Art is for Everyone. Art is for You.

Taking a plot straight out of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” so-called experts promoted the most dubious artistic efforts as the pinnacle of creativity, accessible only to those who were as worthy and sophisticated as those insiders who passed judgement on quality. Agreeing with these pros became a shortcut to connoisseurship, with all its penumbras of high status and urbanity. Admiring the beauty of the Emperor’s nonexistent outfit became a gesture adapted by those eager to belong to the upper castes.

Meanwhile, all those who believed art should actually demonstrate recognizable skills and meaning were left confused. We trusted our institutions, and now our cultural institutions were rejecting those aspects of art we could connect with. Most were left feeling, “I guess I just don’t understand art,” and turned away.

Art was no longer for the people; now it was a Doublethink rite of passage. Accepting absurdity as art was made into a filter, mandatory for those who aspired to be worldly.

The way to defeat this power grab is simple. In art, believe in your own judgements. Art is for everyone. Art is for you. Any expert who says otherwise is a phony looking to elevate themselves at the expense of others.

Real art is self-evident. It does not require justifications, references, or a specific education to function. While a particular work of art might not appeal to an individual’s taste, there can be no denying its presence as art.

Those with specialized knowledge might appreciate nuances others overlook, but real art offers something for everyone to enjoy. It’s okay to not be able to articulate why you like something. Art is something we should experience, not explain.

What makes for quality art? There’s some good rules of thumb to start off with which devastate the whole Postmodern program.

If a work of art requires a separate…

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Women Openly Dumping Their Husbands for Selfish Reasons – Podcast #56

Aaron M. Renn

When I started the Masculinist, the church was a barren wasteland for advice on sexuality. I barely saw anyone else writing constructively about even the most basic issues—things like attraction, the differences between men and women, marriage, divorce.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars – Keto and Vegan Friendly

These easy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are low-carb, gluten-free, sugar-free, and plant-based! These make a great allergen-friendly dessert that everyone can enjoy.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar on a plate topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

What’s better than cheesecake? Not much in our opinion! One of our favorite creations so far are these Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars that are not only low-carb but free from dairy and eggs making them completely vegan.

We love this easy pumpkin dessert for fall

These Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars have three delicious layers:

  1. caramel layer – this is based on the caramel in our Keto Magic Bars.
  2. crust layer – graham cracker crust but gluten-free and low-carb!
  3. pumpkin layer – creamy deliciousness, made with either fresh cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin. Make sure not to use pumpkin pie filling as it is very high in sugar.

Wondering how to make your own pumpkin puree? Follow these steps:

  1. First, wash your baking pumpkin with water and pat dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin into quarters
  4. Scoop out the seeds (save them to make roasted pumpkin seeds!)
  5. Place the pumpkin cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork, about 45-60 minutes
  6. Scoop out the soft flesh and transfer to a blender, blend until smooth

Storage: You can store your homemade pumpkin puree in the freezer for up to one year or in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also can the pumpkin puree for a shelf-stable option!

Ingredients in Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Since these bars are plant-based there are no dairy ingredients like sour cream or cream cheese. Don’t worry though, these bars taste just like traditional cheesecake just made with plants. If you’d like…

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When Painter Philip Guston Started Over

The same art establishment that had led Guston astray rejected his new direction. His subject matter included sinister yet bumbling Klansmen as stand-ins for fallen humanity. These works remain so charged that a recent retrospective tour had to be delayed, to avoid conflicting with contemporary politically correct dogma. The topic Guston exposed here isn’t racism, it’s evil. 

Far from safely accusing others of sin, Guston was admitting his own weakness in these ambiguous works. “They are self-portraits,” he confessed. “I perceive myself as being behind the hood.” These were fearless portrayals of a man now mature enough to own his faults and failings. Guston’s paintings became blunt and powerful as he revealed life as he lived it, in oblique symbols. 

Philip Guston followed this course for the remaining years of his life. He shared a story of what happened during the horrified reactions to the exhibit which unveiled his new direction. “When [painter Willem] de Kooning saw the show, after embracing me, and congratulating me, he said: ‘You know, Philip, what your real subject is? It’s freedom!’’

This is response to cultivate when life attempts to force us down, and away from our goals. Find freedom, and then get to work.

