What might we mean by monoculture? What is the impetus for ‘identitarian’ or nationalistic monoculture movements who do not see, or wish, their society to be pluralistic, not just in the context of Europe but globally? Might we locate positive or even emancipatory aspirations of monoculture? Might a culturally homogeneous society also be inclusive and transformational? What lies at the fringes of monoculture, and what does it not tolerate? What may be the position of the arts within the context of monocultural ideology? Or alternatively, how might the arts look under monocultural ideology when taken to its logical conclusion?

MONOCULTURE – FROBENIUS

Image000296 scan: (c) M HKA, Published by Librairies Félix Alcan et Guillaumin Réunies
Henri Bergson, "L'évolution créatrice", 1907
Book , 14,3 x 22,7 cm

Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was a French philosopher who opposed the prevailing Western rationalism. Bergson was particularly influential for the rehabilitation of intuition in philosophical thought, as well as for his distinction between "open society" and "closed society" (The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1932), the ideas which were further developed by Karl Popper. In L’Évolution créatrice Bergson proceeds from evolution as a scientifically established fact, but rejects finalism and introduces the theory of evolution not as mechanistic, but as a creative process, driven by an élan vital (vital impulse). The latter is characterised as an immanent creative impetus found in all organisms and also accounts for the creative nature of mankind. Bergson believed that intuition, as the opposite to practical and rationalised intelligence, allows us to grasp the essence of life and to return to our core creative impulse. These ideas were of particular influence to Léopold Senghor who would later put the primacy of intuition and art at the heart of his philosophy of Négritude.