Totalitarian kitsch

Interesting slide show from the Times.

A friend was recently speaking with me about kitsch and his recent reading of Milan Kundera’s definition of the word.  From Wikipedia:

Other theorists over time have also linked kitsch to totalitarianism. The Czech writer Milan Kundera, in his book The Unbearable Lightness of Being(1984), defined it as “the absolute denial of shit”. He wrote that kitsch functions by excluding from view everything that humans find difficult with which to come to terms, offering instead a sanitized view of the world, in which “all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions”.

In its desire to paper over the complexities and contradictions of real life, kitsch, Kundera suggested, is intimately linked with totalitarianism. In a healthy democracy, diverse interest groups compete and negotiate with one another to produce a generally acceptable consensus; by contrast, “everything that infringes on kitsch,” including individualism, doubt, and irony, “must be banished for life” in order for kitsch to survive. Therefore, Kundera wrote, “Whenever a single political movement corners power we find ourselves in the realm of totalitarian kitsch.”

For Kundera, “Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass! It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch.”


I love how the museum hung the paintings.

I’d like to hang some Del Parson paintings that same way.

3 responses to “Totalitarian kitsch”

  1. dave! i’m really sorry, is this too long for a biscuit?

    if it looks stupid in that column, feel free to delete it! i really didn’t mean to hog up that column space.

  2. Dave says:

    No problem — check out the “more” tag I inserted. Also, blockquote! You grow in the ways of the blog, young Twitchell.

  3. lane says:

    thk u my mastr