Despite its sirenic wiles, Romanticism remains the most poisonous antidote to man’s search for ontological meaning in an absurd world (to Camus’ dismay, anyone has yet to die for it). Our rebellious fathers, themselves the great sons of the enlightenment, brushed off the creed of rationality and truth to instead worship the sentiments of the individual. Slowly, art became the performative enterprise through which voyeurs announced themselves to the world in hopes of vindication from the goliaths on Olympus. Objective works of beauty and the sublime were discarded in favor of acts of desecration. The treacherous romantics have stolen fire from Prometheus: we have slain the steward of our higher aspirations.
McGoblintown airdropped McGoblin Burgers to goblins today. If anything can count as art, what is the point in trying to achieve that distinction? We are left with the vapid observation that some people look at some things and other people others. The suggestion that art aims to provide objective values and lasting monuments to the human condition and cultural zeitgeist is dismissed out of hand as dependent on an antediluvian conception of the artwork that was washed down the drain of Duchamp’s fountain. The argument is enthusiastically embraced since it appears to liberate people from burdensome notions of culture, telling them that venerable masterpieces can be dismissed without repercussions, that Trolls or literal “pieces of shit” are on par with Azuki and gnomes the equal of Fidenzas, since nothing is better than anything and all aesthetic claims are equally valid outside of the kingdom of god in the realm of man and goblins.
Introibo ad altare Dei. Glory be to ShitGod, my Lord, my Executioner! Raise me from this wasteland as thou raised NFTs from the dead. Release me from the ineluctable modality of the visible. Purge the infidels from thy domain so that none are left who do not submit to thy scent. Oh, Lord Most High, Creator of desolation, great Harbinger of doom, thou has already triumphed in thy Manichaean struggle against Matt DesLauriers and Tyler Hobbs. I pray thee have mercy on my fallen brethren and listen to my eulogy in silence.
None care any longer that it matters that works of art have a function in relation to you and me. None care that it matters what art you absorb into your life. None care that we have taste. None care about the things they carried. If art is to consist of objects of aesthetic interest, aesthetic judgment naturally concerns itself with what you should and should not like. I believe that the should here—even if it is not exactly a moral imperative—has moral weight. There must be no beyond good and evil. It is true, however, that people no longer see works of art as objects of judgment or as expressions of the good life, since there is no distinction between good and bad taste, but only between this and that and your and mine.
Imagine now a world in which people show an interest only in literal shit plungers, grotesque gnomes, assplosions, boobbirds and moondicks, or similar phallic symbols lifted from the debris of life and displayed for the sole purpose of theatrical satire or attention because they are (supposedly) anti-establishment “free mints.” This is increasingly the standard fare of recent NFT collections. What would such a world have in common with that of Construction Tokens, Garden Monoliths, or RGBs? How does that portray the NFT space as a whole to adventurous outsiders? What about the new voyager into Web3 who is smothered by the crushing weight of goblin rocks? They will get burned and leave forever while miners laugh from Inferno.
Of course, in this brave new world, we would still have in common 1. the act-in-itself of putting objects on display, and 2. the very fact of our observation of such fecal matter through elevated aesthetic monocles. But, I’m afraid, this would be a world in which little else is common. Higher human yearnings for transcendental platonic forms will no longer find their artistic expression in our worldly creations. The noblest masters would no longer make for mankind the sublime images of the absolute. Mounds of rubbish will pile at the headstone of man and the graveyard of the creator economy. Mors vincit omnia.