In the face of progressive decay, the conception of modernity is also changing. Without necessarily rejecting everything stimulating that the avant-garde has produced, the profound actuality of poetry – and of any authentic art – rests more in the preservation of values than in their transformation; if it is to act as the conscience of its time, it is primarily by maintaining a sense of those constants that are today in crisis. This means not only a return to sensibilities, to notions of order and personal responsibility, but also concrete changes in poetic expression.
Today, the disastrous consequences of utopian forms of thought force us to embrace even the cult of free imagination, characteristic of the avant-garde, with restraint; the poetic imagination can enrich our lives through its ability to unite with everyday experience, deepening it and thus expressing the change hidden within it itself. A prerequisite for this, however, is a new classification of the autonomy of a work of art and its deviation from the anecdotes of the world: where the avant-garde doctrines led to the deification of purely artistic values – thus reducing the work of art to a hermetic cipher – nowadays a work of art can meet its audience only if it is possible for the audience to read in the newly discovered forms the mythical image of its real existence.
Text: Petr Král from “A Tombstone for the Avant-Garde”.