Aphorisms are unpolished, unedited thoughts, straight out of the mental oven — errors in my argument or things that don’t make sense are likely and your pointing them out would be more than welcome.
Roundabouts the end of the second World War, the Modernists, among them Joyce and Woolf, et.al., were replaced by a new generation and movement in literature, and also in philosophy and visual art: postmodernism, a movement which called into question, quite ironically and cynically, the whole nature of art and whether it accomplishes anything at all. In literature we saw the rise of metafiction, which called attention to the nature of the story and the existence of the reader (breaking down something called the “fifth wall”); in art one can see the rise of “modern art”, in which there is no clear meaning, and indeed the art seems to be just a random collection of symbols or objects or designs (the common defense being that one simply doesn’t “understand” the art); in philosophy, most notably, there are the semioticians, Derrida and Foucault, and their ilk, who explain the so-called paradoxes of language and signs, and the subjectivity of the human mind.
There are very few intellectual responses to postmodernism, the only one I am aware of being the sentimental yet lexically incredible fiction of David Foster Wallace (my favorite author). This seems to suggest that art is dying out; at first I thought this might be attributable to the fact that great art isn’t revered as great in its own time, but afterwards, but after a little bit of research it seems that past times have been boundlessly more artistically inclined than our present, hyper-gluttonous 21st-century society, so focused on self-satiation and consumerism and competition. This is a true tragedy, and it is all around us; are movies like Taken and books like I, Alex Cross (by the megalomaniacal money-machine James Patterson) really art? Do human beings, as they live today, have any need for art? People go through their lives without any revelations of wisdom or passage into higher thinking-planes, and never experience the weight of existence and the profound search for meaning that influenced literature in past generations. We were raised by a cynical batch of postmodernists, and we as a generation shall have no cultural revolution, no new movement, no response to the elusive tyrant that is postmodernism: we are beings who can, when we are sad, avoid analysis of our sadness by watching Fast Five or indulging in an absurdly caloric Happy Meal; I fear that even wondrous modern books such as The Kite Runner shall not survive the journey through the years, and that the history of art, and literature and particular, shall wane severely over our generation and those that immediately succeed it.