Miles W. Mathis on the arithmetic of art

This is the age of appeasement, of subordination. The artist is no longer the font; he is the shallow pool. Not the oracle, but the sump. The collection point of a thousand polluted expectations. The political tool of the untalented. The residue of education. The handmaiden of the self-appointed in social criticism.

For the critics have dished it out over the last hundred years, vilifying all, dismissing everyone and everything that could not be “pinned and wriggling on the wall.”

And the artist was silent.

Under the Usurper’s rule, modern art has become like Lewis Carroll’s four branches of arithmetic: “ambition, distraction, uglification and derision.”

And the artist was silent.

. . . . . . . . . .

Oh Fathers and Teachers, I claim that analysis is not art. Philosophy is not art. Politics is not art. Destruction is not art. Framing is not art. Finding is not art. Thinking is not art. Randomness is not art. Pathology is not art. Everything that a fool does easily is not art.

Fathers and Teachers, I claim that art is rare. Art requires talent. Art requires isolation. Art requires depth. Art requires subtlety. Art requires mystery. Art requires emotion. Art requires inspiration. The artist tells you what he must do, not what you must do.

Fathers and Teachers, I maintain that all art stands upon two legs: craftsmanship and character. Technique is not art. Emotion is not art. Together they may be art. Or not.

Miles W. Mathis


  1. That’s a good quote. But I made the mistake of looking at Mathis’s website. Moldy cow, conspiracy theory heaven!

    Mathis reminds me of something I read some time ago about an engineer inventing a new cross product to fix a problem he had noticed. The problem was real–it arose from simplifications–but the solution was a disaster.

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