Well, once again, I am reminded that computers and the internet cannot be trusted. May I suggest to all of you to write your comments in a word document before posting to the blog...
The Sacralization of Culture or, Cultural Taxidermy. As I was reading, I began to imagine a taxidermist performing his operations on a still living being. His feverish obsession with preserving his beloved always as a perfect object overshadows the truth of the living being before him. This is the sacralization of culture and it is well exemplified in the cases of the Chicago Public Library, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the NY Lennox library, among others. The temple – idealization, preservation – took the place of content – utilization, dissemination. The whole idea of “sacred culture” such as this is illusory. It is as if art’s inherent divinity was not sufficient; man had to give it physical confines in the form of tiered exclusiveness to confirm the fact.
Were Europeans as Eurocentric as Americans at this time? Judging from Mahler’s statements, I think not. It seems America suffered from an inferiority complex and became obsessed with what could never be realized, only idealized (Berlioz, anyone?). It is interesting to note that the most evangelical voices for the sacralization of music (at least the ones cited here) were not musicians but would-be musicians and critics. Poor Ives and the throngs of American artists whose artistic endeavors fell outside the confines of “culture” because they were real people working with real tools of the time. Real is never as appealing as the ideal, eh?
The story of paternal commercialism and the modern symphony in America is an interesting one. With independent financial backing, the orchestra was no longer dependent on the patronage of the community at large. It could sever all common ties with the community in which it lived and focus only on fulfilling its own whims and fancies. Is this art for arts sake? If not, who is it for? Who is it good for?