Grendel’s Laundry List: Kundera On Kitsch

trump tank

This is kitsch.

The fact that until recently the word “shit” appeared in print as s— has nothing to do with moral considerations. You can’t claim that shit is immoral, after all! The objection to shit is a metaphysical one. The daily defecation session is daily proof of the unacceptability of Creation.

The aesthetic ideal of the categorical agreement with being is a world in which shit is denied and everyone acts as though it did not exist. This aesthetic ideal is called Kitsch.

“Kitsch” is a German word born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century, and from German is entered all Western languages. Repeated use, however, has obliterated its original metaphysical meaning…Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the figurative senses of the word; Kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.

Kitsch is the stopover between being and oblivion.

Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! 

It is the second tear that makes Kitsch Kitsch. The brotherhood of man on earth will be possible only on a basis of Kitsch.

Whenever a single political movement corners power, we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch. When I say “totalitarian,” what I mean is that everything that infringes on kitsch must be banished for life: every display of individualism (because a deviation from the collective is a spit in the eye of the smiling brotherhood); every doubt (because anyone who starts doubting details will end by doubting life itself); all irony (because in the realm of kitsch everything must be taken quite seriously); and the mother who abandons her family or the man who prefers men to women, thereby calling into question the holy decree “Be fruitful and multiply.”

In the realm of totalitarian kitsch, all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage backdrop and gives us a look at what lies hidden behind it.

Milan Kundera

frightening trump crowd jesus

This is frightening.

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