Tuesday, March 2, 2010

[Insert prefix here]speak

Interesting Guardian article here, which I read a while ago now, about 'artspeak'.

The point made I think has wider application. I have always been aware of the existence of a specific kind of religious language which could, by analogy, be dubbed 'religispeak'. The point of the language of 'calling' and 'vulnerability' by which I am perniciously surrounded could equally be expressed in plain terms. The problem then would be that the language would be robbed of its authoritative power. The sentence 'I am called to be a priest' would not sound so noble and ponderous if it were translated as 'I've failed at most other things in my life and have finally found the path that will provide me with social status, despite my obvious lack of talent or intelligence'. Alright - some bias has been injected into the 'translation'. But that is no less true of the sentence which it translates.

The analogies between art and religion are interesting and manifold. But what I had not considered is that both contribute to institutions or 'worlds' (as in 'the artworld') which are open to abuse. Elitism and exclusion abound in both. But this does not owe to the nature of art and religion but rather to the nature of the human institutions in which the artistic and religious impulses become entombed. Compare van Gogh's description of

a drawbridge with a little cart going over it, outlined against a blue sky

with some of Christ's more morally edifying statements. They are uncomplicated and 'earthy'. They are both miles apart from the respective '-speaks' created by the institutions which, all too often, sap them of their lifeblood.

1 comment:

Sinful Theology said...

An intresting post. I have often found myself in debates about terms used in the more charasmatic areas of the church 'God gave me a picture' as opposed to 'i have thought of a good metaphor for this situation'. There are clear dangers in the elevation of authroity that goes with the use of religious languge, but it seems that with that, there is an increasing expectation that this languge will be used to show the validity of the point being made.