“The contemporary explosion of avant-garde innovation in literature, art, and music is wholly unprecedented. The nearest thing that comes to mind is the outburst of sectarian innovation at the time of the Reformation, when every yokel felt competent to start a new religion. Obviously, what our age has in common with the age of the Reformation is the fallout of disintegrating values. What needs explaining is the presence of a receptive audience. More significant than the fact that poets write abstrusely, painters paint abstractly, and composers compose unintelligible music is that people should admire what they cannot understand; indeed, admire that which has no meaning or principle.”
Hoffer published those words more than 40 years ago, yet they seem strangely relevant today. With everyone having more tools readily available to create and distribute literature, art and music, it is no surprise that the present-day generation has had its own explosion of innovation in all these areas. Thanks to the Internet and social networks, almost anyone can create a “work” and reach some kind of receptive audience in the matter of seconds. Indeed, this receptive audience not only admire the “work”, they would go on to promote and share it.
Hoffer seemed to have been more upset by the existence of an admiring audience than by the creation of “avant-garde” works. Are such works never valid, simply because some of us find them “unintelligible”? Or do you believe that since all “art” was once new and therefore different, innovative works deserve at least acceptance (not rejection) if not appreciation? Where do we draw the line between “pop culture” and “legitimate’ art? Keep in mind that Baroque music was the Rock & Roll of its day. Let us hear your thoughts!