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Protecting Your Opponents from Themselves – Podcast #55

In my previous podcast series on American conservatism, I observed that they have a pattern of jumping into the breach to try to defend their opponents from the consequences of those opponents’ own ideology. For example, they defended the school administrators against the student radicals of the 60s when the administrators themselves were liberals implacable hostile to conservatism. In fact, some of those university leaders had previously trashed William F. Buckley over God and Man at Yale. We see this pattern persist into the present, most recently on display last week when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would eliminate gifted and talented programs in the city’s public schools. Conservatives were outraged. I discuss this reaction and what it reveals about conservative patterns of behavior.

My previous podcast “Once More Into the Breach”

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The Masculinist #57: Life’s Not Fair

Welcome back to the Masculinist, the newsletter about how we live as Christian men and as the church in the modern world.

Please consider supporting the work of the Masculinist by becoming a monthly financial supporter on Patreon or Gumroad. Or send a one-time contribution by PayPalCash App, or mail a check payable to Aaron Renn to PO Box 33171, Indianapolis, IN 46203.

Life Isn’t Fair

As I noted in my retrospective on sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, the idea of fairness has traditionally been powerful in Anglo-American society.

But America is not fair and getting less fair by the day. There are many rules in our society that are highly asymmetric, and favor one group or person over another.

Many of these rules aren’t written down. It’s incumbent on us to discern them and act accordingly.

Often we fail to do this. We either don’t discern the implicit rule, or pretend as if we don’t know it because the rule doesn’t seem fair.

But life isn’t and never will be fair. We need to get used to it.

That doesn’t mean we can’t fight against rules that are unjust. Seeking to change unjust rules is praiseworthy. But even in doing that, we have to operate with an understanding of the true context in which we are seeking reform.

We might also choose to ignore or break certain rules. But we should do so intentionally, and with a full understanding of what we are doing.

Never Hit a Girl

There are several female Christian influencers who write about gender issues from an aggressively feminist perspective and in explicit opposition to conservative male pastors who believe in traditional gender theology.

I see men who disagree with them try to engage in debate or refute them on…

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Albert Pinkham Ryder and the Challenge Of Craftsmanship

There was a time artists had to mix their own oil paints, creating their pigments by grinding colored minerals together with various oils. These days we have the good fortune to have our paint premade, available in tubes. Because of the thick consistency these industrially produced paints have, artists tend to mix them not only with oils, but often with some kind of solvent as well, in a blend referred to as a medium. The solvent assists with flow and drying, the oil is a binder.

I initially used linseed oil and turpentine when oil painting. I’ve heard turpentine can actually be addictive. I remember how I used to feel when I’d unscrew the lid of the glass jar I stored my medium in; there was something of a subtle thrill in the pinesap smell of it. But I soon switched over to mineral spirits, which I heard were better for health reasons.

I now work in acrylics, water based paints. I had many years of breathing solvents, and after the last time I moved my painting studio back into my house, I decided no more.

Painting in oils is demanding. It’s an incredibly versatile medium, but there is an unforgiving technical process to it was well. If the science isn’t followed, the painting will not survive intact. “Fat over lean,” we used to say in art school. What this means is never put faster drying paint on top of a slower drying, oilier paint layer. The leaner paint will crack as the wet layer underneath continues to dry, destroying the painting.

One of my favorite painters, Albert Pinkham Ryder (March 19, 1847-March 28, 1917), did not learn this lesson. And we are all the poorer for it.

By all accounts, Ryder was a shy, reclusive figure. He lived alone in legendary squalor;…

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Real Men Do X Always Fails

Men actually should be more involved in their kids’ education. But this video isn’t likely to do it.

The whole “real men do x” genre is built around shaming. Shaming can work in cases where there are strong social taboos. But I’ve never seen it work for things like this. It’s just another variation of the “Man up!” rant. 

Also, the video is a little goofy. Sometimes goofy can work, but if a man already feels awkward about the idea of getting involved in the PTA, is this likely to sell? I don’t think it will. There’s nothing aspirational here.

Mainstream attempts to get men to change their behaviors just haven’t worked all that well. No wonder men are instead looking to alternative sources like Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, etc.

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