I posted most of this over at 22 Words and thought I would repost it here
In some sense, the fall of man was a great act of un-creation, so every act of genuine creation this side of the fall is redemptive. The end of all genuine creation may be, like the end of learning, “to repair the ruins of our first parents.”
However, I do wonder if nihilism and destruction doesn’t sometimes mask itself as art and creation.
I can’t think of any examples that I would be willing to call false art in this sense (certainly not works of art that some might struggle to find redemption in, not books like The Road or No Country for Old Men or House of Sand and Fog or modern abstract art or Belle & Sebastian). But at the end of Wem Wenders’ film Wings of Desire there is a scene in a german club (YouTube comes through again). It's tough to sum up, but I think it’s a good example of nhilistic ‘art’ as a temptation to destruction and suicide.
And the two main characters have to walk away from that scene, from that 'false art,' in order to begin a new creation.
I think also of these lines from Book II of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
The scene is in Pandaemonium, the city the demons built in hell. Satan has agreed to venture forth and tempt man and the rest are left to their own devices while they await his return. The suggestion is that some art, some philosophy, some culture is demonic and only a mockery of creation.
By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers
Disband; and, wandering, each his several way
Pursues, as inclination or sad choice
Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find
Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain
The irksome hours, till his great Chief return.
Others, more mild,
Retreated in a silent valley, sing
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall
By doom of battle, and complain that Fate
Free Virtue should enthrall to Force or Chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet
(For Eloquence the Soul, Song charms the Sense)
Others apart sat on a hill retired,
In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high
Of Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate--
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
Of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy, and glory and shame:
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!--
Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm
Pain for a while or anguish, and excite
Fallacious hope, or arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.
Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, th' adventurous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous,
O'er many a frozen, many a fiery alp,
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death--
A universe of death, which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good;
Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Obominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.