Thanks to decades of progressive parenting and corporate emasculation, the Father, lamed and ailing for a long time, is no more. Our Twitter-empowered, ungovernable children have taken over. Consequently, life in contemporary America is now like life in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” in which a six-year old boy with otherworldly mental powers terrorizes an entire town into craven submission to his every whim.

It’s a toss up what’s worse: being disappeared into the cornfield or being forced to read Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

Sacred Ground

Everything ever held to be sacred is from a modern perspective a prejudice, a groundless, irrational belief. What as moderns we fail to notice is that the sacred is groundless because of a deficiency in the modern perceptual apparatus. The sacred is groundless to us because we are unable to apprehend it as ground, as what supports reality as opposed to what has to be interrogated about its reality.

“Pride believes in disbelief,” said Maistre.  Modern intellectual acuity is a blindness. Dare to not be clever.

The Marie Antoinette Effect

White liberals today resemble those spoiled French aristocrats who prior to the French revolution sponsored the intellectuals and philosophers whose ideas were shortly to be realized by the cutting off of the heads of their sponsors.

A ruling class that has enjoyed its privileges too long, at any rate too long to remember how these privileges were gained, begins to tire of its purposeless existence and long for some novelty to alleviate its boredom, some cause to endow it with moral purpose. Boredom and vacuousness encourage a flirtation with “dangerous” ideas  of “justice” and “equality” whose actual realization seems quite remote.

Then, one day, the mob storms the Bastille, and the reign of terror begins. This, typically, lasts for a relatively short period until a new order emerges along with a new ruling class, freshly endowed with the will to rule. The ideals of justice and equality are realized as new forms of injustice and inequality. Things change in order to remain the same.

Today’s white guilt is in reality the ultimate form of whiteness, the privilege of the privileged to disdain privilege. As with Don Ciccio in The Leopard, it is the peasants (the Deplorables) who steadfastly remain loyal to the old decrepit regime, only to suffer the contempt of both the waning ruling class and the new “progressive” replacement.

Opportunity always favors opportunists.


Feminism and related idiocies are not the cause of the degeneration of the West. They are its products.

By now, we ought to be speaking of Western Civilization strictly in the past tense. It is an expired civilization. Whatever cultural activity we observe among its ruins is the activity of putrefaction.

Women take over when the men have perished or become impotent. This is what the “empowerment’ of women means, an indicator that the ripening of a culture has progressed to corruption.

The apocalypse isn’t in the future. It has already happened. Fantasies of future catastrophe (global warming, nuclear war, runaway artificial intelligence, alien or zombie invasion, etc.) are ways of avoiding the recognition that the catastrophe is already behind us, that we are living in a postapocalyptic world.

Western societies will continue to decompose while clinging to the fantasy that their decomposition is advancement. Their elites will continue to find in their flaunted stupidities proof of sophistication.”Diversity” and “inclusion” will continue to flourish. Nobody will notice that decomposition is indeed a process of inclusion, for that, ultimately, is what a surrender to entropy entails, the breakdown of all distinction and segregation and the merging of everything into formless fluid.


What the effort to nullify the past (disparaged as patriarchy and embodied in the figure of the dead white male) achieves is the replacement of culture by fashion.

When fashion rules so does perversion because the flaunting of perversion is the quickest way to establish uncommonness. This should explain why contemporary elites, who unlike the aristocrats of old do not inherit their distinction but must perforce affect a simulation of it, are such eager enlistees in the war against reality that is “progressive” thought.

The ravages of devaluing and demonizing the past, however, extend further.

When the present is everything, one exists only in the moment and only to the degree that one can gain the attention of the moment. To fail to do so is existential nullification, a fate worse than death.

The terror of being overlooked by the present drives both social media “addiction” and acts of random mass violence. Underlying both phenomena is a desperate striving for the attention of a capricious, overpowering, monstrously present present from which no distance is possible. That is what the dismantling of patriarchy really means: total subjection to the obscene vagaries of the present and the powerful, without the slightest hope of redemption. In the bad, old patriarchal days, they used to call this condition hell, but we emancipated postmoderns are bereft of even the means to name it.


