Posted by Jill Fallon at January 10, 2011 10:48 AM | Permalink
At its best, art expresses a culture’s best virtues, greatest beauty. But these days, art is more often lauded–or at least given attention–if it is unintelligible, pornographic, subversive, disrespectful, and/or denigrates cherished values or religious traditions. One such value is the respectful way in which dead human bodies are supposed to be treated. We respect the dead because it is a way of respecting the lives that were lived in those bodies, and more broadly, the importance of being human.
When human bodies are plasticized and put on display as if they were having sexual intercourse, and a baby’s skull is studded with diamonds, it isn’t art. It is a nihilistic and decadent disrespect for the dead–which in a sense, means all of us, since we are all headed in the same direction–that speaks, I fear, of a deepening darkness in the culture.