catapult magazine

catapult magazine




Feb 03 2005
11:49 am

I think that kitsch is to the imagination as sugar is to the diet. It occupies a tiny place at the top of the food pyramid. A little bit is O.K. now and then for dessert, as long as you’re getting your “three squares” of the four food groups, but if you try to live on it, aesthetically speaking, (as shockingly many people try to do) it will soon do to your mind what a steady diet of sugar will do to your body.

Hmm. I can see a new line of *cino t-shirts already: This is your brain on kitsch.

I like Kundera’s idea that, given its proper context in relation to the reality of death, even kitsch can be transformed. There’s a wonderful book by Alfred Appel, Jr. called “Jazz Modernism” that describes how a lot of early jazz performers like Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong transformed sentimental, kitschy tunes of the day into art by deconstructing them and reinterpreting them in the context of their own music and experience. Kitsch as a denial of death is a denial of life. By acknowledging and confronting death, suffering and oppression, kitsch can be transformed into celebration.