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The demystifcation of Culture



 “The smarter, the dumber.”

To me, art almost always speaks more forcefully when it appears in an imperfect, accidental, and fragmentary way, somehow just signaling its presence, allowing one to feel it through the ineptitude of the interpretation. I prefer the Chopin that reaches me in the street from an open window to the Chopin served in great style from the concert stage.
The German pianist galloped along accompanied by the orchestra. Rocked to sleep by the tones, my mind wandered in some sort of daydream—reminiscences, things that I had to get done the next day, Bumfili, the fox terrier. In the meantime, the concert continued, the pianist galloped on. Was he a pianist or a horse? I could swear this had nothing to do with Mozart but rather with whether or not this nimble steed would wrestle the bit away from Horowitz or Rubenstein. […] A pianist, a horse, or a boxer? It also seemed to me that he was a boxer who had mounted Mozart, who was riding Mozart, pounding and hitting him, jangling and jabbing him with his spurs. What’s that? He’s reached the finish line? Applause, applause, applause! The jockey got off and bowed, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief.
Diary, 1953 [Trans. Vallee]
There are enough innocent works that enter life looking as if they did not know that they would be raped by a thousand idiotic assessments! Enough authors who pretend that this rape, perpetrated on them with superficial judgments, any kind at all, is something that is not capable of affecting them and should not be noticed.
[…] That is why the defenselessness of art in the efface of human judgment is the sad consequence of its pride: ah, I am higher than that, I take into account only the opinions of the wise! This fiction is absurd and the truth, the difficult and tragic truth is that the idiot’s opinion is also significant. It also creates us shapes us from the inside out, and has far-reaching practical and vital consequences.
Diary, 1954 [Trans. Vallee]
« On arrive finalement devant le coin sacré où elle trône, Elle, la Joconde ! Salut, Circé ! Aussi laborieuse que lorsque je l’avais vue jadis, infatigablement occupée à transformer les hommes, sinon en pourceaux, du moins en nigauds ! […]
Ainsi chaque jour, depuis cinq siècles, une petite foule se rassemble devant ce tableau pour pouvoir bayer aux corneilles comme une bande de crétins… Clic ! C’était un américain avec son appareil photographique. Les autres sourient, indulgents, sans comprendre, les bienheureux, que leur docte indulgence n’est pas moins sotte. En gros, c’est la sottise qui déferle dans les salles du Louvre. Un des endroits les plus sots du monde. »
Journal, 1963
Until finally you get to the holy corner where she—La Gioconda—presides! Greetings, Circle! ... just as industrious and engaged as when I saw you last, indefatigably transforming people not into pigs, no, but into dolts. I was reminded of Schopenhauer’s horror at the thought of the eternity of the mechanism by dint of which some turtles have been crawling out of the sea every year, for thousands of years, in order to lay their eggs on some island—and every year they get eaten, after laying their eggs, by wild dogs.
Every day for the last five centuries a small crowd gathers before this picture in order to experience a cretinous gaping, this famous face stupefies their faces every day ... click! An American with a camera. Others are smiling indulgently, in blissful ignorance that their own cultural indulgence is no less stupid.
Diary, 1963 [Trans. Vallee]