September 28, 2014
Does kitsch matter? Would my museum of kitsch serve any purpose except to flatter the sense of cultural superiority of those who recognize kitsch as kitsch and paradoxically even flatter those who like it and decorate their houses with it? After all, most people suppose that what is exhibited in public must have some intrinsic worth, and that therefore a museum of kitsch would be an endorsement of their taste. And does it really matter if people pour their tea from a teapot shaped like a rabbit or a thatched cottage, if that is what they want to do? Moreover, a world that was aesthetically perfect would be as tiresome as a morally perfect one would be. Man is not made for sublunary perfection.
Some people have said that kitsch is morally as well as aesthetically reprehensible, and certainly it has often attached itself to the vilest political movements. But to say that evil is often kitsch is not the same as saying that kitsch is often, let alone always, evil. All a can be b without all b being a.
But while it is true that a world without aesthetic imperfection would be intimidating and possibly dispiriting, that is not to say that, given the present aesthetic state of the world, aesthetic improvement would not be welcome. We have a long way to go before the problems of perfection will worry us. I still think my museum of kitsch might serve an educational purpose.