Monday, December 6, 2010

How the state co-opts community and personal responsibility

Here we have two opposing views on what it means to be a responsible member of a community.

In the first we have Jesus:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

And then we have The MTA, now co-opted by DHS:

Remember, if you see something, say something. Alert a police officer, train or bus operator, station personnel or call 888-NYC-SAFE.

The first requires individual courage and responsibility.

The second relinquishes both courage and responsibility to the state.

Since we are what we imitate, in which world would you live?

Why Bad Poetry is Bad for Poetry

Walter Benjamin: we have a "gift of seeing resemblances."

Iain McGilchrist: "Imagination is how we know what we know and how we become who we are."

Humans are imitative animals. I'm demonstrating this if nothing else than by these posts from the Good Doctor's Good Book, in which I stop reading because I have "seen a resemblance" between what McGilchrist has written and the reality of poetry.

We imitate what we know.

When we are given "bad poetry" to imitate--poetry that is selfish, that is closeted, that is straight-jacketed by convention (even, perhaps especially, when that convention is "experimentation"), that is, for lack of a better term, bad--we in turn make bad poetry.

The first test of "bad poetry" should be:

does someone who is not a poet like this?

Why, you ask?

It's easy. We process art as a new, whole, living thing--unless it is something we have studied in depth--then we begin to process art with which we are familiar as pieces of a mechanical whole. We artists are only "surprised" by something entirely unexpected--even then we may only appreciate it on a mechanical level; i.e. "oh, that is clever" not "oh, that is Good."

The layman, however, still approaches art as a whole thing alive. If the artificiality of your art for artists means that it does not read as a whole living being to a layman then you have failed--you have made, not art, but a clever imitation of art--that is, you have made "bad art."

So what happens when you, as a jaded artist, continue to appreciate "bad art" for its "cleverness" and then teach this to aspiring artists and laymen?

First is that the aspiring artists learn all the wrong things--they learn to create art for artists' sake, not humanity's. They learn that "cleverness" is to be praised above all else. They learn, in short, to make bad art.

What does the layman learn? He learns that art is not for him and rejects it.

Perhaps he is lucky and encounters a novel that a friend passes on, or notices a particularly beautiful painting or sculpture, sees a great play, and rediscovers art. Note what I have left out--where is that layman to find great poetry?

We have become so dedicated to bad poetry that we have no galleries, no word-of-mouth, no stage for greatness--only hollow planks supporting hollow words.

No wonder we are in a rats' land.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No end, just silence

The end of what, Son?
The story?
There is no end,
there's just the point where storytellers stop talking.
Pretty profound for a little comic strip.