One of the problems with the progressive attitude towards art is that it defines it entirely in the negative. It is nothing more than the tool of the revolution. Once the revolution is accomplished, and we enter the paradise of communism, poetry disappears. From a recent article at Jacket2:
What is poetry, then? One definition might be: a literate dissatisfaction with poems and poets. The dissatisfaction is often some variant (or deformation) of the following syllogism: poems are products (if not servants) of this world; this world is mostly awful and must be destroyed; therefore poems and poets must also be destroyed. But who, pleads the poet, is better suited to vanquish the poet than another poet? And what possible weapon could be better suited to the task than the poem itself, intimately familiar as it is with the poet’s frailty, naïveté, and hubris?
* * *
The vocation of the poet becomes self-destruction; the vocation of the poem, self-abolition. The realization of poetry can only be had through the destruction of its specific instances. In this way, poetry enters into alliance with that class whose historical mission is the abolition of all classes, itself included, and the production of communism therefrom.
Poetry and paradise, it seems, cannot co-exist, though the writers here acknowledge that “some new and for us inconceivable form of aesthetic expression that might still deserve the name poetry” may be present in this new society. Maybe it will be the prosody of marching youth, for example? Or the elegance of egalitarian bureaucracy? But it won’t be poetry, at least as it is defined above. How could it be?
There is a parallel to Christianity here. In the Christian paradise, like in the Marxist one, many (maybe all) social roles will disappear. There will be no kings (except One, of course), no earthly servants, no marriage. But one could make the case that there will be poets–that there will be nothing but poets in heaven. From Revelation 19:1-5:
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
Once more they cried out,
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”
And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”
This is because, in the Christian view, poetry is not defined in relation to the revolution but in relation to justice and truth and goodness, which will not disappear.