From a newsgroup post dated April 23, 2009:
Over on rec.arts.sf.written there’s currently a discussion (in a monster thread entitled “Socialism in SF” that’s 90% crap) about the decline of the West as evidenced by the sorry state of the fine arts.
That’s a subject I find interesting, even though I think 90% of everything everyone says on the subject is wrong — not the alleged sorry state of the fine arts, but what it says about the state of our civilization.
I’m trying to give shape here to a bunch of complicated and conflicting ideas on the subject, and I’m not finding the words. Instead, let me ask everyone out there for opinions:
Are the fine arts in a state of decline?
Does it matter that opera and ballet are now largely the province of a tiny faction of old-fashioned elitists, given that we have movies and other new media?
Does it mean anything for the health of civilization as a whole if the arts are in a state of decline?
Does it mean anything for the health of civilization as a whole if people think the arts are in a state of decline?
Feel free to bring up historical examples like Ming pottery and Byzantine literary forms.
This did not yield any discussion. I suppose I misjudged my audience.