Monday, November 7, 2011

The Jade Sphinx at 100

No, I am not 100 years old, appearances to the contrary.  Rather, this post marks my 100th entry to The Jade Sphinx.  When this blog started last April, I approached it with considerable trepidation.  Is there room (even interest) on the Web for a blog dedicated to the Fine Arts?  Indeed, aren’t the Arts (with a capital A) an elitist construct, somehow profoundly anti-American, and mostly irrelevant?  Even more important – would I be able to sustain it?
So it is with a great deal of satisfaction that I can say now, 100 posts later, that the Arts are not irrelevant, and that there is a healthy interest in them.  The Fine Arts remain a vital part of the American conversation and continue to inform and inspire.  With little or no outreach, The Jade Sphinx has managed to survive 100 posts with reads well in excess of 10,000.  That somebody out there other than myself cares has, more than anything else, made my experience a deeply pleasurable one.
It has taken some little while for The Jade Sphinx to find its voice and mission, but I hope that it has evolved into something that you enjoy reading.  We will continue to feature book and film reviews, overviews of artists both historical and contemporary, interviews with writers and artists, and turn a critical eye at our contemporary culture.  But more importantly, The Jade Sphinx is a celebration of beauty and seeks to be an oasis for those interested in the Fine Arts in a cyber culture that is too often contemptuous, ironic and vulgar.
Readers will also have noted that I make frequent references to Oscar Wilde as patron saint of this blog.  That is not intended in any way as ironic or meretricious; it was through my youthful readings of Wilde that I first realized that art (and its essential component, beauty) were necessary ingredients of the human experience, and were part and parcel of what made life worth living.  And while this column would never argue that art and beauty trump morality, compassion, tolerance, generosity, wisdom or kindness, it would indeed argue that art without meaning and without beauty is a cold intellectual game hardly worth playing.
One last thought – our arts today are too often merely entertainments.  Americans are, as a people, entertaining themselves into irrelevance.  The Fine Arts often have the ‘stigma’ that they are hard work, require intelligence, that too much thinking is involved.  Well … that’s right, though it’s hardly a stigma.  It is wonderful to be entertained, and I will confess to liking just as much trash as the next fellow (perhaps even more!), but entertainment does not supply the nourishment, the life-affirming qualities, and the insights both personal and cosmological, that can be found in the Fine Arts.  If you have to work for it – it’s probably worth having. 
Let’s hear from you.  What of The Jade Sphinx has made you think?  Moved you?  What painter or picture or book or writer have we introduced you to?  And what would you like to see next?  Let us know.
For the rest of this week, we will be focusing on the Biblical story of David and Goliath and how it has inspired artists for centuries.  Come back tomorrow – and the day after and the day after that.
Many thanks,

James Abbott

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