In the premodern era, women were goods. Modernity transformed them into free agents, but as free agents women ceased to be women. Emancipation unsexed them. The same thing happened to men when they were emancipated from the burdens of manliness and became “free’ to remain adolescents for life. Modern societies are therefore increasingly societies of the unsexed, formless aggregations of the unformed. This is the true meaning of “gender fluidity.” What is celebrated as fluidity is freedom from form, surrender to entropy. What is called postmodernism is a formula for packaging this surrender to decomposition as a willed transgression of norms.

Identities vs Ideas

If identity is everything, ideas mean shit. If it is the who that counts–who thinks the thought, who makes the thing, who performs–than the idea, the thing, the performance is nothing.

Identity “politics” is the negation of politics. It is willed stupidity. More than that, it is willed bigotry covered up by the rhetoric of minority rights.

The sleep of reason produces monsters. But first, it produces idiots.


The hardest thing for any man to achieve is worldliness: getting past his own anxieties, injuries, petty ingrained prejudices, vanity, sentimentality and seeing the world as it is, with a keen eye for what endures and hides under shifting forms.

The worldly man stands apart from popular crazes and fashions. He is neither reactionary nor progressive. Least of all is he an “activist” of any kind, being perfectly aware that changes come of their own accord and for reasons that their ardent promoters themselves cannot fathom.

He knows that trying to “change the world” is as much of a fool’s errand as trying to prevent it from changing. The world has its own reasons and it employs fools to achieve them.


The dismantling of Western masculinity has been ongoing since at least the “Enlightenment,” but was initially hidden from view by the modern heroicization of industry and industrial labor and the association of masculinity with the figures of the industrialist and the militant worker. What in recent decades appears in the West as the triumph of an emasculatory feminism is really the collapse of this modern fantasy of entrepreneurial and proletarian prowess. The oversized figure of the former “captain of industry” is now reduced to the proportions of the typical, larvally arrested Silicon Valley CEO. Old John Henry is a screen-fixated drone confined to a cubicle. The truth of modernity turns out to be the transformation of machine-worshiping and machine-reliant man into a machine, or worse, a machine appendage, with all that implies about the redundancy of gender. The myth of gender “equality” issues from this functional abolition of the gender distinction. “Equality” is predicated on sameness; it imposes sameness. But this imposition is only possible when the markers of difference, in this case sexual difference, lose their functional/social value. This liquidation of gender is masked by the myth, the ideology, of female “empowerment.” But what modernity empowers is not women but an unsexed hybrid. The “empowered” career woman is no longer a woman but a phallicized freak, a forced mutation. Likewise, the modern, accommodating, pliable, “sensitive” male is no longer a male but an equally synthetic product, a complementary modern abomination. Today, surgical transgenderism brings into the open the price of the Faustian bargain between man and machine. It becomes evident that the modern “liberation” from the cruel exigencies of nature was achieved by the wholesale artificialization of the human, the self-disfiguring transformation of both sexes into Frankensteinian oddities.


Once you get past the period rhetoric about taking art out of the galleries that surrounds Earth/Land art, it becomes possible to detect in it a nostalgia for the kind of muscular, heroic, infrastructure building that once defined American modernity. The odd thing, looking back at this type of work with the knowledge of America’s subsequent deindustrialization, is that there were artists in the ’70s who were already sensing the shift. For it is precisely at the moment that a technology or a set of technological operations are becoming obsolete that they become available to artists as aesthetic tools.

The ’70s in America were the twilight of the New Deal era and the beginning the neoliberal asset stripping of the economy. Today, America seems to produce nothing but speculative financial instruments and ever-more-strained Hollywood fantasies.

