The cowardice of technocracy

Re: Yahtzee’s video essay “Why was Prey so forgettable?”

Finally thought of a good way to phrase this observation of people who focus on cinematography and things like that: The focus on technical details of production in art is rooted in cowardice. It’s an attempt to reduce art to the realm of checklists, where a technocrat has higher standing than the creative genius.

It’s the abnegation of the duty to appreciate the meaning of the art above and beyond the fidelity with which it’s communicated. Technique is a fascination of halfwits. Why talk about means without ends? Means are only meaningful by their association with ends. This is why I never got along with other musicians. All they ever want to talk about is gear. Fuck your tone pedals. Who cares if so and so’s acting performance in such and such was great if it had nothing to do with the movie’s message?

When people say they like a movie because it was “well-done”, because it has great cinematography, acting, music, structure, etc., it’s because they’re out of touch with their own feelings. They know the movie stirred something in their ossified souls, but they have no idea why, so they grope around for justifications.

Was it a story of inspiring heroism? Terrifying tragedy? The halfwit shrinks back from such questions. These are the people who fear AI, because they imagine themselves competing with a creature of superlative technique. And what else is there? If they ever bothered to ask the question, they punt and call the answer “the X factor” or some other tedious black box that surely hides nothing more than as yet undiscovered techniques.

Yes, Citizen Kane involved innovative filmmaking techniques, but what did it say? What was it about? Movie buffs will respond with tripe that reads like the movie’s wikipedia entry. “Some scholars claim Citizen Kane’s story touches on themes like people, society, and things, and is a compelling presentation of things we dare not discuss for fear that the grader is political and we’ll lose points on this SAT essay.” Useless!

I’d rather hear about how it reminded you of one time you were at the grocery store as a child and something about a man looking the oranges stuck out to you and you never forgot that image. There’s infinitely more humanity in that anecdote than a wikipedia entry saying the story structure technically checks all the boxes to qualify as a tragedy. Who fucking cares?

There is an order which pervades all time as well as all space. It is the function of the poet to discover that order, and to interpret it to men. Tennyson began his work with a right theory of art. His position in literature and his influence upon his generation cannot be understood without recognizing this.

What is merely intimated in the “Ode to Memory” is clearly expressed elsewhere. Not often has a great singer in his first lays so fully spread out the programme of his career as has our author in another early poem, “The Poet.” Rarely has the after-harvest given so abundant witness to the quality of the seed. And never, I believe, has any literary sower committed this seed more daringly or more tremblingly to the earth:

The poet in a golden clime was born,
With golden stars above;
Dower’d with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
The love of love.

He saw through life and death, through good and ill
He saw through his own soul.
The marvel of the everlasting Will,
An open scroll,

Before him lay : with echoing feet he threaded
The secretest walks of fame:
The viewless arrows of his thoughts were headed
And winged with flame.

So, many minds did gird their orbs with beams,
Though one did fling the fire;
Heaven flow’d upon the soul in many dreams
Of high desire.

Thus truth was multiplied on truth, the world
Like one great garden show’d,
And, through the wreaths of floating dark upcurl’d,
Rare sunrise flow’d.

Her words did gather thunder as they ran,
And as the lightning to the thunder
Which follows it, riving the spirit of man,
Making earth wonder,

So was their meaning to her words. No sword
Of wrath her right arm whirl’d,
But one poor poet’s scroll, and with his word
She shook the world.

So much of sound philosophy is condensed into these lines, and so much of Tennyson’s own theory of art, that I venture, even at the risk of repeating what I have said in other essays, to point out some of the features of his poetic creed. All truth is material for the poet, whether it be truth of nature or of the human soul, of history or of the divine purpose that unifies history. One ordered realm of truth is open to the poet’s gaze, and he is truth’s interpreter. He deals with truth, however, not in its abstract forms, but in its power to move and sway the soul—with truth therefore in its aspect as beauty, and as fit to charm and stir, to inspirit and energize. Not mere fact, but tendency, not the individual, but the type, not the sequences of life, but the order and beauty which lie behind them, it is the poet’s mission to discover and to declare—and all for the good of human kind and for the unveiling of the divine love and wisdom.

