Perhaps not but they should pay more attention to it, a fairly conservative scholar argues in an essay which appeared in The Imaginative Conservative. “Most conservatives think of culture as a museum, rather than as an organic continuity,” Gregory Wolfe writes in The Imaginative Conservative. “They are all in favor of promoting the classics, but when it comes to contemporary culture, they have simply opted out.”
“To be sure, the modern era has been cursed with a tremendous amount of shoddy, obscene, and meretricious art; certainly, the scandalous and the sensational works by the Mapplethorpes, Warhols, and the Serranos have come to represent the art of our own time. One can argue, I think, that High Modernism reached its limit, and that it had to go the way of all artistic styles. But, to quote an ancient dictum: abusus non tollit usus. The abuse of a thing does not nullify its proper use. If conservatives would look about them, they would see that our century has also been blessed with a tremendous amount of superb art. It is another truism that art tends to flourish when civilizations are in crisis.”
Wolfe is the director of the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing Program and writer in residence there.