Against the cancel culture


On Easter day, many chose to publish on their social profiles a painting dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ, among the countless ones that European art has handed down to us. Those who want to express eternal values, ideas and universal symbols - everything that escapes the grasp of earthly contingencies and remains immutable in the vanishing of generations - in 2021 are therefore forced to refer to the images of Giotto, Michelangelo, Bronzino, Guido Reni. Certainly not Damien Hirst's sharks in formaldehyde, Marina Abramović's self-injurious performances, or Banksy's murals.

After all, even those who are at ease among the delusions of progressivism and have fully embraced its dogmas and myths, like it or not, must resort to the much-maligned past every time they are forced to express something profound, essential. That past that in the era of cancel culture, one of the many follies born from the politically correct, has become something cumbersome in the eyes of today's iconoclasts. Naturally, we are talking about those who would like to delete Dante and Mozart - in deference to the culture of whining - or to increasingly impoverish the language, for example through the abolition of the subjunctive, reducing punctuation to the bone and using only tenses conjugated to the present.

In Orwell's 1984 novel, the impoverishment of language and the destruction of the classics of literature allow the Party to maintain and extend its totalitarian rule over the masses: one of its members states that “Newspeak aims at nothing more than to reduce the range of thoughts” and again “every year fewer and fewer words, and the space of consciousness always a little more restricted”. Of course, the Party does not know what to do with authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare or Milton and for this reason by 2050 “all the literature of the past will have been destroyed”.

Even today, as in the dystopian future foreseen by Orwell, the impoverishment of language is one of the main objectives pursued by power, since impoverishing language means impoverishing thought.

The more the language we use is rich in nuances and words, the more we are able to translate our thoughts, feelings and emotions into words: our ability to grasp and express reality grows in proportion to the richness and variety of our language.

And of course the same is true for images: the images we carry in our minds, those that give voice to our deepest terrors or yearnings - and that continue to shine like a treasure buried by heaps of debris - were eternalized by those artists to whom the iconoclastic fury of the apostles of ugliness would like to inflict a real damnatio memoriae.

Put simply, what the priests of the single thought dream of is a world in which there is nothing more to say, to look at or to hear, with the exception of the lies and ugliness spread relentlessly by the propaganda organs.

Power wants us to be dumb, blind and deaf, like so many animals led to slaughter, which are even precluded from expressing pain and fear in the face of the fate of death that awaits them.

Therefore every sliver of beauty - whether it is a verse by Cristina Campo [1] or a landscape by Rembrandt - is like a blade that tears the veil of darkness that oppresses us. Beauty creates cracks, breaches from which it is possible to escape from the prison of space and time: it is like a bridge thrown over the Infinite and allows us to remember Who we are and Who we come from. The task of art, as Plato repeats to us, is to remind us of eternal realities: it is beauty that allows us to reach our Center and to reach, in Dante's words, “where every place and every when is pinned”. Which allows us to ultimately escape death.

And it is precisely this that terrifies the tyrants of our time: the possibility that man remembers his immortal and divine essence and thus discovers that “eternal life dwells in him, an unexplored and yet inhabited land that even if he himself denies it existence, no temporal power will ever be able to snatch it away” (Jünger [2]). As long as beauty remains and with it the ability to recognize and express it, the forces of subversion will not be able to prevail.

God is beautiful and loves beauty”, a famous hadith says, and all that is beautiful is like a path that takes us back Home.




Original column by Flavio Ferraro:

Translation by Costantino Ceoldo