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    The Decline of Western Civilization through the Lens of Art and Gender

    The cultural critic Camille Paglia is a critic of identity politics, especially with regards to gender. She has said that the proliferation of different identities, the different gradations of gender, and etc., often happen in the late-stages of a culture, before the verge of collapse, where all kinds of amoral behavior result, such as homosexuality and sadomasochism, which are basically signs of decadence (her words, not mine.) Is there any truth to this? Do you think that identity politics, especially of sexual and gender identity, is a sign of the fall of Western civilization, specifically the United States? Give specific examples from art of any medium to support your claims about the decline of Western civilization.

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      Latest Comments

      I am surprised that there is no mention of HBO’s Deadwood anywhere here, both in the article and in this comment section. Although it set in a different time period than No Country, Deadwood is a Western that portrays amoral and nihilistic characters. Deadwood also portrays the inevitable tragedy of change like No Country, with new, rival interests pouring into the town of Deadwood, reordering the established dynamics of the town. Deadwood does not portray the white populace of Deadwood in a positive light, a direct challenge to the themes of the traditional Western.

      No Country For Old Genres: McCarthy, The Coens, and the Neo-Western

      Great article. However, you have only talked about the political plot points in the book. As Martin himself pointed out, some readers have correctly predicted the ending of ASOIAF. Most of these theories pertain to the Prince that was Promised and Azor Ahai. These prophecies are much bigger than the petty fight for the Iron Throne. A prediction for whoever the Prince that was Promised or Azor Ahai is is a prediction that I’m much more interested in.

      The Winds of Winter: 12 Major Plot Points to Anticipate

      Not to sound pretentious, but as an artist myself, I often find that art critics find meanings in the artwork that the artist did not intend for. Most artists bullshit — this is the truth. As one myself, I would often draw random doodles on my notebook, and some of my friends would debate among themselves the meaning of my scribbles. Sometimes I go along with it, but eventually I reveal that my drawing are meaningless.
      My drawings usually consist of nudes. This was natural to me, so I never considered that my drawings were shock art. Of course, my sketches of naked, suffering human beings often shocked people. I would often make up a meaning — “Oh, this drawing represents the suffering of women in the world,” to describe a leashed woman on all fours. “Oh, this drawing represents the desire to modify one’s own image through plastic surgery,” to describe a grotesque collection of deformed figures. Some it is definitely true that artists bullshit, very often actually. So, I would advise people not to always believe the meaning that the artist puts forth. For example, Andres Serrano, the creator of ‘Piss Christ,’ said that his photograph represented the commercialization of religion, of Christ’s image. The art critic Camille Paglia called him out on it, saying “So that’s why you called it ‘Piss Christ,'” believing that the artwork was intended to irritate people instead of enlighten them.
      As an artist, albeit a horrible one, myself, I believe that the value of an artwork lies in the amount of skill and creativity needed to produce it, as explained in Dennis Dutton’s TED Talk “A Darwinian Theory of Beauty.” He explains that the value we place upon a work of art is determined by the amount of skill and work it took to create it. The more difficult, the more valuable. One can clearly see this in the Apple app Auxy Music Creation, which allows the user to create music simply by tapping the screen. The resulting beat often sounds amazing, but the user does not feel like an accomplished musician simply because he/she tapped the screen a few times.
      Another topic that the writer brought up was the question of the canon, the ‘official’ list of great and important works of art. The controversial art critic, Camille Paglia, believed that the canon is determined by artists themselves, not the consumers, whether it be art critics or the public. She said that the worth of an artwork as part of canon is based on the influence that it had on other artists over time.

      Shock Art: The Name Says It All