At Art’s Pointy End of the Spear
As an artist, by which I mean anyone who creates artistically in any medium, do you ever use your art as a down in the trenches, fight fire with fire type of weapon in the never-ending battle against the forces evil; or is your art reserved only as an expression of beauty and love and hope for Art’s sake with the ancillary hope that it will be so uplifting that the forces of evil will expire from the weight of love’s suffocating abundance?
I ask because, as some of you may know (since I’ve whined about it here, here, and here, among other places), I have had a difficult time arting, so to speak, ever since Trump’s election. I felt both depressed mentally and suppressed artistically.
And I blamed it all on Trump and his supporters.
But after a while, I realized the blame for my problems wasn’t with them, but with me…
And once I realized that, I’m happy to report I got back into the writing groove of things.
Now, an issue I face with my art is that I want to turn everything I write into a weapon against all that I see is wrong.
And this is a thing, apparently.
An important (at least to me) article regarding Art’s response to Adversity was published online yesterday by The New Yorker entitled Making Art in a Time of Rage. In it, it questions the famous Leonard Bernstein remark made not long after President Kennedy’s assassination that essentially said artists should respond to violence by arting more beautifully, more devotedly and more intensely.
Basically, artists should keep doing happily what they’ve always been doing but do it harder.
One response from the article to Bernstein is:
…not only are intensity, beauty, and devotion insufficient to halt violence, they can become its soundtrack. Wilhelm Furtwängler’s renditions of Beethoven during the last years of the Nazi regime attained a fury of expression that few performances have matched. The conductor’s apologists argue that these recordings convey an unspoken resistance to the Nazi regime. But they could have served—indeed, almost certainly did serve—to bolster a sense of national fortitude in the face of an advancing enemy. At heart they were mute, noncommittal, open to appropriation. The same may be said of any form of artistic expression that fails to make its political convictions explicit (emphasis mine).
I’m not here to tell anyone how or what to do in regards to their creativity. Regardless however one does her or his art, I can guarantee that Evil will still and always persist.
Unfortunately, in light of today’s persistent evil, I cannot make the same guarantee that Art will persist…
Therefore, what matters most is that it’s done for as long and as hard and as purposeful as it can be done.
Art on, my friends!