In this video, Robert Florczak, artist and illustrator, shares a succinct and lucid exposition on how we have allowed creativity to be taken over by man’s lowest and most base qualities of character. He’s referring specifically to painting and sculpture, but it’s just as true in the field of literature.
I see it most predominantly in poetry — with the modern attitude toward poetry being one that snubs its nose at any work that is based in the strict disciplines of meter and rhyme. These two characteristics of poetry have literally been the major components of judging a poem’s quality and excellence for generations. Now, everybody and his brother claims he’s a poet because he writes a few prose lines of symbolic jargon, breaking those lines in a helter-skelter pattern (which translates to NO pattern), and which says absolutely nothing that makes sense to most reasonably intelligent minds. (Let me hasten to add that everyone who writes free verse is not guilty of this sin, but a huge number of them are guilty.)
And the publishers of poetry overwhelmingly cater to these works, turning up their noses at the skilled poets who have expressed beautiful thoughts in forms that required them to actually discipline themselves and apply real mental and psychological effort at creating their work.
I recently read a piece of free verse by a poet (whose name I will not give) who was being praised and promoted in a publication that is available world-wide. I read the piece. Then I read it again. I could not understand it at all. Now I admit I’m not “the smartest person on the planet,” but I have a substantially high IQ, I have a college degree, and I have spent years teaching English, composition, and literary interpretation to high school and college students. With that kind of experience under my belt, if I literally COULD NOT even understand that piece, then it was trash. It’s good for nothing. Why was this publication promoting that particular man and that particular poem when thousands of other poets had written perfectly understandable and exceptionally beautiful works in the same year? I’ll tell you why. Because the public has bought into the lie that art is now supposed to be something that insults our intelligence and our highest moral instincts.
We see the problem, not just in poetry, but in all literary art. To me poetry stands out, but in truth, the dedication to ‘trash’ in literature is most easily seen on the movie screen. Where do those scripts come from? Well, to be sure, some of them are written specifically for the big screen or for TV, but a great number of them are taken from the novels currently on the market. So what does that say about those written works? You’re right. They fall into the category of trash as well.
So am I saying all modern literature and art are trash? Absolutely not. But we as a society have stopped discriminating between what is real art and what is trash. We’ve let the trash mongers take the lead and take over. As Robert Florczak says on this video, we need to get back to taking the time to judge the works put out there in the marketplace and refuse to purchase, visit, celebrate, advertise, or support the counterfeits that offer us no genuine excellence or beauty.
Let’s get back to truly appreciating genuine art — the works that actually inspire and enrich us because of their profound and life-elevating qualities. The works that required all-out commitment to excellence and tireless work and discipline on the part of their creators, so that they would be worthy of being accepted as true art. When we get back to judging art as we should — and responding appropriately with our money and our time — we’ll start seeing the trash tossed into the garbage heap where it belongs. And we’ll start seeing more real artists stepping up to the plate to create pieces that will make our lives richer.