Monday, February 21, 2011

Puzzling Disparity

            There is something significant that should be examined and well understood in comparing the billowy success of modern visual art and collapse and disappearance of “experimental poetry”, ”experimental novel” and “experimental music”. They all vanished. Where is that inspired genius who was publishing poems consisting of one word repeated hundred times, where is the energetic composer, who was breaking concert pianos on stage? Who is reading Robbe-Grillet? Who is demanding that brilliant piece of new music by John Cage consisting of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence?
            Oh, you fickle public –one day you sit in rapped attention when Cage is performing his difficult composition  and during the intermission hear that” he makes us aware of the primal silence”[ or some rubbish like that] and never played his music again?
            Somehow in music concert halls no one is breaking pianos any more, listens to silences, no one is publishing one word poems and nobody is writing experimental novels about nothing at all, like the celebrated Robbe-Grillet. Contemporary novelists are writing excellent prose devoid of any idiotic “experimentations”, poems are moving our hearts as before,while any classical music composed after “Metamorphosen” by Richard Strauss in 1945 is very rarely performed.
           And yet- on my territory of visual arts, coverall clad workers carefully, very carefully are moving into position a large chunk of rock painted blue to be the marvel and the pride of the Tate Gallery. Other words- cretinism thrives in visual arts while literature and music was allowed to give it well deserved shove of the cliff. I am puzzled by that disparity.
          Perhaps the explanation goes like this: when you buy a book you page through it and when it seems promising, engaging, illuminating, or sparkling with clever language you get it. Similarly with classical music- when it is a collection of discordant, chaotic screeches and painful yammering you toss it back. Wrapping buildings, cutting and displaying cows in formaldehyde –that is all sponsored by the limitless generosity of multinational corporations. Cunningly and with glee they see it as a welcomed absurdity helping to spread the sense of resignation, alienation from truth, beauty, our culture, even common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Splendid piece. I might also add that, apart from the funding issue, music, literature and poetry are in some way or other governed to by duration and can therefor make greater demands on the attention of the audience. Reading Joyce or engaging in serious listening to the work of Schoenberg demands that one commits one's attention wholeheartedly to what is initially difficult and incomprehensible. The "modern" art gallery allows the spectator the conciet of being urbane and sophisticated in their taste, absent-mindedly gawping at all the silliness, vulgarity and dross. In short, the spectator gives these "works" precisely what they recieve; nothing, but an excercise in vanity. I'm not saying there's a great deal in Schoenberg (very little that isn't already suggested, and with greater beauty and imagination, by JS Bach) but it at least has some content and can't be "faked", which is something in this day and age.