Andrew Klavan of The Daily Wire and his son, Spencer Klavan of the Claremont Institute, recently spoke at a University of Chicago event that UChicago’s College Republicans chapter hosted and Young America’s Foundation sponsored.
Andrew, the host of The Andrew Klavan Show, explained the need for an American renaissance amid the two contrary forces, the culture of the West and “wokeism,” that have American civilization in the middle of a game of tug of war.
Meanwhile, Spencer reminisced about his childhood of reading classical literature and learning that “to be surrounded by old books is to be surrounded by old friends.” Growing up, he quickly realized most people don’t regard old books this way. Classic works instead stir up harsh feelings and are dubbed “racist” and “colonialist,” two labels that Spencer deemed to be thoroughly untrue.
The author of the recent book How to Save the West, Spencer postulated that in order to move forward and recover our civilization, our society needs a rebirth. He explained that this doesn’t mean redoing things the way they used to be but instead gathering the wisdom gained through the history of man and “living out the here and now, through things that were once great but have been lost.”
The Ongoing Culture War
Pointing out the cultural clash that is playing out throughout society, Andrew highlighted the most recent literary targets to be canceled—author Roald Dahl’s many works and the James Bond novels—which have both seen recent criticism in typical Orwellian fashion. Andrew lightheartedly poked at young people for being shown on by a “new light of purity and virtue” that has supposedly made them so wonderful and so virtuous that they should erase the past and rewrite it to be what they feel, in their wisdom, it should be. They are not standing on the shoulders of giants, Andrew argued, but instead bringing giants down to their size.
While emphasizing that the crises we face today are not new and have occurred many times throughout history, Spencer acknowledged that technology is playing a unique factor and said that it is “disorienting us from our relationship to one another, in relationship to ourselves, and our relationship to the cosmos.” Although the modern-day crisis appears unprecedented, Spencer proposed that the first-order principles of the destabilizing forces are the same.
God Was the First Creative
Spencer placed historical emphasis on Giorgio Vasari, a fiftheenth-century architect, historian, and painter who presented “God as the first artist” in his book, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. Spencer went on to assert that “God’s greatest work is man, but man exists within a vast cosmic architecture of artistic production.” This idea sets in place a “divine model” creating form and structure and setting the objective for all other art to yearn to reach, and it constructs the idea that art of value is a response to the yearning for God. Meanwhile, Andrew observed that the primary issue today is the question of God, whom he suggested is the guarantor of meaning.
Andrew also identified each of us as living lives uniquely creative and mirroring the reality inside and around each of us. He noted, “I can model things that come out of my inner life, echoing what comes out of God’s inner life, which is everything, which is creation.”
Scientism Undercuts Faith
Spencer took issue with scientism’s association of the supernatural with primitive and unscholarly superstition. Similarly, Andrew explained that the ancient Greek meaning of supernatural is ‘meta-physis,’ which translates to ‘metaphysics.’ Instead of equating religion to magic, it is a branch of philosophy needed to make sense of everything else; it describes everything besides automated mechanisms operating from internal logic.
Science undercuts faith, not by attempting to disprove God, but rather by creating an atmosphere separate from the Bible that makes it difficult to believe in God. As Andrew observed, “when you read the Bible, the sun stands still in the sky, people are healed by a touch, carpenters resurrect after being crucified, these are things that in science don’t actually happen.”
Andrew contended that most churches have collapsed due to a lack of faith in the supernatural. Moreover, he remarked on his idea that morality needs to be attached to a metaphysical reality or it is fallible to men’s vices. Majority rule doesn’t equate to righteousness because, as Andrew says, “your Nazi is [otherwise] as good as your saint.”
The be-yourself mentality is anathema to Andrew. Rather, one should be the person God has ordained him to be. To explore this virtue itself is a work of art.
You Encourage What You Reward
Andrew went on to speak of experiences as a conservative in Hollywood. Quickly learning that the city squashes right-leaning voices, he saw other conservatives wary of vocalizing their beliefs until they were no more. What he and many conservatives likely didn’t realize at the time was that the culture would be won through media.
Hindsight is 20/20, but conservatives are now losing the country largely through Hollywood. Awards incentivize behavior, and Andrew acknowledged that Hollywood awards have encouraged the values of the left. As he pithily stated, “you get more of what you honor.”
However, the battle is not over, and the arts are a valid avenue for a rebirth of our culture. They should be allowed to continue uncensored, Spencer remarked, since they will “expand our humanity and reveal the fullness of all that we are and can be.”
While it may appear that certain groups have co-opted art, media, and literature, those forms of expression do not belong to any political party or ideological group.
Spencer tied it together beautifully when he quoted Gustave Flaubert, the eighteenth-century French novelist who famously analogized that “when we make art, we are like bears pounding on a cracked cauldron and all we want to do is produce the music of the stars.” In sum, what kind of world do we seek to reflect with the help of the arts?
* The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
Good morning Miss Pelkey and CT
We have an extremely important, dangerous mayoral election coming up. The CTU, BLM, Leftist Johnson candidate might win mayor along with DA Kim Foxx and top crime judge Time Evans (my Kenwood alderman when I was a teen growing up here) pro criminal, bad public school monopolists will have full power.
I’m inviting any and all remaining U Chicago Conservatives to work on the Vallas anti Johnson campaign – just standard campaign. Dress nice, meet and greet, talk to elderly people in danger of being mugged same as UC Asian students.
Want to meet in the Ida Noyes basement pub or Regenstein basement coffee shop if there are issues with being 21yrs – my treat.
I”m a U Chicago alum and 3rd generation Hyde Park Chicagoan with lots of experience in Chicago and other campaigning. This is very important dangerous mayoral election.
J Els east hyde park