Starcat 1 by my favourite artist

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Something to Be

A recent retweet from my youngest daughter reminded me of John Lennon's magnificent, autobiographical, vicious and oh-so true song "Working Class Hero" the lines:
"Keep you doped on religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see."
Have never been so true.

Yes, but does it make bingly bongly
 Every time I hear the song, it reminds me of the trendy "alternative" people I know who still go to "challenging" theatre and art shows and who do indeed believe themselves to be clever, classless and free. Such  "events" usually have dissonant music, disembodied screams and howls, the occasional stilt walker,  galvanised steel buckets, some painted, some not, arranged promiscuously about the "space" in various thought-provoking attitudes. There will also be bicycle wheels (preferably painted white) spinning on axles with spoons welded onto the rims to catch blasts of compressed air that are triggered by a movement sensor hidden meaningfully somewhere in the room. 

And, of course, there have to be loudpeakers lurking beneath chemical-orange coloured plastic chairs with flaking chrome legs placed  in dimly-lit corners and producing  some sort of bingly-bongly chimes. Is the newspaper on one of the chairs a comment on the fact that all news is propaganda? And is all propaganda unwittingly Art? Or was it left by someone's granny? 

Enigmatic. The artist's objective is, in all probability, the highly original one of raising awareness of the disorienting, depersonalising nature of today's capitalist society and of the individual's unceasing struggle to steer a course through it. The secondary objective is most likely that of getting as much (taxpayer's) cash as possible in order to join the hierarchy s/he most vehemently denounces.

The correct pose to adopt as we view this difficult, transgressively original thought-poem that so effectively makes us question our attitudes to the modern world and social indifference is to caress one's chin with the thumb and forefinger while thoughtfully muttering "Hmmmm!" and wishing one's beard would fucking grow back pronto.

Awarenesses duly raised, our trendies still endeavour to climb the greasy pole of advancement in order to gain some piddling achievement and "be like the folks on the hill" while retaining their ideological, and personal purity. They will become a kind of "folks on the hill" but with BO,  washed-out scruffy clothes and an "appreciate me for what I am" type of mentality that is common to us all in adolescence. By our mid-20s most of us have discarded these narcissistic postures - unless of course you are from a comfortably-off background which is almost invariably the case of these 40-something "innocents". Probably once on the top of the hill, they will try to "educate" their neighbours in their own values by a mixture of example and tut-tutting disapproval, setting a shining template for us all. As the saying goes: "Shit flows downhill". 

Neanderthal man - probably the last time anyone was so
clever and classless and free -except for German Seifefrei
flute-playing hippies. The Neanderthal probably washed 
more often, though.
These free spirits tend to believe that they are indeed above the rest of us poor ignorants who have bought into the consumer society and spend money on soap, toothpaste, deodorants and other such fripperies. What they don't seem to understand is that they are as unfree as the people in front of them in the IKEA checkout - or almost. The poor deluded wage slaves in front probably don't smell of ripe sweat and so do not subject anyone's olfactory glands to an unwarranted sensorial invasion. Perhaps the people in front of our naturally-perfumed innocent aren't shopping "ironically", but so what? They are trying to improve their home to the best of their ability and make it more comfortable, decent and welcoming for their family.  

Such flower fascists who are so convinced of their liberal open-mindedness tend to be the most narrow-minded people you are ever likely to meet. They tend to be so obsessed with their own worldview that any other is  obviously mistaken and is almost beneath their sneering contempt.

Unfortunately we are all serfs in this new digito-feudal society, as I have already discussed here in depth and here and here in passing. This is also true for  my "alternative" acquaintances; it's also true for the flute-playing German hippie in the local square (with his VISA gold card in his pocket charged to daddy's account in case things get too tough) living the romantic vagabond dream; it's true for me and it's true for you. Just like our forebears, there is nothing we can do about it. Except of course be aware of the fact and live as decently as possible.

That - and shower daily  .

1 comment:

  1. In my experience, the truly free have no need to advertise their freedom or to seek to convert others, whether by art or other types of propaganda. They just are free and it suffices.

    I would go further and say that those who do need to advertise and proselytise are insecure and seek to use the approval of converts to convince themselves of the reality of their beliefs in themselves.

    The most common way in which would-be free people choose to express their freedom is by wearing strange clothes and hair-dos and piercings. By adopting this route they imprison themselves in their appearance and cannot dress any other way without losing their self-image, whereas the truly free person can wear a three-piece suit and business shirt without loss of selfhood.

    What I notice about much modern art is that works are often accompanied by a card "explaining" what it is suppose to express and the deep and complex meanings alleged are simply not available to the viewer by simply looking at the object. In other words, the work does not express what the artist says it does - except in his own head. It is simply one more collection of scrap metal or a rock with bits knocked off that doesn't actually express anything at all.