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Reply To: Don’t Look Up: The Doomsday Dilettante,” with mythologist Norland Téllez”


    Thank you so much Janet,

    You’re most welcome to our forum. For some reason, your response has been truncated but I was able to read it in full in my inbox. For I think you make a great point, which we’re all in agreement with, regarding the extent to which the conscious intentions of an author exhaust the full meaning of a work of art.

    Without denying that an element of political propaganda may be present in it, I believe Don’t Look Up has taken a step beyond its intended ideological message. Although it may be rare when a work of art exceeds its own expectations, sometimes it does happen. On the contrary, when a work of art merely translates an explicit doctrine into aesthetic form, in other words, when it only says what the author consciously intended to say and no more, then we could rightly say that we’re dealing with nothing but sectarian propaganda.

    This is why it is important for us artists to be working up to a point where we don’t quite know what we’re doing. Otherwise, if we only say what we consciously want to say, we can easily become mere instruments of a given doctrine, or mouthpieces of an ideological fantasy or belief system. In other words, we merely take up the function of “mass entertainment” and become perfect propagandists—even if it’s for a good cause!

    On the other hand, to the extent that a work of art touches a deeper archetypal level of truth in the collective, it may be called a manifestation of true myth (vera narratio). It then becomes in the style of Picasso: a mythical lie that tells the truth.

    In this context, truth has a different sense the exposition of an objective fact—be it climate change or any other empirical process. Mythical truth is not subjective either; it is not an idiosyncratic private affair with a “personal mythology” as it essentially belongs to the collective. As such, mythical truth points to our collective “mental” or “spiritual”—in a word, ideological—atmosphere. Therefore, from this point of view, Don’t Look Up expresses more precisely a truth about our collective submersion into what I will broadly call cultural capitalism.