In the two-dozen essays within, I attempt to cast the darkest denizens of our own dubious days into the less lurid chiaroscuro of cultural critique. Written over a nine month span, from 2020-21, the sense throughout that saying is also doing and that words thus carry a greater gravity than is often given them, should be kept in mind. For us, if the word and the deed are to be brought together, at once ethics and aesthetics must again be separated, if never to be utterly parted. They must travel beside one another, in mutual aid, but they cannot simply become each other, as they did during the period beginning with Goya and ending with Bacon, with the 1920s and 1930s reaching the high-water mark of this culture critique. For us, the ‘scandal of art’, as Paul Ricoeur has aptly put it, must indeed ‘balance’, or at the least, balance out, the ‘scandal of the false consciousness’. But the scales upon which this confrontation occurs is held by the hand of ethics alone. (adapted from the preface).
“With compassion and criticism both, Loewen’s second collection of essays on Culture and cultures alike places the reader at the heart of contemporary existence. With titles such as ‘The Depth Psychology of Nervous Wrecks’, ‘Who was that Unmasked Man?’, ‘Rendering unto Caesar’s Palace’, ‘Gender: the ever-bending story’, and ‘Gandalf Hitler’, we are immediately aware that this heart is one of contradiction, conflict, even absurdity. In a word, it is wholly and irrevocably human, and it is to this humanity, much more realistic than anything either the PC or Neo-Con forces could ever muster, that the philosopher directs us. And we would be the wiser to attend.” (from the publisher).