There has been a long productive discussion in a private group I belong to on what defines art.
For the SJWs it means “be socially relevant in the ‘right’ (left) direction.” For me, no, it doesn’t.
However they are historically ah justified, since historically art was used to support the church and state that defined the society. And this day as far as the elites are concerned, the theology is marxism, which supports them in their technocrat “we know better” position and their pretense of working for others and therefore deserving rewards.
So before we can combat them, we need to create our own theory of art criticism.
I propose three legs to support art
Intention — what effect you achieve must be intentional. Some branches covered in frost in the morning are beautiful, but not intentional. (Well, maybe G-d amuses himself making mini-masterpieces, but we don’t know that and a lot of it seems to be random. Also, if this is G-d’s work of art, it would be beyond our ability to perceive or critique. Moot.) So — without intention and creating will there is no art.
Skill – This is slippery territory because we don’t know where skill ends and genius begins. However, SOME skill is needed. A writer needs to know the language he is working in. A musician needs to be able to play his instrument, be it a stick and a bucket or a piano. A painter needs to know how to draw basic forms and how colors interact. (Yes, I know there’s a whole theory of noble savage art, particularly in plastic arts, which I think aren’t really, just a manifestation of utter decadence.)
Emotion – the ultimate effect of any art is emotion, whether it’s good emotion, bad emotion. It is however a controlled emotional experience leading to catharsis.
And the ultimate test of art is whether it speaks to people through the centuries. It is possible to be immensely popular in your own time for other factors, such as social signaling or heavy supporting of the elites line, and to be despised or, worse, ignored, in the future.
However, if you’re not popular in your own time — if you’re not entertaining enough to sustain interest, then you’ll ONLY be read for social signaling and your chances of ever achieving the emotional effect in your own day, much less the future, is zero.
So — discuss it. I’m trying to come up with a coherent theory that leads to a book, or at least a monograph.
Oh, and why should we care as writers? Good heavens — if we’re trying to improve, we need to know in which direction. Beyond “make mo’ money” — though mind you I’m totally behind that too.