What was in the process of being “dematerialized” in the course of the ’70s was the American economy itself. Art followed suit. As it always does.


Through worship of the gods, men once acknowledged the fundamental inhumanity of the cosmos.

When the ideologues stormed the temples, the gods, the ambassadors of the unseen, were already departed . The gods did not die. Something in men died. The light went out of their eyes. And stupid grins disfigured their faces.


The toxic effect modernity has had on the human organism goes largely unremarked as we focus instead on the more easily visible devastation around us. Thus, while it is readily and broadly acknowledged that modern development has poisoned the planet, the fantasy persists that it has made us, its human beneficiaries, into better, more enlightened, more tolerant, more moral beings.

We fail to see that the mutagenic effects of modernity have not spared us. Blinded by the progressive idea that our progressive notions are improvements over those of our supposedly primitive forebears, we hallucinate that our stuntedness, our degeneration, makes us tower above them.

Thus, although progressive thought openly revels in its unnaturalness, in its violation of traditional norms, in its disruption of gender, in its promotion of every form of intellectual and aesthetic aberration and deformity, it evades detection as being of a piece with the larger anthropogenic destruction of nature. We fail to notice that modern technological magic has inflicted its most deleterious effects on those closest to it, its inventors and practitioners.

In science fiction, which projects onto the future what is already in the past, mutation tends to be equated with physical disfigurement. Modernity’s most damaging effects, however, are spiritual. And of these, the least visible is the loss of the ability to judge spiritual disfigurement, to see our own degradation for what it is.

Venus Envy

One doesn’t have to puzzle too hard to understand why contemporary Western elites hate Western culture. It’s because they know that they are constitutionally incapable of producing anything that would match or even come close to the grandeur of the gifts that hardier, manlier, braver, sterner elites dispensed. The animus against the Western canon doesn’t come from below, from the “excluded” and “marginalized,” in whose name it is attacked. It comes from the privileged po-faced shrews (and their sissy allies) who want to moralize the masterpieces of a civilization, its canonical paragons, into oblivion–in order to make room, a safe space, for the reverent reception of their own shriveled droppings. The result is what goes under the rubric of postmodernism, an ideology that explicitly celebrates failure and lameness.

The barbarians cannot arrive soon enough.

Unhinged Progressivism

Unlike the aristocracy it displaced, the bourgeoisie could not rely on lineage to assure its social status. Bourgeois elevation was bought; hiding this took some doing. Lacking noble lineage, the bourgeoisie ennobled itself by expressing noble sentiments. I should think this accounts for the progressively unhinged character of progressivism, which must always be straining to distinguish itself from both common sense and common decency.

Marxist Conservatism

One ought to recognize in the Marxist critique of capitalism a covert loyalty to an antecapitalist community. Marx was too sophisticated, too urbane to throw in his lot with those he dismissed as utopian socialists, yet, as his early writings show, his animus against capitalism derived, like theirs, from a reaction against capitalism’s desecration–desacralization–of traditional, patriarchal norms. He was, at heart a romantic reactionary, but forced by intellectual vanity to give his anticapitalism an avant-garde “progressive” cover, a project facilitated by the mental suppleness he absorbed from Hegelian dialectics.

If this covert nostalgia for the predeluvian past at the heart of Marxism is acknowledged, then the tendency of communist revolutions to bring to power archly paternal figures like the Man of Steel and the Great Helmsman can be appreciated as preservative of an ancient notion of regality. In effect, communism was able to give an absolutism threatened by the encroaching democratic corruption a new lease on life, thus safeguarding in distorted but still recognizable form the authority of the Great Father. Insofar as masculinity and what today is disparaged as “authoritarianism” are essentially the same thing, communism can be credited with having found a way to reinvent heroic virility as a modern virtue. This is why the monuments and edifices that remain from the Stalinist era, despite efforts to dismiss them as bombastic anachronisms or icons of “totalitarianism,” are paragons of aesthetic probity compared to the hysterically performative structures to which the postmodern cult of lameness has accustomed us.

