Perhaps we will even have to let go the comforting illusion that art can be "universal," or that there are universal standards by which the incredible diversity of arts produced by all the world's peoples, places and eras can be judged.
Postmodernism opens all these issues for discussion. That, of course, is why it is despised by the self-appointed taste-makers and would-be arbiters of aesthetic quality who have long been accustomed to reserving such judgments to themselves.
Still, I believe we are moving toward a radically transformed understanding of what is "good" and "bad" in art, one that ultimately will enrich us both spiritually and intellectually as we enter the next millennium.
Of course, it may well turn out that what is good in the new art is not so very different after all from what was good in the old. There may be, as the poet John Keats once suggested, a natural human response to what is beautiful and true.
But we probably won't know that for sure until we have learned to honor completely new kinds of beauty and appreciate more profound levels of truth than we seem capable of at present.
That will surely be the "best" art of our time, if only we can recognize it when we see it.
Pub Date: 5/11/97