In every town there is an abstract building, usually labeled as such. I remember remarking on that as a boy (to my best friend),”What could be less abstract than a building? It that where they keep abstractions? If I enter there, does reality become less concrete, or does the concrete of the building make it more so? How would reality change when viewed from the abstract building?” Looking back at that moment I’m struck by two thoughts: how I understood the concept of the abstract before I knew of the purpose of the abstract and what odd little boys my friend and I were. We were lucky to have each other.
I realize the chaos and randomness of my writing is confusing and potentially limiting to my audience but I’m never sure how many people see my work or of that number how many ponder my motivations. Perhaps they would assume it’s self-indulgence that compels me to write as I do. I hope it’s more than that. I can not understand how anything in this reality could be considered settled or that there is a firm basis for the concept of status quo. At the infinite even logic and mathematics break down, but we don’t live anywhere near there, do we? We draw the lines of the universe so that they fit into the utility that we need to go about our routine. To what end that routine leads, well, we don’t live anywhere near there either.
We sleep safe and sound in Procrustes’ bed.
That’s all well and good until there’s a crisis, personal or societal, and then we realize our house is built on sand, sand here being chaos, and suddenly an accounting must be made as to how we came to this crisis. Accusations are made, scapegoats assigned, the matter is considered settled. As far as I can tell, all the crises stem either from intellectual laziness (or fear of the intellect) or ignorance of the fact that there is chaos at the base of the system, which I suppose could also be thought of as laziness. It’s the path or least resistance, you can’t really blame us. It’s the nature of our bio-electric brains to continue in the pre-established circuitry as opposed to actively creating new pathways and for the electricity of our thought to take the path of least resistance. I’m not sure if that statement is ironic, a pun, a joke, all of those, or perhaps a tragic fact.
So the “status quo“, as it is known, would naturally perpetuate. This brings me to my main proposition, the value of dissent in the context of the arts and the necessity of dissent in the context of society.
The value of dissent in the context of the arts is very basic; artists are intellectual explorers, prewired to enjoy the type of thought that most people try to avoid. It would be a natural division of labor to encourage people with such a predisposition to pursue their best destinies in such endeavors. In my lifetime, I have seen fewer artists arrive each year, the art become increasingly derivative, and the support for the fine arts, well, there isn’t any to speak of. I believe that is based in fear of independent thought rooted in the violet dissent in America in the 1960’s. Just my opinion, I’m not going to try to back that up. Just for fun, name your favorite poet still living (Maya Angelou doesn’t count anymore, she’s a celebrity, same for Sherman Alexei. By the way, Ginsberg’s still dead.) If any of you said me, your reward is in Heaven (probably sitting next to mine).
The necessity of dissent in the context of society is equally basic; in order to survive, mankind is increasingly dependant on new patterns of thought to deal with the present and historical problems that are currently massing at our doorstep. Refinement of current thought is not going to get this done. This is an on-going process and requires on-going support.
So, support the arts. You might just live longer. We do kinda have a gun to your heads at this point. The contents of your wallet, please. Let’s keep this sophisticated.
I realize you didn’t start reading this to get intellectually mugged but you asked for it when you started reading a poetry blog. It’s your own fault, you shouldn’t be in this neighborhood. You don’t live anywhere near here, do you?
So really the mortgage crisis could be blamed on the abstract building, but trust me, the building just looks back at you and doesn’t care if you blame it. I’m not sure if that’s ironic, a pun, a joke, all of those or just a tragic fact.