Yesterday, on my blog post, I got a comment that completely puzzled me. I used an allusion, not even a direct quote, from Paul Simon’s American Tune. For the record, right now, that song can move me to sobbing tears.
Anyway, this commenter, who thought she was liberal but was in fact extreme left – more on that later – was offended I used the song of a liberal song writer for something she considered a “conservative” blog post.
(Kids, explain to me, I must be getting old – when did loving your country, the only country on earth where citizenship is based on a common constitution become a conservative thing? When do people who go around blogs stomping and tell you that you can’t do this or that become “liberal”? I must be getting old, and someone hacked my dictionary.)
The comment was so out of the left field that I was ruder than I’ve ever been to a person on this blog – I think. Part of me wasn’t even sure what she meant by informing me that Paul Simon was an unabashed Liberal and that I should “Stay classy” for using his lyrics.
And then I thought about it. And I thought about it (and this is always bad.) and at last I figured out what goes on in far left minds.
These are far left minds, never mind that they call themselves “liberal.” Their mental equipment is much the same that is found in Stalinist apparatchiks. They are not the soft left, the people who somehow believe government handouts will go on forever, but who bear no animus towards those who think otherwise. They’re not the center left which has the vague idea the government should look after everyone, but doesn’t really care how to accomplish it.
No, these are the people who, were they in charge, would make sure that no one could work without a political loyalty oath. This is because they have – poor sods – confused politics with religion. They think what they call “liberalism”( It reads closer to Marxism and in fact, as we’ve seen in the last couple of days, they get very upset when we say the Communist Manifesto isn’t a work of genius and the perfect blue print for society. Which leads credence to the idea that communists took over the democratic party in the thirties, as Heinlein claimed. As does the fact our current president was endorsed by Putin, Chavez and PC USA.) anyway, they think this ideology confers inherent virtue upon them. It is, as I said, scripture, not a belief about society.
So if you believe in it with your whole heart, you’re one of them. And if you’re one of them, they can consume your art in the certainty that it’s been “consecrated” by your beliefs.
Suddenly I understood the tsunami of cr*p that has poured out of almost every traditional publishing house and music house, and the sad, joyless parodies of visual arts that fill the most recent rooms of our museums.
Expertise is not needed. Intelligence is not needed. Anything that touches the heart and moves the soul is not needed. What is needed is the joyless and unimaginative adherence to a set of principles that – yes, I know Marx thought the state would eventually wither away. His formula was Give more power to the government — ????? – The state withers away. And I actually don’t think he ever believed it. Like al losers, his idea was that he’d acquire power through the government and lord it over better people than him – in human history have created some of the greyest, darkest, most human devouring societies.
So you either have to want that, or you have to willfully ignore history economics and human nature. Of course, it doesn’t need to make sense. It’s religion.
But once you’ve warped yourself to believe this, you are “good” and everything you create is good, even when it OBVIOUSLY isn’t.
It isn’t a great secret in NYC publishing. The code term is “is one of the good people.” And the editors will tell you their duty is to “lift the consciousness” of the people – a Marxist term for filling them with communist ideas – not to sell books.
The problem is not that they’ve sold their birthright for a pot of message. That is of course a problem, but not so much as the fact that they’re not even looking at the piece of work – even if they were capable of perceiving art – but at the creator. And if they don’t know the creator, they search the book/art/song for “hints” of politics. If you’re “liberal” (please read Marxist instead of that) then you’re in and your work is “good.” Because good is not a matter of quality but a matter of “do you belong to the church of eternal collectivism.”
This is what upset the woman so much. I took the words of someone she perceives as a fellow co-religionaire (is he? I don’t know. I’d say he’s one of the hereditary democrats and now getting old and hasn’t re-examined his beliefs in twenty years or so. And of course he moves in the same circles as the commenting critter. BUT why should I CARE?) and used them for heretical works – wail – how dare I?
I’ll tell you how I dare. Art – real art, done right – transcends time space and the mere mortal clay that created it. I don’t think Shakespeare had a libertarian bone in his body (Kit Marlowe might have. Stop giggling. Yes, I used the word bone. NO I don’t meant that. Juveniles!) but I can be moved and transported out of myself by his plays. Jane Austen was, I’m sure, a good monarchist. She surely believed in a class system, but why in heck’s name should that stop me enjoying her books? Agatha Christie had some shockingly obtuse political statements in her thrillers, but I still re-read her mysteries every year. Why shouldn’t I? ART ISN’T THE PERSON.
It’s perfectly possible, when an art piece touches you deeply, to find meaning in art that is sometimes the opposite of what the author meant. I know I have communist fans who adore Darkship Thieves. Fine. I’ve released the art (I’m never sure I produce that, of course!) into the world, and now it lives in other people’s minds. I can’t stop it.
And ALL the libertarian fans of Firefly and Serenity know that Joss Whedon is as the offended commenter would say “quite liberal.” So? They see another meaning in the art.
From this side of the desk, let me tell you, when I’m flying, things come through my fingers that I haven’t even thought much less shaped. Subconscious? Channeling of the source of shamanic dreams? Who knows. Art is what it is. If you control it too closely it misses that divine spark. (To whom it may concern, this is not an excuse to be sloppy in craft. If you’re thinking that you don’t even know what I’m talking about.)
So, Joss Wheddon channels libertarianism, or maybe we just read it into it. It doesn’t matter. Art only lives when it meets the mind of the one experiencing it. And if it’s really art, not sad collections of twisted kitchen implements made by someone with the “right” political convictions and therefore “good”, it touches you in ways you don’t expect, it creates a symbiotic experience in which your mind and the artist’s interact and the result can be quite unique.
Paul Simon is, I’m sure, a real artist (not always. No artist has uniform production) just like Leonard Cohen, whom I also adore is a real artist (though I’m sure he’s also “quite liberal”.) Joss Whedon is a real artist too, and I don’t mean to stop consuming his work, even if I might, in repulsion at some of his political work, buy stuff used instead of watching it in theaters.
You see, we perceive art as art and good as good and evil as evil. Because politics is not our church, we don’t require oaths of fealty. We just require that the work itself move us. We’re odd that way. Heck we can even like a PERSON as a person while hating their politics. Because people sometimes embrace a superficial good without looking beneath, or want to belong to the “cool kid club” and refuse to believe that what is beneath is as evil as we say. That doesn’t make them evil. Only useful idiots. What makes them evil is confusing politics with religion and going around stomping and demanding fealty. Okay, mostly it makes them annoying and stupid. BUT that’s a form of evil when it’s done on my blog.
Go listen to American Tune, if you haven’t. At this time and this place, I challenge you not to cry when you hear it.
And as for consuming the art of “quite liberal” people – grins – yes, ma’am. Art enriches the soul, when it’s good. And unlike people who think “good” means “Believes like me”, I have a soul.
And, oh, yeah, I aim to misbehave.