In both positive and negative terms, art can have a tremendous impact on human morality, thought, and behavior. This is no exaggeration. Modern society bears many examples for study.

“The Mozart effect,” for instance, has attracted worldwide attention. The scientific community has conducted a number of studies on the positive influence of Mozart’s music on people and animals. In 2016, a more in-depth study of the Mozart effect found that Mozart’s music has a positive effect on human cognitive function and behavior. Surprisingly, playing Mozart’s music in reverse has a completely opposite effect. Arnold Schoenberg’s modern atonal music has a similar effect as playing Mozart backward — demonstrating its damaging character. [6]

Compared with atonal music, rock music has an even more negative effect. A researcher compiled data from two similar cities: The city in which the radio and television broadcast a large number of rock songs saw 50 percent more cases of pregnancy out of wedlock, dropouts, youth deaths, crimes, and so on. [7] Some rock music even makes suicide seem reasonable. “Its dark rhythms and depressing lyrics certainly can be taken as an encouragement for suicide, and it is an irrefutable fact that young people have snuffed out their lives while listening to it repeatedly.” [8] It is not uncommon for teens who commit suicide to do as described in the rock lyrics, and numerous rock musicians have descended into depression, drug abuse, and suicide themselves.

Another well-known negative example is the nationalist Nazi movie Triumph of the Will. Despite the director, Leni Riefenstahl, arguing that she had created a documentary, the propaganda movie exhibited superb artistic mastery. The grand scenes and displays of strength made audiences resonate with the energy and power behind it. A number of the methods in camerawork and editing influenced film for decades to come.

Yet the work also became a crucial piece of propaganda for Hitler and Nazi Germany, and is known as one of the most successful propaganda films in history. The British newspaper The Independent wrote in 2003: “Triumph of the Will seduced many wise men and women, persuaded them to admire rather than to despise, and undoubtedly won the Nazis friends and allies all over the world.” [9]

Understanding the great power of art can help us better understand the importance of traditional art and why evil elements want to undermine and sabotage human art and cause it to degenerate.

From Chapter Eleven: Desecrating the Arts

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