Candace de Russy has discovered yet another reason to be angry at postmodernists:
Academic postmodernism has profoundly influenced the arts, including memorials such as that long, black, unadorned sculpture in a hole in the ground, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, created by a college student a quarter of a century ago.The Memorial is adorned, of course...with the names of 58,000 dead people.
The design seems to me to be pretty respectful, not least because it avoids needless editorializing. My understanding is that many of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit it each year find it to be emotionally overwhelming, if not devastating. There are probably people who'd rather see a 200-foot statue of Richard Nixon planting his boot on Hồ Chí Minh's neck while running Jane Fonda through with a bayonet, but I think the majority of visitors would find that sort of pseudopatriotic kitsch somewhat...distracting.
The ability to create a monument that moves people from across the ideological spectrum is pretty impressive, I'd say, whether postmodernism inspired it or not.
For de Russy, though, art exists solely to indoctrinate. Thus, the absence of any overt flag-waving or hippy-bashing renders the Vietnam Memorial a "memorial to nothingness" that serves "merely to note the reality of death."
The moral vacuum is in the monument, y'see, and not in the spectator whose instinctive response to it is frivolous ideological bellyaching.
In our next installment, de Russy travels to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and complains about the postmodern aestheticization of ruins.