Andrew Klavan on Why Conservatives Should Have Faith in the Arts

Editor’s note: Below is the video of author Andrew Klavan’s speech at the March 12th gathering of the Freedom Center’s Wednesday Morning Club. 

Click here to order Klavan’s new book, “Killer in the Wind.” 

Andrew Klavan – “A Killer In The Wind” from DHFC on Vimeo.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • justa mentsh

    ………..speaking of lacking social refinement:……

    ….a transcript por favor.

    SO! What shmendrik thinks we have 30 minutes to view their every bissel of gornisht video?

    • Richard J. Rapaport

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      • Flicker

        Nice web-site. I prefer the simplicity and innocence of Scientology.

        • defcon 4

          LOL. Watch out for low flying thatons!

    • Moz

      Complaining about not carting enough about the video to spend 30 minutes on it is a sign of social refinement?

      Also, too much jewbonics, its uncomfortable to read.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    The old joke (once used by Jonny Hart in a B.C. strip)
    QUESTION: Who said, "I don't know much about art; but I know what I like?"
    ANSWER: Art's wife.

    Klavan once said: "But we can't win back the arts unless we love them. Too many conservatives boast of their philistinism. "I haven't seen a movie in years," they brag, as if that were some sort of achievement."

    Art IS. - I say that as a conservative as well as professional artist, designer, art director, and former judge.

    As Clement Greenberg observed somewhere, "art is a matter of self-evidence and feeling, of the inferences of feeling, rather than of intellection or information, and the reality of art is disclosed only in experience, not in reflection upon experience."

    The chastening truth is that most good art reduces the critic to a kind of marriage broker, a middleman between the viewer and the work of art.

    Often the best thing a critic can do is effect an introduction, ……….and then just get out of the way!

    • tagalog

      Given the current quality of movies and comparing them with the quality of the movies of yesteryear, the past couple of decades come off pretty shabby in the movie arena. In the 30s and 40s, even some "B" movies have become classics. Then, they made so many movies that the movie theaters changed their bills every three or four days, Today, try to remember the name of some high-budget blockbuster. If it's more than this year or last year, I bet you'll have some trouble coming up with something that's classic.

      The philistinism is among the artists, not among the viewers of art.

      • defcon 4

        It's used to be funny how the auteurs blame their audiences for their failures, now it's just pitiful.

        • κατεργάζομαι

          Petticoat – You nailed it!

          • κατεργάζομαι

            defcon 4 – You nailed it!

    • Flicker

      Come on. Art is an attempt to create, reproduce or display the greatness and beauty of all creation; it is a fundamental reflexion of God's creative nature which he instilled in man, which He created in His image.

  • James P Riley

    "Sexuality is the metaphysics of materialism." (Can't remember who said it, but it's true.) The left worship sex because it's the closest thing they will have to a spiritual experience. "Conservative art" has to include romance and sexuality, but it has to a) put it all into its context –a pleasure that is contained within a framework and b) it should never descend into a purely physiological experience, i.e. pornography. Klavan's absolutely right that good art has to, by its nature, confirm the cosmic architecture that God created. Example: you simply cannot tell a "heartwarming" story about an abortion, because it's heartbreaking. Example: you can't show your boobs in a movie that is called "art" and then not expect to be embarrassed at the Oscars, because female modesty is a built-in reality.

    • Jim_C

      So there's this movie called "40 Year Old Virgin." It's a comedy, rated R, fairly raunchy at times.

      It's also, like all Judd Apatow's movies, very truthful about relationships, and very sweet.

      What's at it's core? A man who is preserving his virginity until he finds and marries true love.

      Immensely popular. Definitely adult-oriented. Hilarious. But good-hearted. There's a lot of gratuitous sex, and even more gratuitous violence. But when these things are depicted truthfully, they work.

      • James P Riley

        Hit the wrong reply button. Comments below.

      • tagalog

        Good flick. It's one of the few that generated lots of laughs for me.

    • Flicker

      It’s interesting that Andrew should point to unrestricted sex and sexuality as the only absolute right in the liberal world view, because it’s the first command God gave to man, and it was built into our genes, hormones, psyche and issuing culture. And so if one wants to foment rebellion against God, it stands to reason its perversion would be the primary area of assault.

  • clarespark

    Klavan's talk reminds me that the debate between determinism and free will is alive and well. I attempted something to clarify it here: "Babel vs. Sinai." But I think he could have said more about "moral relativism." That notion is related to anthropology and the idea that societies with different material environments and institutions may have different ethical systems and different explanations for Nature and its vicissitudes. That our current popular culture is hypersexualized and bad for children, should not even be controversial. I agree with that judgment.

  • James P Riley

    I have to admit that about the most I can remember of that film is the hilarious telephone advice of the East Indian customer service guy, helping Steve's character with his problem. My sense is that a movie can be both "funny" (not too difficult with sex) and "sweet," but also run the risk of creating the sense that human sexuality is a casual reality, so "casual" that it is totally bizarre to contemplate the reality of a forty year old virgin. I can't remember the ending, and a lot of my theory about good vs bad art depends not so much on what is discussed but the conclusions that are reached.

    • Jim_C

      Sure, and I know what you mean, but I think it's tied up in social mores. There was a lot of sex in my parents' generation, but it wasn't discussed and therefore it wasn't casual. I'm glad sex is now a subject for discussion but I am not crazy about how casual some can be about it. Never have been.

      I guess I bring up that film, and Apatow as well, because he does such a good job of humanizing sexual relationships (making the subject less "casual" and more substantial), writing good female characters (Hollywood's perennial weakness) and even bringing up sexual consequences (Knocked Up). Relationships, and the consequences of involving yourself sexually, I think are the ingredients that lend the proper import to the subject. If you look at the attitudes of movies from, say, the 80s to now–we've actually improved in this regard.

      • James P Riley

        I think Klavan's point (and yours) are well taken in this respect: you almost cannot tell a story or produce a film that doesn't end up confirming God's architecture for the soul. Take a show like Mad Men. Don Draper gets all the beautiful women, and you would be tempted to think he's getting away with all of it, but when Bets finally catches up to him, and you see daddy parting, and the children unable to understand why he has to leave, it's a very powerful argument against infidelity. I sense you're saying the same thing about Apatow as well, that he doesn't pretend sex is without consequence. As a content creator, I would draw the line at the point where the depiction of sex essentially has a physiological effect on the audience, or where you feel you would morally compromise the actors in asking them to portray the moment. Trying to find the balance between some bland, sexually antiseptic "faith movie" and Game of Thrones is the question.