June 14, 2010

Against Post-Modernism

Painting, Politics, Poetry

I meant to write this when I was a little more contemptuous of things, but I allowed my contempt to simmer, and we can no longer get some out with a spoon. We would need a metal spatula or something of the sort.
The first thing is to say is that “The Literature” became a proper noun is because it still holds a lasting relevance to the world we experience. Without this relevance, the art becomes nothing, and is just an ephemeral blip on the radar screen.
To bring this into something I know better, I would like to examine painting. The old masters were really the “Old Masters” because they excelled in representational art. I know that with our ever-increasing hold unto technology, these representational artists have become just the photographers of olden days. In painting, capturing the moment is essential, just as representational literature is about capturing the moment, whether it exist in the physical world or in the soul.
Innovation isn’t frowned upon. When your own way of creating art is co-opted by a new technology, a revolution of sorts seems natural as the sun rising in the east. However, there are limits to the extent of revolution. Van Gough and Monet will be remembered because they painted pretty pictures, not because of their revolt. Pollock, Kitchen, and Rothko will find themselves in the dustbin of history, because what they were saying, or trying to say, made sense at the point that they were creating. Now, to me and to many other observers, they seem that they were throwing paint at a canvas. THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE DOING. Poetry, any art really, is not about throwing something at the page or the canvas and seeing what would result. Call it avant-garde, call it Dadaism, call it abstract expressionism, the future will remember it for what it is: nothing.
LeRoy Jones quoted Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karmazov’s famous, “All is permitted.” He fortuitously OMITTED the fact that this thought, when taken at face value, immediately leads to the assumption that there are no boundaries to what can happen, and we fall into anarchism, whether it be in politics or in art. Many great thinkers have taken up the repercussions of what happens after we allow all to be permitted. The important thing to note is that there is a middle ground. The ground between Ivan and say, Thomas Hobbes’s “Leviathan,” at least in their ideologies, is where the great art lays.
It always has.
It always will.
These poets will become footnotes in an anthology, at best.