Why is art so bad today? It is bad because the main patron is the state—or charitable foundations intertwined with the state—and the state has no personal discrimination. It follows, therefore, that the state patronises art that does not reflect and amplify reality but rather distorts and inverts reality; and this is what we find—even when there is no overt ideological message within a film or song the product itself will invert reality. I would say, by contrast, that true art is alive and at least almost as alive as reality.
Meaning derives from the immediate perception of reality in its totality, and so is opposed to objective-based or sequential activity. Music, particularly classical music, contains the highest expression of meaning outside the natural world itself, since it is a reflection and amplification of the rhythm in reality, the rhythm of life—of nature herself. Classical music could not be sold as pop music was sold on the radio, in three-minute chunks, because a symphony has to be taken as a whole to mean anything, so there is a non-commercial aspect to art insofar as commerce has an objective.
Art is not really saleable, or, rather, it cannot be produced with a particular objective, such as a sale, in mind; but my point is not socialist, because art cannot be produced to fulfil a production demand from the state either. Art is only produced thanks to a patron; and fine art is only produced by a patron with taste and discrimination. So a personal stake or responsibility is constitutive of art production; but it is the stake of a man with discrimination in taste. I submit that the state, with its reality-distorting ideology and impersonal bureaucracy, has no ability to patronise the arts; neither, for the most part, do today’s many billionaires, because they owe their fortunes to the state—even if indirectly.
Thanks to sites like Patreon, the general public has been allowed to patronise the arts and entertainment more generally. This has led to some improvement, in a populist spirit, since what the man in the street wants is usually more realistic than what an ideological bureaucrat wants to see. “I know what I like in muh video games, Lara Croft with big tits and guns thank u very much,” says the video games enthusiast. This issue was at the heart of Gamergate in 2014; an event that marked the moment when the state noticed video games, decades late (the state moves slowly), and, in particular, noticed their social status and ideologically suspect content. Gamergate was a populist reaction by people who enjoy video games, as opposed to journalists concerned that there were insufficient opportunities to play transsexual characters in shoot ‘em ups.
However, the masses are still distorted by state propaganda themselves and not everyone has taste, just as not everyone is a superb athlete or an intellectual genius. So the improvement from populism is only marginal; the base desires for sexually attractive chicks in video games, for simulations of Roman conquest, and big guns are more real than state ideology and yet represent base and unsophisticated desires. Incidentally, video games are not art; they are games, just like the board game Monopoly—a game has specific objectives, it does not simply reflect reality; although to make the pursuit of those objectives attractive video games mimic reality. There is only a need to assert video games are art because gamers feel guilty about their pastime and want to make it seem more than it is—their grandparents played whist and the like, but video games lack card-induced cachet.
Unfortunately, the state has noticed sites like Patreon and expanded its writ to the populist patrons; so even the man in the street who says, “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like,” finds that what he wants to fund on Patreon is “hate speech” or some other confected crime, and so we remain quite starved for beauty.