January 5, 2010


Daniel Mitsui offers us this quote meditating on the role of kitsch filling up the void left without faith.

The oddest thing about kitsch, of course, is that its buyers & sellers can be compelled to fight with the fury of a crusader that their marketing postures are the Real Thing and should, naturally, be treated as such. The marketing success is proof of the reality of the technique; X number at the altar call proves that Y revival technique works. And do not for a second think that this disease is unique to Protestants: it encroaches on all religious culture in our society.

While we have been right to mock Rousseau's idea of the natural man, there has been less praise of his prophetic ability to see how, if left unchecked by moral law, bourgeois acquisitiveness would proceed to conquer all. Even scholarly thought would succumb to the urge for being fashionable, creating a more dangerous Inquisition than even the Jesuits whom he despised (we have not quite yet reached, in this country, the point where Rousseau said even mere belief in God would call down fury). When he saw in the person of Voltaire the forerunner of the modern intellectual celebrity, whose status as secular priest creates a new law through his fashionableness and popularity, well, we have only to look to see how right he was.

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