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Whoever undertakes to create soon finds himself engaged in creating himself. Self-transformation and the transformation of others have constituted the radical interest of our century, whether in painting, psychiatry, or political action.
America is the civilization of people engaged in transforming themselves. In the past, the stars of the performance were the pioneer and the immigrant. Today, it is youth and the Black.
American time has stretched around the world. It has become the dominant tempo of modern history, especially of the history of Europe.
No degree of dullness can safeguard a work against the determination of critics to find it fascinating.
One of the grotesqueries of present-day American life is the amount of reasoning that goes into displaying the wisdom secreted in bad movies while proving that modern art is meaningless. They have put into practice the notion that a bad art work cleverly interpreted according to some obscure Method is more rewarding than a masterpiece wrapped in silence.
Only conservatives believe that subversion is still being carried on in the arts and that society is being shaken by it. Advanced art today is no longer a cause --it contains no moral imperative. There is no virtue in clinging to principles and standards, no vice in selling or in selling out.
Politics in the United States consists of the struggle between those whose change has been arrested by success or failure, on one side, and those who are still engaged in changing themselves, on the other. Agitators of arrested metamorphosis versus agitators of continued metamorphosis. The former have the advantage of numbers (since most people accept themselves as successes or failures quite early), the latter of vitality and visibility (since self-transformation, though it begins from within, with ideology, religion, drugs, tends to express itself publicly through costume and jargon).
The differences between revolution in art and revolution in politics are enormous. Revolution in art lies not in the will to destroy but in the revelation of what has already been destroyed. Art kills only the dead.
The purpose of education is to keep a culture from being drowned in senseless repetitions, each of which claims to offer a new insight.
The values to which the conservative appeals are inevitably caricatured by the individuals designated to put them into practice.
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