Oct 4, 2006

Shocking enough for you?

Does art have to shock, offend, or "transgress?"? Two quotes, the first from Martha Bayles, writing about the recent Berlin Opera brouhaha, quotes the Berliner Zeitung:
"Nowhere else on earth does so much stage blood flow as in our theaters. Liters of the stuff are poured over people's heads, actors defecate, masturbate, and ejaculate naked onstage. And when people run out of ideas for how to get a few people to leave the theater in anger, they stick a cross right next to the orgy so that at least the local bishop will be obliged by his congregation to write a letter of protest. Then, the amassed intellectual forces of the Republic rally in defense of artistic freedom and give the poor bishop a proper scare."

Next, Terry Teachout, thinking about this week's school shooting, gives us Flannery O'Connor:
The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make them appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures.

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