I don’t really know what’s going on in the mind of Aliza Shvarts, but it’s sick and twisted. Her statements are a degenerate example of post-modernism (I know, I know, the bogeyman; but let me explain). Post-modernism is a slippery concept, but as I see it, it is the general loss of any overarching narrative that is true for most people. In other words, human beings have finally shed the modernist, Enlightenment search for a narrative that explains everything with which to replace Christianity. For hundreds of years, Christianity, or at least the Bible, had provided the narrative taken for granted by most, if not all, people in the Western world. But that began to change (see Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative), and we are seeing the fruition of that change in the dumbed-down version of people like Shvarts.
So, she can write idiotic, nonsensical things like:
“Because the miscarriages coincide with the expected date of menstruation (the 28th day of my cycle), it remains ambiguous whether … there was ever a fertilized ovum or not. The reality of the pregnancy, both for myself and for the audience, is a matter of reading,” she wrote.
“No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen,” Shvarts said. “The nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties.”
It does remain ambiguous whether there was a baby or not, unless she had a pregnancy test. But the “reality of the pregnancy” is clearly not a “matter of reading.” (How do you “read” a pregnancy, anyway?) No narrative, no sense of reality. Reality is a construct invented by the individual. This is the stupid person’s version of post-modernism. What is beneficial for Christianity about this loss of a common narrative is that Christians once again have to make their case. There is no appeal to the Bible for an end-all-arguments position. There is no end-all-arguments position. Thus, the high school frustration of telling unbelievers that the Bible says thus-and-so and hearing not an argument in response, but laughter.
We are, I think, back in a pagan world, but one where reality is splintered into a million, unconnected pieces. This is the ultimate root of the “that’s just your opinion” mode of “argument.” Which is just as juvenile, and just as frustrating, as the high school debate. Even Christians, who, above all, should have an overarching narrative (God’s story of salvation) are into it. When confronted with the witness of the Scriptures (the case for an interpretation presented) for a particular teaching, they don’t respond with counter-arguments, but with “that’s just your opinion.” As a pastor, that’s far more frustrating than being back in high school.
Aliza Shvarts has swallowed hook, line, and sinker dumbed-down post-modernism (is this the Yale status quo?); I wonder if Nietzsche would recognize his work in hers.
By the way, everything I’ve said presupposes if Shvarts actually did become pregnant and murder her own children, her actions are beyond reprehensible. Further, I presuppose that nothing that Shvarts has done has any actual relationship to what normal people call “art.”
UPDATE: Yale pretends to have integrity by threatening to pull the exhibit if Shvarts doesn’t admit that it’s “creative fiction.” What I can’t understand is what difference it makes. What standards are available to or used by Yale’s administration to decide that if Shvarts pretended to inseminate herself and then abort her children, that’s okay, but actually doing it is not. Yale has no common narrative with Shvarts, so why do its administrators think they can require cooperation on this point?