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Friday, January 14, 2011
Amoral, But Not Half Bad


I am as excited as a thirteen-year-old girl going to a Justin Bieber concert, because Crispin Hellion Glover (yes, that is his birth name) is going to be in town with his travelling movie/slide/talk hootenanny thingMr. Glover is an artist, writer, musician, filmmaker, etc., who funds his art by working as a film actor, which is much cooler than buying a garage full of Bentleys.  One thing I appreciate about his art is its consistently amoral tone.  It is, as Uncle Fritz would say, free of moralic acid.

What do I mean by this?  Most of the time, it seems that our arts - especially "popular" arts - feel absolutely compelled to serve some socially useful end.  This simple story about a dog is supposed to remind us of what is right or wrong, or to urge us to give money to some insufferable band of do-gooders.  That romantic comedy is meant to remind us to be true to ourselves and to others.  Isn't art noble?  Well, fuck off, Mother Goose, and take Aesop with you.  I am more or less an adult, and I hardly need someone so feeble-minded that they ended up as a film major  to remind me of my essential humanity; I am already human enough for my tastes.  At least!

But as Oscar Wilde pointed out, art need not be subservient to other ends.  Consider murder.  (I mean as a topic - not as a lifestyle option.)  Many, possibly most, of our popular TV shows are about murder, and they inevitably follow this scheme:  a murder is discovered, and then an effort is expended to find out why it happened, and how, and to capture the person or persons responsible and to punish them - or to fix them.  This effort generally succeeds.  (Rarely, it does not, after which failure, there's a huge wallowing in Weltschmerz, and a suggestion that it darn well will  be taken care of in a future episode.)  This schema reveals a tremendous moral anxiety.  Apparently, we wish to depict murder in art, and watch it, but we must  have an answer, an explanation, and must see the killer captured.  But there is nothing to prevent a work of art from simply depicting a murder, and leaving it at that.  It's a compelling topic, touching on final things, and leads to all manner of edifying reflection.  Why must we feel uneasy without the stereotyped resolution?

Because we're slaves.  That is why.


Posted at 10:47 pm by Jeremiadist

January 28, 2011   02:22 PM PST
ne p0st

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