Before Big Hollywood gave Sonny the space to rebut Ben Shapiro’s execrable post about the Top 10 Most Overrated Directors of All Time — the site’s editor-in-chief weighed in. John Nolte aka Dirty Harry defended the Shapiro piece (saying “Bravo! Again, not so much because he defended it (one would hardly expect an editor to turn against his own writer in a public forum), but because of the way he defended it — with the most unconservative arguments in the book. We could all come up with lists like this, lists that defy the conventional wisdom in one area or another. Certainly there are those who somehow find themselves in the enviable position of being “cinematic tastemakers.” But… As with any art medium, no matter how schooled, experienced, educated or knowledgeable, when it comes to likes and dislikes, there is no arbiter. I’ll take a velvet Elvis over a Picasso or Jackson Pollock Any. I was careful to state that I don’t have anything per-se against someone not liking Hitchcock or any other director. So I say with no offense to any these gentlemen that their opinions mean nothing to me. Obviously, matters of pure taste are inarguable, aesthetic judgment is not mathematics, and nobody is trying to tell Nolte, Shapiro or anybody else what to like.And not just in the name of raceclassgendersexuality but also whole (much more serious and weighty, if often popularized and vulgarized) philosophies dating back to Nietzsche and Rousseau.We were attracted to conservatism because it opposed radical selfdom, radical subjectivism and radical emotivism.Artistic authority has no formal expression and/or we wouldn’t want to give it formal expression.But going from that fact to attacking it is akin to (actually just “is,” if in another field) post-war liberals thinking that informal (or “soft”) types of social authority as family, custom, elders, credentials, propriety, manners, etc., were mere oppressive prejudices and could either be done away with or replaced by more “rational” forms of authority, meaning government and law. ————————————————- ¹ Nolte’s phrase “who anoints the anointers” is a play on the Roman phrase “who guards the guardians.” It’s another symptom of our time’s sickness that a conservative thinks of artistic judgement in terms of a metaphor related to the domination that is government power.
Yes, subjectiveness is *IN* every aesthetic judgment, but that doesn’t mean every aesthetic judgment is NOTHING BUT subjectivity.
The recent movie (UNTITLED), which is in significant part about hucksterism in the contemporary art scene, had a very apposite line: “That is not my opinion.
It is my judgment.” The difference between opinion and judgment cannot be overstated.
The notion that artistic canons had to justify themselves anew every day to everyone is the natural territory of liberal authorityphobes and god-haters. there’s that other bugbear word, besides “opinion” — “authority.” Nolte nods in this direction with his passage about “cinematic tastemakers” and “anointers,” but immediately responds with, in effect, “who made them that.” The very fact that a conservative like Nolte takes us so quickly to the not-so-grand not-so-cosmic “sez who,” to any notion that smells like authority is itself symptomatic of the sickness of our time.¹ The short answer to Nolte’s question is “nobody,” at least not in any formal sense.
But art is no more like government than it is mathematics.