This Wendell Berry quote, from on “tolerance and multiculturalism,” from his essay “The Joy of Sales Resistance”, has stayed with me:
‘Quit talking bad about women, homosexuals, and preferred social minorities, and you can say anything you want about people who haven’t been to college, manual workers, country people, peasants, religious people, unmodern people, old people, and so on.’
Please do keep in mind Wendell Berry is NOT going to buy a computer.
My discount predictions (buy 2 get 1 FREE): Radical campus politics will continue to settle into newsroom malaise and an increasingly fevered search for meaning, identity and the Self in the culture-at-large. Folks already committed to particular doctrines will continue seeking solidarity with other Selves through identity collectivism and group-belonging while making [elements of] politics, the humanities and the social sciences something like an exclusionary religion (the pathway to a better world).
Down below the radicals and up-top some high minded idealists, free-thinkers and all manner of others in-between, a bit like folks in a church, which is why there might be so much hatred and potential overlap with religious belief (to say nothing of the relentless focus on authoritarian/totalitarian impulses).
I’m pretty sure publicly taking the mildest ‘bourgeois’ stance on marriage, kids, work etc. will continue to make one an enemy, political and otherwise, to those gathered around such nodes.
The Boston Evening Transcript
The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.
When evening quickens faintly in the street,
Wakening the appetites of life in some
And to others bringing the Boston Evening Transcript,
I mount the steps and ring the bell, turning
Wearily, as one would turn to nod good-bye to Rochefoucauld,
If the street were time and he at the end of the street,
And I say, “Cousin Harriet, here is the Boston Evening Transcript.”
The best kinds of clubs tend to be those whose members aren’t even sure they’re in a club.
The most interesting kinds of people can be free-thinkers, maintaining their humility, kindling a flame of quiet moral courage when called-upon.
Some of these people are quite traditional, others, not so much.
Theodore Dalrymple on Banksy:
‘The enormous interest his work arouses, disproportionate to its artistic merit, shows not that there is fashion in art, but that an adolescent sensibility is firmly entrenched in our culture. The New York Times reports that a lawyer, Ilyssa Fuchs, rushed from her desk the moment she heard about Banksy’s latest work and ran more than half a mile to see it. Would she have done so if a delicate fresco by Peiro della Francesca had been discovered in Grand Central Terminal? In the modern world, art and celebrity are one. And we are all Peter Pan now: We don’t want to grow up.’
Well, I certainly hadn’t noticed an adolescent sensibility at the NY Times. Certainly not.
An image of one of those Peiro della Francesca frescoes here.
Perhaps it’s worthwhile to view Banksy as a kind of poor man’s Damien Hirst: A ‘working-class’ British guy with some native talent but not too much in the way of formal training nor arguably lasting artistic achievement (perhaps in the ‘graffiti’ world). Instead of working as a gallery, mixed-media modern installation artist like Hirst, he’s followed the street-graffiti path leaving ‘transgressive’ messages on politics and ethics scrawled across the cityscape in anonymity. For all his irony, and the fact that he’s likely in on the joke, Banksy still finds himself subject to the larger forces at work where art, money, & fame are meeting.
As a girl in Seattle here mentioned to me at a party: ‘His work is a meta-commentary on art, commerce, greed, creativity and all that. His becoming a commodity is the ultimate irony.’
Deep, man, deep.
Yet, as to Dalrymple’s point, I could imagine an adult sneaking off to check out a Michaelangelo fresco with childlike anticipation, and maybe even a little childish or adolescent delight at being the first to arrive. Of course, I think that fresco tends to engender a much deeper and complex response than that of Banksy’s work and ‘social commentary’, but the desire for beauty, hope, and brief bursts of transcendence aren’t going anywhere. This reminds me of Richard Wilbur’s poem: ‘First Snow In Alsace.‘ which evokes the grim realities of war and suffering covered up by a beautiful snowfall.
Here are the last stanzas and line:
…You think: beyond the town a mile
Or two, this snowfall fills the eyes
Of soldiers dead a little while.
Persons and persons in disguise,
Walking the new air white and fine,
Trade glances quick with shared surprise.
At children’s windows, heaped, benign,
As always, winter shines the most,
And frost makes marvelous designs.
The night guard coming from his post,
Ten first-snows back in thought, walks slow
And warms him with a boyish boast:
He was the first to see the snow.
The worst war can bring is juxtaposed against our simple childlike wonder (and possibly childish) delight at that which is beautiful and mysterious in nature. Of course, such desires can help cause the destruction of war, too, but…hey. People love to be the first and the coolest. As Dalrymple argues above, these childish impulses are the ones that should not be so easily encouraged nor celebrated, especially by Banksy nor his reviewers at the NY Times. I pretty much agree.
On that note, Dear Reader, I’d like to leave you these words from Slate’s review of that hot new motion picture-film, Joker:
‘The opening scene, in which Arthur, who’s peacefully but unhappily twirling a sign for a discount store, is taunted and then beaten by a gang of Latino-coded thugs, draws directly on the narrative of white persecution so effectively weaponized by Donald Trump.’