Et tu, Louie?
Louie CK, like for many, has been my latest preoccupation in today's comedy scene. Unlike some professional tricksters, he cleverly brought his essence (albeit perhaps contrived at times) to his humor. Now we find out he was fallible to weird sexual proclivities brought upon by a power dynamic he took advantage of with several women. The dark underbelly of comedy has crossed another line.
His actions are not defensible and this blemish probably recontextualizes my relationship to his art. The demarcation between art and the artist has always been a challenging one, since great art has not always been made manifest by great men.
But let's consider the outrage in this time in culture. Could it also be that our sensitivities have resulted from the secular edifice we now stand on? Maybe if we took transcendence more seriously, we wouldn't take ourselves so seriously. Instead, we have become fragmented and tribal, looking for our next scapegoat to release our existential anxiety and anger. Some justly deserve their fall from grace, others are just a product of their time.
Speaking of our times, one astute facebook poster observed that “students are trying to deconstruct what they have not properly constructed yet.” As such, we are burdened with a generation full of contradictions: “they are dogmatic about relativity, ethnocentric about cultural acceptance (you’re either an “ally” or an enemy), hateful in the name of compassion, etc.” Again, it's a good prognosis that can't be equally matched with a proper cure. We just have to go through it, and see what we have wrought.
I suppose we can also grapple with what in culture today will remain tomorrow. We speak of some artifact groping for the Eternal. NPR recently considered this with music. I am not sure what music from today will last through the ages, if any. But there are some examples I would place bets on. For instance, take a popular gem from Al Green. It's about as perfect as you can get with soul music, and it nearly fulfills Josef Pieper's insight: “Music opens a path into the realm of silence. Music reveals the human soul in stark “nakedness,” as it were, without the customary linguistic draperies.”
Al Green, incidentally, gave up his commercial success to do gospel music. He probably got to the place where he felt soul music wasn't enough. But this was:
And then there are lesser known gems that deserve more recognition: