Sunday, October 17, 2004

 
So what are some of the artistic strategies which have arisen as a result of predatory/irrational government? I feel sheepishly American to admit I don't know much beyond: the blues, the protest songs of the 30's and the 60's, 'magic realism' (I'd include Gogol in this, though maybe I shouldn't), Soviet protest literature, and . . . what? I suppose post-holocaust literature (Celan would be a good example), anti-war literature & art (Catch-22, Picasso's Guernica) also. Is it fair to say that all these involve either a) an attempted retreat (whether succesful or no) to the foundation of the personal self (even turning away from the turmoil, as an extreme self-protection), or (perhaps this is an extension of a) b) as clear a description of the deceptions and its effects as the artist can muster, despite the consequences (would Language poetry be fine in this category, in its own way, as well as Solzhenizyn in his?); that all these are one, or the other, or some mixture of, these two? I have no idea. I hope somehow things turn out fine, and we don't have to find out. I'm certainly not predicting disaster or anything, but,

well, I'm having a hard time writing, or thinking really, beyond checking the news every hour. It is mostly the election, but I think a lot of anxiety is getting tied up in that contest, which that contest is only a part of, and not even a part of all the history moving through us our way. I mean, there are many hours I forget, but there is a kind of quiet just outside my ears I feel like I'm trying to listen through, to hear what's coming. Mostly I'm happy, I mean I'm not in a state of physical tension, and I'm enjoying life and my family tremendously; but still.

I know, terrible rambling, no point. If anyone has any thoughts regarding the point of my first paragraph, I'd be curious to hear. Or a pointer to a good book on the subject. I suppose one option I've left out is c) religious invention & messianic movement. Is that artistic?

Comments:
I'd love to read a bit more on that, too. In my limited perspective, it feels as if government itself is usually irrational. The nature of the beast? But when the realization of human rights abuses hits home...something happens within the artist?

It does feel bad, though, to be an American right now. But is it because we just weren't paying attention before? I'm really starting to wrestle with this myself now.

In some ways Bush's presidency may have been (& I do hope it is over soon!) providential. If only I had known what Clinton was doing to welfare, &c, in Bosnia, &c, the vagaries of both major parties....

I now intend to stay informed, &, ultimately, to do what I can to bring to consciousness what was heretofore part of my Gen-Y-er oblivion....

Does this resonate? :)

Best to you in the upcoming election countdown. I'm there too.

Laura
 
Well, I knew what Clinton was governing like. There is a range beyond where he was that Bush is. Nothing he's done is providential--that's just wishing he'll melt when Dorothy douses him. These things trend, and don't get all sunshiny at the end, and the level of disinformation is really reaching bizarre proportions. Yes, there's always been a certain (read:high) amount of lies, oligarchical capitalism, etc, but there was a balance. And even the balance that's been for my adult life (call it 15 years), while distasteful and something I've been aware of is now out of. I honestly feel a certain level of danger from my government I've never felt before--like the experience of waiting for a train on a platform with someone who is acting erratically and vaguely threateningly.

I mean, it's to the point where I expect to hear "Chocolate rations increased again!" Of course, the morning after I think of that, Tommy Thompson is saying "don't worry about your flu shots, people!" Now personally, I am not so sure flu shots are such a good idea, but the point is the reality is being dictated top-down--last year, oh god people, be safe, get a flu shot! This year, ehh, not so important, the profit margins aren't so great anyway. Don't forget to get your Paxil on the way instead!

Blech.
 
What about good old fashioned Romantic Orphism? I'm thinking of Blake and the way, after his sedition trial, his work became more and more systematically coded and, well, seditious. A kind of demonic satire.

thinking out loud, sorry.

josh H
 
Blake, yes, that's a good one. To obscure enough the brutes can't really understand, I guess you could say, though that's kind of an ugly way to put it.
 
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