Saturday, September 15, 2007

Beautiful Lies

Victory, Pax ---------- The Wounded

As I am reading Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, I came across a description of a Nazi propaganda film entitled Her Real Glory. What interested me was the way Molina (the character narrating the film in the book) describes the beauty of the film. Though Valentin (the communist revolutionary) finds it necessary to point out the lies within the film, Molina asserts that he appreciates it even so - regardless of whether he believes the message or not.

This brought to my mind a fairly well known quote:

"Art is a lie that [reveals] the truth." - Picasso

And so I began thinking (once again) about the relationships between art, beauty, and truth. What some would call Kitsch, others may label sincere. Certainly, Nazi propaganda was rightly disavowed by Greenberg, though in attacking kitsch, he shot the messenger for the message. But is it truly necessary for something to be true to be art? Can one, in this age, appreciate a work of art for its own merits (as Molina does) and not consider the political implications even if one disagrees with them.

"Beauty is truth, and truth beauty." - John Keats

Or is it a matter of the specificity of truth? What I mean is - the Nazi film did not present the truth in terms of its main content, but perhaps it did convey some truth: a truth about human nature. Yes, it served to strengthen the virility of the propaganda, but it also created a greater value in the work beyond the implicit meaning.

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