Communism ultimately failed because, like modernism in general, it could not sustain the contradiction of attempting a modern, secular, humanist revival of a world that modernity, secularism, and humanism had destroyed. Nonetheless, the passing of modernism has left a void because modernism, for all its paradoxes, was the last heroic gesture that a senescent Western civilization was capable of before it completely surrendered to flaccidity.

The New Puritanism

Feminist prudery can be explained in fairly simply terms–provided one is honest about what sex entails.

Sex is always “degrading” to women because for the woman, it is always an act of submission to the man and the enjoyment of that submission. There is no other way to interpret a woman opening herself to a man. On a primal level, it is a woman’s surrender to invasion , to conquest–but also a welcoming, an embrace of the conqueror. Sex is never a coupling of equals. Indeed, the very notion of equality is fatally anti-erotic.

Feminists (hysterics) cannot yield, cannot surrender, either to men or to their own desire, and, therefore, cannot enjoy sex except by inventing fictions that cover up what is involved. Fundamentally, a feminist is a woman who cannot tolerate being a woman.

Perhaps modernity has something to do with this misgendering–which appears to affect both sexes. Perhaps feminists are women unsexed by the paucity of real men and the overall destruction of patriarchal authority. Perhaps capitalism and modern industry unsexed the modern woman by conscripting her into the workforce and making of her a masculinized competitor with men.

What is certain is that sexual equality guarantees the eventual extinction of every society that adopts it as a goal.

Midas Touch

Art has always served power but in the premodern period, power, though associated with wealth was not its product. Contemporary power is corporate. It is the power of dead capital, which means that we are subjects not of the Sun King or the Pope but of the nameless, seemingly contingent forces that rule the global economy. This is a power that art is hard-pressed to exalt. The real story of modern art, once one gets past the self-heroicizing bluster of the avant-garde, is the story of the difficulties that had to be surmounted (the craft that had to be forgotten, the qualms that had to be allayed) before art could be sufficiently debased to serve capital.

For art to serve capital, it had to develop the means to give vacuity the appearance of effervescence. And beyond that, it had to develop means to glorify a wholesale inversion of values. Adapting to an ugly age, art learned to glorify ugliness. Adapting to a materialist age from which the sacred had been banished, it learned to glorify superficiality. Adapting to an age of diminished men, it learned to glorify stunted tastes and feelings. Adapting to an age in which the worship of technology had nullified virility, it learned to glorify effeminacy, lameness, and confusion. Adapting to an age “emancipated” from patriarchy, it learned to glorify perpetual adolescence, impotent rebellion, and formlessness. At every step, these adaptations had to overcome the resistance of artists, intellects, standards of taste and probity that retained some filiation with nobility. Finally, with the advent of postmodernism, a succession of triumphs over every lingering trace of decency was consolidated under a rubric that apotheosisized perversion and made an explicit principle out of the elevation of the marginal.

With each step forward into debasement, the diminution of quality has been accompanied by an expansion of quantity until, today, the term art is applied to the slightest affectation. We are now drowning in the excreta of swarms of “performative” mountebanks. Everything today is tainted by “art.” It is as if we are afflicted by the modern equivalent of the Midas touch–now revealed to be the curse of the total commodification of the world and the transformation of everything in it into a hectoring signifier of exchange value.

The deeper meaning of this wholesale artification of the late modern world is that it is driven by the need to aestheticize spiritual, cultural, and artistic degeneration, making the evil consequences of capital’s dominion appear deliberate, provocative, transgressive.

This is the fundamental mystication that underlies all modern “countercultural” ideologies. Thus, capital’s desecration of sex and sexuality is given the cover of a rebellion against “heteronormative” and patriarchal strictures. The destruction of tradition and the banalization of every aspect of existence are given avant-garde lustre. And, finally, every possible degeneration of taste, manners, and character is affirmed as “progressive,” so that the fatuous notion of progress becomes a synonym for civilizational putrefaction.


