The Fate of the Arts   /   Summer 2004   /    Articles

A Response to “The Fate of the Arts”

Michael Levenson

We cannot assume we know what we’re talking about when we discuss “The Fate of the Arts,” this urgent but portentous subject that strains critical discourse. Consider first how the singular “Fate” and the plural “Arts” already set up a conflict that unsettles all discussion. Are there many “arts” or one “art”? If art is many, how can it have a single “fate”? Think, too, how these questions could not have been asked at all times in history. The grouping of the several modes, media, and forms—music, drama, painting, poems—under one heading (the arts) is an event within modernity, which has affected much aesthetic discussion, as indeed it affects the essays in this issue of The Hedgehog Review. The plural can be taken as a gesture of welcome inclu- sion. Indeed the contributors accepted the implied invitation to write at any level of abstraction they chose, about any art they preferred.

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