The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Monday, September 19, 2005
Doug Wilson: Grime Doesn't Pay
Wilson once again nails it. Grime does NOT equal truth. Alleged "realism" does not make a work of art valid.

Some excerpts:

The issue is always nobility. Nobility is good and it is very real. Sweety-nice and sentimental cliches set themselves up as good, but they are not real. The difference between Sam Gamgree and Elsie Dinsmore is vast. To complicate the picture further, hypocrisy pays lip service to that which is good, but lives in such a way as to say that the good is unreal in the hypocrite's experience. Those who live with the hypocrite come to agree, and as I wrote earlier, they go off to find authenticity on the seedy side of town. But there is just as much hypocrisy there -- the difference is the world is engaged in a vast conspiracy on this subject, and has agreed to not notice it. Church-going hypcrisy gets pounded, and we should have no problem with that. Go for it. It deserves everything it gets, good and hard. But the hypocrites of lowlife authenticity are just as bad, just as inconsistent. They just never get called on it. Why? Because they are living authentic lives. Why do we say so? Well, the grease for starters.


Grimy characters can certainly be real, as they are in the book God is writing. As Chesterton once put it, a book without a wicked character is a wicked book. But such characters are not good because they are real, and they most certainly are not more real just because they are real. They do not have any advantage over the noble, cute, pretty, or clean in that great footrace for the blue ribbon prize that we call being "realistic." Pious four-year-old girls with big blue eyes are real. Crack cocaine addicts are real. Both of them can share basically the same quadrant in the space/time continuum, the same zip code, and even the same mother. Some of these people who privilege grime over the good need to work through some basic questions of ontology, or, to pinpoint the problem more accurately, ethics.

(Also check out Doug's earlier related post.)