One can grant that formalism once served a purpose as a bourgeois antidote to the bourgeois moralism that threatened to envelop art from the moment it was “emancipated” from aristocratic patronage and became a signifier of bourgeois elevation. The limitation of formalism has always been that it could never be more than a secular stopgap against the profanation of art. In this, it is of a piece with Kant’s overall attempt to rationalize tradition, without his comprehending the violation that such a rationalization would inflict on the rationalized principles, whose authority is either absolute (and inhuman) or else nonexistent. All of formalism’s notorious blindspots, starting with Kant’s ridiculous notion of disinterested judgement issue from this misguided effort.

The economic stakes involved in the game of art should by now be sufficiently evident to not require more than a mention. Yet formalist discourse withholds even a mention. It completely forecloses any hint that the work of art circulates as a commodity. The aesthetic object (which only becomes an aesthetic object after formalist discourse has succeeded in dislocating it from any context other than that of its connection with other such dislocated objects) undergoes an isolation that forces its meaning to depend on a wordless communion with a subject who is conceived as equally removed from any symbolic network. Once this operation is accomplished, all manner of ineffable qualities can be found in the object corresponding exactly to the investment that went into ripping it out of its context. In other words, what the formalist worships in pure form is his own capability to abduct the object from every relationship other than with himself. Pure form is the mediating term of narcissism.

That the formal qualities of an object structure its meaning is not to be disputed but form has meaning within an intersubjective (social, cultural) context. The discourse of beauty never takes us far here because beauty only indicates the effectiveness of the Gestalt, the lure. This lure only has a purpose within a structure that structures a subject to be caught by it. The object is the embodiment of a pact, which as Lacan never ceases to insist, is what every symbol is first and foremost. Ranciere’s hallowed statue of Athena is erected and placed in a temple to reinforce the group identity of the Athenian citizenry–which is why the looting and destruction of temples and public monuments is one of the priorities of conquering armies to this day.

Panofsky defined art as consisting of objects that “demand” to be considered aesthetically. But if objects demand anything, it is because they are apprehended as speech, which always calls for a response. This is what formalism does not want to know, in so far as it wants to preserve the aesthetic object in its alienation as the mirror image of the self, a self already conceived as an object, an ego–so that the aesthetic experience can then take place as an encounter between objects. For it is only as a relationship between objects, both mortified to the point of inertness, that one can postulate the disinterest of disinterested contemplation.

What we encounter in formalism is in fact typical of modern anti-modern ideologies, which recoil from the banality of modernity but are compelled to oppose this banality in modern terms (i.e. on rational, secular grounds) because they dare not affirm tradition.


One could trace the beginning of Western decline to the moment when the West becomes enamored of the notion of progress and of a conception of history that is linear. Such a conception indicates a removal from the reality that matters, a loss of contact with eternity, which is timeless and circular and knows nothing of progress. Thus, from the moment the West assumes that it possesses a history that elevates it above other progress-deprived civilizations, it is already profaned and degenerating, and the vaunted history of its progress is actually the history of its senility.


Artists have to please much the same perverts that high-class whores do. And like whores, artists, too, have to pretend that they are self-motivated, that they put out because they enjoy it.

But what are the perverts after?

Some tangible, consumable sign of their alterity, some token that enables the rich to straddle both sides of the law: to be at one and the same time comfortably and smugly ensconced in the establishment and posing as its subverters.

The remarkable thing is that this collusion between pervert artists and pervert patrons can still somehow generate satisfaction despite the transparency of the collusion. For this, I think, we have to thank the abiding myth of the avant-garde. Officially, the avant-garde ceased to exist, oh, around 1960. But in reality the myth simply mutated. The cult of the modernist avant-garde mutated into the cult of postmodernist hipsterdom, which fulfills an identical function but without the utopian trappings of the former and, for that reason, with greater efficiency.