Prey was forgettable because it was a copy/paste job. There was no reason for it to exist, it had no raison d’etre, thus the creators left nothing of themselves in it. The reason we associate that with flaws is creators are flawed, so when they leave a piece of themselves behind it will contain those flaws in microcosm. See how easy that was to diagnose when you start with the assumption that art is supposed to have meaning above and beyond creating a more addictive Skinner box? Fill in a mad lib with as much technical complexity and perfection as you like, a mad lib can never be important.

Importance: If you’re an artist, that’s your ticket to greatness. What is it important to impress on your audience?

(Re: Yahtzee’s conclusion that the answer must be that flaws make the experience more intense, kind of like putting fentanyl in your dabs, see

I’m tempted to follow up with a diatribe about people fetishizing the particular medium, thinking they like “video games” when in reality their passion comes from some particular video games that were great art first and only video games coincidentally. But that’s another post for later. These people have filled the creative industries and are ruining them with their high production value fanboy copy/paste bullshit.

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18 Responses to The cowardice of technocracy

  1. Obadiah says:

    Many such cases

    Original Willy Wonka: a masterpiece of Christian morality.

    Wonka: God
    Charlie: Wheat
    Other Kids: tares
    Giant, wall spanning contract at the beginning of the tour: Old Testament Law, which no human can fulfill
    Charlie stealing the Fizzy Lifting Drinks: sinning/violating the contract, condemning Charlie to Hell
    Charlie returning the Everlasting Gobstopper to Wonka, instead of giving it to Slugsworth (Satan) for money: repentance
    -Charlie winning the contest and being chosen to inherit the factory because he returned the Everlasting Gobstopper: repentant sinner inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven

    Film was shot for 3 million dollars and the production team was flying by the seat of their pants.



    Film was shot for 150 million dollars


  2. rillxn says:

    As your writings have been a significant influence on my theory of art I would be grateful to hear your personal answer to the question ‘what is important?’

    Having arrived at that question pretty recently all things considered I find myself constantly circling back to:

    man’s contention with his fallen nature
    the capacity for redemption through Christ

    very little else occupies my headspace as much as those subjects. the things of the world seem to me a lower order of import insofar as theyre not indicative of or oriented toward transcendental realities. those 2 motifs are the subjects of my current work anyhow.

    A video you may find edifying:

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >‘what is important?’

      Great question, and worthy of the full treatment. If I don’t get to it before Saturday then I’ll write it up with Owl.

      In the meantime, the short version is the answers to difficult “wat do” questions, the conceptual details necessary to properly frame the reality of those questions, and presenting the angle of the knife for “cutting at the joints”. As analogies, I’ll be appealing to math objects and operations, diagrams for butchering various animals, and data structures and algorithms in computer science. As a rule people supply their own “why” when they seek these things out, so little to no time is spent on answering why and 80% is spent on the “what” in a way that hopefully makes the 20% spent on “how” become intuitive.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I should note this presentation will be somewhat repellant to the artistic personality because it’s so far removed from the routines that produce creative inspiration and followthrough. That’s fine as long as we acknowledge the distinction. To explain creative production, I’ll refer to C.S. Lewis’s essay “It Began with a Picture” and my own theory that creativity means seeing something wrong and taking it personally. “You people call that an X? I’ll show you an X…*five years later*…see? THAT’S an X.”

      • rillxn says:

        ‘my own theory that creativity means seeing something wrong and taking it personally. “You people call that an X? I’ll show you an X…*five years later*…see? THAT’S an X.”’

        This is one aspect I heavily relate to. Over time I acquired a sense of the general landscape of art and found areas whete I felt I could contribute meaningfully. Where there was untapped/underdeveloped potential. Whether or not I succeeded in those attempts is something I vacillate on.

        I’ll have to read It Began With a Picture. C.S . Lewis won me over with Mere Christianity and Screwtape.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >A video you may find edifying:

      That was an extremely impressive presentation. This guy is very smart and he knows his business.

  3. Pingback: Theory of art | Aeoli Pera

  4. Watatsumi says:

    I always hated graffix people, and now I know why. It just goes to show that all the money and technical prowess in the world can’t make art. Forspoken as a recent example. Elden Ring is great because it is like gnostic art brought to life, pic related:

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