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Old 07-26-2019, 12:33 AM
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Re: Kitsch, “high art”, “low art”

Originally Posted by caldwell.brobeck
I would think there’s actually a pretty close connection between the velvet Elvises and the Communist kitsch that infested Kundera’s native Czechoslovakia. Is there any great difference between the social implications of a velvet Elvis and some work of Socialist Realism? It’s been 30 years since I read his The Unbearable Lightness of Being, maybe I’ll restart that next week.

As I recall he said quite a bit about kitsch in that one too. In fact, it now appears he was a bit obsessed with kitsch, but one must understand where he was coming from: as you note, a country completely infested and taken over by it.

Not that it was just the commie kitsch that got to him either: he had similar things to say about all those ornate gravestones in cemeteries. "Before oblivion, we are turned into kitsch," is how he put it. One can hope that he opted for a sky burial. :-)

I do like the definition of kitsch you note in a previous post: that it allows us to feel a sort of facsimile of emotion without having to actually be invested in it. Or perhaps even feeling very powerful and genuine emotions but without ever analyzing them or asking yourself whether they are justified. People have gone to war and died because they fell for patriotic kitsch, without ever asking questions.

But I find I am less and less interested in trying to work out what exactly kitsch is or whether I am engaged in it or whether it is a good thing or a bad one or neutral. Perhaps I am turning shallow as I age, but I find there are lots and lots of questions which I enthusiastically debated in the past that I have largely lost interest in. If I were at all capable of painting like Kinkade, I would not have hesitated a moment - the man after all made a fortune. :-)
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