God. Reality was the belief in the objectivity of things that are both material and spiritual. During the last two to five centuries, materialistic modernity has been the adversary of this spiritual and matter "incarnational" worldview.

This "incarnational" reality was rooted out and refilled with the lone materialistic science and "realism" in art worldview in which reality was contained only within material objects that could be tested or seen.

Spiritual (invisible) realities like God, love, beauty, responsibility and free will were neither seeable, material nor testable, so they were not within modernity's realism.

Modernity attacked the primacy of realistic philosophies such as Thomism and realistic symbolic literature like Dante's spiritual epics and Shakespeare's dramas contrasting persons who were symbols of the conflicting real worldviews of modernity and the older realistic philosophy.

Hamlet's "To be or not to be?" illustrates what the two cultures were in conflict about. In our time, Bill Clinton ("What is the definition of is?") is the symbol of modernity's denial of "to be" or objective truth or falsehood.

Modernity, in its desire to stamp out the Christian culture, dislodged Thomism realistic philosophy and realistic symbolic literatures with Pavlovian behaviorism as well as the materialistic reductive studies and application of art, which represented only material acts. Such as Freud's deterministic reduction of all symbols of the mind to represent only the physical acts of sex and Picasso's sexual anti-art.

This cramped reality of only the materially seeable or testable led to rootlessness and alienation, which was so unbearable to modern man that there was a reaction. According to philosopher Allan Bloom, Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of disbelief in all reality, seeable or unseeable, material or spiritual, became the language of the American reaction.

Friedrich Nietzsche's values philosophy led to the subjectivity of all concepts of objective truth, which included good and evil.

Many will remember when President Reagan called the USSR "the evil empire"; he was roundly criticized for violating the new language of "beyond good and evil." This language of value relativism allows for neither the words nor the symbols of evil and good.

Nietzsche's anti-reality philosophy of "God is dead" led to the anti-heroes of politics and art.

In society this led to the denial of the concepts of absolute truth and the law of identity in reality by modernist artists such as Pablo Picasso and by politicians such as Clinton. This rejection of good and evil in turn led to the degrading of women and sexuality.

In the case of Picasso, E. Michael Jones in Degenerate Moderns says:

"His break with the traditions was an index of his hatred not only toward the spiritual values of the West but toward the human body and spirit that the West prized as good. In the end, the only thing that Picasso portrayed realistically was the woman's crotch. Modern art had returned to its roots, and the gaping crotch was the only thing now that could keep the aging Picasso in touch with the real world."


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