The figure of the hipster embodies the pervert fantasy reduced (or refined) to its essentials: conformist nonconformity, the covert acknowledgment of the law and its simultaneous disavowal. The pervert gets off by abusing/disabusing an imaginary innocence in which he is, perhaps, more invested than anybody else. Since this process can go on forever, we must assume that art too can go on forever despite its perennial promise to abolish itself by becoming indistinguishable from “life.”

Relational Aesthetics

Why the idea of art survives: Because even a dead horse has its use. It breeds maggots. It facilitates a social occasion.

At any given art opening, the more theatrical of the attendees easily outshine the work on display. When relational aesthetics became the vogue in the ‘90s, the rubric validated what had been happening in art since the ‘60s, if not earlier: the occultation of the work of art by the art milieu. Warhol appears to have fully grasped the implications of this when, at the end of the ‘70s, he came up with Shadows, a work that once adorned the walls of Studio 54. As usual, he was ahead of his time. He did not need to wait for Bourriaud to inform him that the production of art had become ancillary to the staging of an art scene.

Somnolence of the Woke

The post-’60s transformation of the Western left into a liberal avant-garde allied with the worst, most debasing tendencies of capital has had as its logical outcome the transformation of working class resistance against capitalism into working class resistance against liberalism. Today, whatever is of any intellectual interest emanates from this anti-liberal awakening.

Meantime, in a galaxy far, far away, “woke” liberal academia is stuck in a somnolent time warp, still dutifully engaged in deconstructive projects that are the intellectual equivalent of pulverizing piles of rubble into piles of finer rubble, bravely tilting at a phantom white patriarchy, demolishing canons kept alive only in the minds of those who want to abuse them and completely blind to the fact that its “transgressions” are affirmations of ruling-class self-exemption from reality.

Coke vs Pepsi

The “culture war” is an argument between fools. The conservative fools want capitalism without capitalism, “free enterprise” and the Ancien Régime at the same time. Liberal fools want to abolish what capitalism has already abolished, the old paternal function, and replace it with something more arbitrary and totalitarian, the rule of “sensitivity.” The conservatives pine for the old master. Liberals would prefer a dominatrix. Between them they have succeeded in reducing political discourse to a choice between inanities. This is why the categories of political affiliation align so nicely with those of consumption, Apple versus Microsoft, Honda versus Ford, etc. Identity politics is not, as is often supposed, a strictly liberal phenomenon. It is the default of politics reduced to brand choice.


Duchamp had shown the way but his readymades remained for a long time encapsulated and quarantined within the transgressive aura of Dadaism. With Warhol, the integration of the artist into the market becomes overt: “Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art.” From this point on, the untenable model of the avant-garde artist operating on or outside the margins of society survives only in fantasy.  The critics, rightly fearing that in the age of Pop, their hieratic expertise was becoming irrelevant, did their best to ironicize Warhol’s perfectly explicit declarations of his crass ambitions.  The true irony, however, was that their efforts ensured the market value of work that might otherwise have failed to return a price above that of what it appropriated. A good part of Warhol’s genius, such as it was, was to recognize that there was virtually no limit to the intellectual self-contortion his critics were willing to undergo in order to safeguard the mystique of the avant-garde and the benefit they derived from positioning themselves as the avant-garde’s esoteric intermediaries. 

But Warhol also accomplished something else. Photography had threatened to make even the most uncommon objects common, at least as representations. Warhol turned this photographic devaluation of the uncommon on its head. He was able to turn the most debased photographic representations into objects of uncommon consumption. A can of soup, a bottle of Coke, a discarded picture of Marilyn, all these and others became superlative luxury items via the performative magic of Factory appropriation.

Warhol was famous for saying that he made a painting of Coca-Cola bottles because the popular drink was something that he and the queen could equally enjoy. What he left unsaid was that after the transformation of vernacular image into Art, only royalty could afford to purchase his particular brand of Coke.