Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 14, No. 13. October 4, 1951
The Bonus System
The Bonus System
N.G. believes with Naomi Mitchison that the only standards by which a writer in the western world would or could judge his own work were his own standards or else that of economic return. The economic standard means to them that the writer writes so that he can be understood by others. He has crossed the narrow world of individualism into the great shared world of man's experience. Here are some reasons the statement "economic standards of writing means universally appreciated writing" is nonsense.
(1) N.G. believes that the economic standard la good because it gets past the evil of individualism, But as Canon Green forcefully pointed out personality is the greatest thing we have. Precisely because man is human he is individual. Marxism of course does not admit free will and therefore lauds common experience in the mass.
(2) Why does N.G. deplore cheap and nasty American commercialised culture which is made possible and yet manage to praise the commercialism of the Soviet system where the rewards are "direct privileges of all kinds" as Miss Mitchison so nicely describes better ration cards? He has to follow the line and praise commercialism in one sphere and criticise it in another.
Miss Mitchison makes the similarity between the materialistic U.S.A. and the more materialistic U.S.S.R. philosophy clear. She says: "Let's have a look at the Soviet Union the standard here is strictly economic. If you produce what measures up well by the standard you get all kinds of Soviet privileges." Does she realise that to make an artistic creation a competition for prizes entails arbitrary judgments? The judges standard is final, and who can say it is the best? It is far better to create by your own standards as well as possible and leave the final judgment to the most capable judge—time.
The competition for better ration cards is "interpreting the Zeit- Geist—the spirit of your time and place—and that intelligibly." But we ask—interpretations must vary—will the political committee decide which is right and condemn the rest? On many occasions the writer, from Donne to Marx, has been a visionary. Will he be condemned as being out of touch with reality? Higher standards are not possible for the artist must remain at the level of popular standards.
(3) The attraction of the greatest wealth means attraction of the greatest number. To suit most tastes the product must be diluted—an evil in both distilling and art.
(4) Who is more qualified to judge what an artist has achieved and is capable of—the artist himself, who sees what might have been—or the audience who sees only the exterior result?