Popular Culture, Schooling, and Everyday Life

By Henry A. Giroux; Roger I. Simon | Go to book overview

purely formal and internal history of art. The others, the uncultured, merely lack the code, but they are presented and may sometimes understand themselves as ignorant, insensitive, and without the finer sensibilities of those who really appreciate.

So the hyperinstitutionalization of art is very divisive, but the ultimate danger, it seems, is in the terminal decadence and growing irrelevance of the separated sign -- the appreciation of form for form's sake (aesthetics), with no content or associated creative process. The elite may sit at the opera house knowing all the allusions, references, formal differences, and internal histories of what they see and hear -- knowing only too well that others do not know these things. But they may simultaneously be bored through and through with the institutional shell emptied of the creative meaning which was once its grounded aesthetics and raison d'etre. Apart, perhaps, from some possible immediacy of sensuousness in color and pattern, it is difficult to see that late, modernist avant-gardism has ever enjoyed a grounded aesthetics. The late modernist fine arts may mark the point where aesthetic production itself, never mind its appreciation, has become a wholly formal exercise.

If traditional or conventional aesthetics are to be recovered, it will be in their regeneration of themselves for another generation through the work and social dynamism they offer -- respecting what is or may be represented, transformed, or changed, rather than merely the forms of what is represented.


CONCLUSION

The aim of the inquiry can be simply stated. It is to make a provisional reversal in what seems to have become the accepted chain of logic in society-that art produces culture. A comparative or historical view readily grants that different cultures produce different arts. But this awareness has worn very thin in our everyday sense of our own culture. We need to say again: Cultures produce art, only a small part of which is ever recognized.

This prompts questions. What if the cultural forms of everyday existence and identity are made the subject not the object of aesthetics and creative expression? What if we make the working assumption that the young are already engaged in imaginative, expressive, and decorative activities, but they are not recognized? What if the young are seen as already, in some sense, the artists of their own lives?

From the basis of some substantial answers to these questions I hope to make a set of wide-ranging and specific policy recommendations -- a platform for discussion and development in the diverse areas of public policies on the cultural industries; training policies, youth policy, and provision; local authority and other provision for the young and for the unemployed; and policies generally for subsidy and support for arts and cultural activities.

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