“What is more precious: art or life? asked the two environmentalists who, a few weeks ago, in London, threw the soup on Van Gogh’s sunflowers. calm, and we would have been able to answer you without delay: art, of course. Pulluler is within everyone’s reach, microbes have been doing it for 2.8 billion years and, frankly, it’s a bit repetitive. After all, life left to itself, as it is, blind, overflowing, hungry, often turns into disaster, among the massacres, the final stake. The Germans (who know how to get around the final stakes) took over ten days later, preferring mashed potatoes to soup, to attack Monet’s sublimated wheels in Potsdam. Believing that we especially want French landscapes and Impressionism and its heirs.
Art or life? But art, in fact, is life contained in life. You have to be damn binary and first degree to see an opposition where there is dynamic continuity
Art or life? But art, in fact, is life contained in life. You have to be damn binary and first degree to see an opposition where there is dynamic continuity. The Cistercians said that spiritual asceticism allowed access to life and the shadow of life. The shadow of life is life as it is deciphered, as it is hidden, it is the life that life lacks, and art, among other things, serves to reveal it, this shadow that life lacks. But the low life, the purely material life, only organic, the Cistercians said that it was death and the shadow of death. A life promised to decay and death, therefore already death, but whose outcome we refuse to consider, an outcome that we veil, the shadow of death. If we take into consideration this subtler, more real dichotomy, to meditate on the question posed by our ecologists, we are no longer opposed to art and life, but to life coupled with its shadow: art (millstones and sunflowers revealed in the their splendor hidden by Monet and Van Gogh) or death that lies to itself, that is the life that these people defend, a life limited to the need for soup or puree and which has already lost to death, which one day or the another will digest these intestinal existences.
But this question about the necessity of art in relation to the material sufferings of humanity has already been posed by Judas. In the Gospel of John, while Mary Magdalene sprinkles not soup but perfume on Christ’s feet, the traitor accuses: «Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii to give to the poor? »Jesus replies in a cryptic way that we will always have poor people with us, but that He will not, which justifies the diffused perfume. What to deduce? Without a doubt, art is this perfume that makes God present after he has visited us and is no longer directly visible. We will always have to deal with misery and, if we have to alleviate it as much as possible, we will no longer eradicate it than death and, parallel to this obligation, there remains the need to make the divine manifest with the sprinkling of beauty in this waiting world.
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Judas does not care for the poor, in reality, as he steals from the common purse of the apostles. Even our museum ecologists don’t care about the poor, or even the planet. If we translate their action under a psychoanalytic prism, if we try to understand what their posture expresses behind their apparent speech, it becomes clear that these young people cry out not to be exposed to the admiration of the crowd, and that if they then stick to the walls of museums, is to fulfill their fantasy of being hung in place of Monet and Van Gogh. They demand to be regarded with equal interest. The promises of reality and Instagram have disappointed them. From now on they will plunder all the masterpieces of human genius if necessary, but it is out of the question that they go unnoticed. The price of Warhol’s quarter of an hour of fame is on the rise. We will end up burning all the monuments needed to get it. These activists have never sprinkled anything but their rebellious egos against the signs of a greatness that has humiliated them. They sold God for thirty pieces of personal notoriety and behind all the masks they brandished: presumably the planet, presumably the poor, only one mask claims its exposure: that of their self-esteem. But still behind, we who know how to read nature and what lives behind nature, we distinguish very clearly one last mask, and who smiles behind his antics, and his name is Satan.
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