Beginning with the considerations of Simone Weil and Aldous Huxley on the decline of values in Western culture and the controversy surrounding Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe, the author demonstrates that the mechanism through which incommensurable values are construed is also the mechanism that puts interpretation in motion. The main point of presentation is that if, as Nietzsche said, what is decisive about the value of interpretation is its meaning for life, there is no way to univocally determine which interpretation of reality is better and which is worse, since what decides is vitality and not adequacy. Consequently, if, as many authors confirm, the incommensurability of dominant interpretations causes a crisis of culture, it logically follows that culture is inextricably bound with the notion of crisis.
Michał Paweł Markowski (b. 1962) — a literary critic, essayist, translator, publicist, professor at the Jagiellonian University, head of the Faculty of Polish Language and Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Author of numerous books on philosophy and literature. He has translated, among others, the works of Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jean—François Lyotard, Richard Rorty, Marcel Proust.