The first consequence of the retreat of art upon itself is the ban on all pathos. Art laden with “humanity” had become as weighty as life itself. It was an extremely serious affair, almost sacred. At times—in Schopenhauer and Wagner—it aspired to nothing less than to save mankind. Whereas the modern inspiration—and this is a strange fact indeed—is invariably waggish. The waggery may be more or less refined, it may run the whole gamut from open clownery to a slightly ironical twinkle, but it is always there. And it is not that the content of the work is comical—that would mean a relapse into a mode or species of the “human” style—but that, whatever the content, the art itself is jesting. To look for fiction as fiction—which we have said, modern art does—is a propositon that can cannot be executed except with one’s tongue in one’s cheek. Art is appreciated precisely because it is recognized as a farce. It is this trait more than any other that makes the works of the young so incomprehensible to serious people of less progressive taste. To them modern painting and music are sheer “farce”—in the bad sense of the word—and they will not be convinced that to be a farce may precisely be the mission and virtue of art.

José Ortega y Gasset, “The Dehumanizaton of Art” (1925)

With a deferential nod to Waggish.