As the days shorten I’ve noticed that many of the poets (not all) who were quiet throughout late summer have started to write more. The decline in light perhaps triggers a creative urge? Ineluctable I would bet.
This song works because of the melody and the simple single note lead. It could be remixed into many contexts sped up slowed down, lyrics turned to nonsense and it would still work. Melody is king.
Hank Williams III in an interview shows the nature of a true artist, finding his own way irrespective of outcome. The true artists, one could say, have outcome independence; they don’t despise fame or accolades as that is part of human nature but they only welcome it if arrives as result of their faithful expression of art. Compare his world view and attitude vis-á-vis music in this interview to say Madonna, the quintessential media whore who pursued fame for fame’s sake, a hollow woman of naked ambition — a deliberately constructed persona whose public face is as mendacious as a politician at the start of a campaign. Listen to his attitude about the music industry at the 6:13 mark.
When you carry an attitude like that it will be communicated in a way that is unmistakeably authentic. In this video clip from the documentary The Wonderful Whites of West Virginia Hank plays acoustic guitar while Jesco White tap dances. Like or despise country music, this is as pure expression of art as you will find, somehow beautiful, happy, a tinge of melancholy and the lyrical subject of self-destruction. It is a human story inside the story, the relentless desire for expression in a broken world — guitar, voice, dance and the mark of Cain.
Here is a good example of what happens when we love the art and try to follow that admiration back to the man. We are sure to be disappointed.
Over the years artistic expression has been celebrated for its challenge of various orthodoxies whether those were, religious, gender based, sexual or long standing cultural norms. Who can forget the artist Andre Serarano’s photograph Piss Christ where the artist submerged a crucifix in a jar of his own urine all with US taxpayer money. It offended a lot of people, especially Christians but many defended his artistic expression right up to the present day. It was provocative, challenging etc. Several examples can be found here and here. Serrano himself considered it an attack on the commercialization of Christ supposedly. Some of his other works contradict this and I am thinking of the beaten nun photograph . But attacks on Catholicism and Christianity are really not attacking a dominant order anymore. The major media, art circles, most academics and many politicians are anti-catholic, anti-christian and anti-western civilization. They have become their own petty, smug orthodoxy. Where is the art that challenges them? I wonder when will some half mad artist produce a work of racism based on his understanding of human sub-species and anchored in neo-darwinian evolution. Or an anti-feminist work that portrays women as inferior to men based on studies showing their lower ability to handle stress and their lesser physical strength. Perhaps a play portraying gays as deeply disturbed individuals, with serious gender identity problems whose very homosexuality is an offshoot of a psychological pathology.
As the theologian Martin Luther said, “It all depends on whose ox is being gored.” I don’t imagine for a minute that those who defended artists that agreed with their world view would defend those who don’t. And neither do I believe artists should care what anyone thinks but should express themselves as they see the world. They should also be ready to not make a living, be ostracized, vilified, despised and hated.
There are plenty of reasons to engage in creative activity that has no possibility of being professionalized and won’t receive external validation. We paint because it’s therapeutic. We paint because it gives us new perspectives on the world around us. We paint because the act of creating is just as important as the creation. We paint because, god forbid, it’s fun, which is its own justification.
We all remember a time when we understood that intuitively. We were probably six or seven. We were encouraged to draw, to paint, to sing, to build things out of other things, and it never occurred to us that being good at any of it was relevant.
I never met a person, who when pressed, wasn’t a crypto artist, artisan, poet, writer or actor. One of the reasons we don’t admit it is because it could impact our ability to make a living. In the domain of business reputation is important and frankly there are those who would laugh and consider you “not serious” because of artistic pursuits.
Regardless, it’s a nice post read the whole thing.