Everything is Political — Art.

Look, I don’t want to make everything about politics, but, as we used to say a few decades ago, everything is political.
 
It matters that amid all this crap that you stay engaged with creation and art.
 
Last Friday, I purposefully skipped The Installation. I still haven’t watched that speech, and never will.
 
Instead, I went back to MY safest space, which is art, and by being engaged with that, affirmed its power and hoped-for eventual permanent triumph over anti-human values.
 
I bookended this pivotal weekend with art.
 
Friday night I learned about two new artists, and heard and saw performed some of the most strikingly fresh music I’ve heard in a while:
 
https://clintonpattersonmusic.bandcamp.com
 
https://kidiband.bandcamp.com/releases
 
And last night, Monday, as part of the Monday Evening Concert series, the mounting of three of Julius Eastman’s pieces.
 
And I swear, nothing gives me more energy and power to fight the fuckers of regression and dismay and the champions of the death-drive than music and art and bodies in creative motion, carving out an aesthetically inclusive, morally righteous, maximally just space.
 
It IS political.
 
Fight. Stay active. Call. Protest. Listen. Support your sisters and brothers whose lives and bodies are more imperiled than your own.
 
But don’t forget about art and creation. It is one of our mightiest pillars. Support it. Spend some of your money on it. Support foundations and grass roots arts groups. Support arts education for children and especially children in underserved communities. Support arts education for the incarcerated. Go to your local museums. Participate in free happenings.
 
Before there was a country, there was the voice and the drum.

Artists: time to work.

This a call out to the artists. The writers, the performers, the musicians, the observers, the chroniclers, the dancers, the choreographers, the singers, the voices, those who must create: I want to have a serious, sustained conversation about our calling.
 
Let me re-post Toni Morrison’s famous paragraph:
 
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
 
We need to go to work.
 
So we’re doing the first order stuff: calling, donating, showing up, writing, calling again, faxing, engaging, resisting however we can, provoking advertisers to blacklist Breitbart, boycotting, marching, etc.
 
The next round is organizing in a more substantial way. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, and it’s not my strong suite.
 
What is my strong suite is creative work.
 
And a whole bunch of you have the same or even better strengths.
 
We have resources. We have skills. We have a LOT of skills. Rare, important, difficult-to-master skills, and we have the confidence to deploy them at will.
 
How can we begin to link our skills and ideas and creative fervor with those who possess other gifts and insights and skills, and work together to create a movement? How can we enlist our skills in the service of producing change, provoking thought, provoking reflection, reconsideration; provoking empathy where empathy is lacking, caring for others where caring is lacking? Changing the conversation. Reframing the discourse. Destroying existing perceptual frames; help to begin chipping away at existing power structures, and building new, more fair, more just, more civil structures which respect and hold as equally human those of us who have the least as those of us who have the most? 
We have studios. We have media apparatus of every conceivable, technical variety. We write well. We type fast. We compose with grace. We edit with precision. We know how to do lots of basic, technical resource management. We organize information well. We understand modes of perception, aesthetics, style, form, content, formats, clear communication, and complication and difficulty where necessary. We understand signs, symbols, metaphors, interpretation, meaning. We have discipline, can work very long, tedious hours. We know how to deliver. We know how to meet deadlines. We are not intimidated by massive projects. We understand vision and how to translate that in to work.

What can we do on our own? What can we do in small groups? How do we enlarge a creative culture which recognizes common cause even without coordination?

What can we do to work with other agents of change from completely different backgrounds, with completely different skills? How can we work together?

I’m not talking about abstract ideas. I’m talking about concrete work.

What the products of that work will be is up to us.

But I have to do something more than what I’m doing, and art is what I’m good at.

If you’re reading this, and you feel this, then let’s start with this question: how can we help?

Thus begins the work.

Bach, Carter, Schumann

Went to this last night.

J.S. Bach, Eliot Carter, Robert Schumann.

Not one of my more favorite Tuesday night recitals, but I don’t go to necessarily have my tastes flattered.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 4: one of the all-time chestnuts. Grew up hearing it. Never actually witnessed it performed live. Given my semi-recent (re)engagement with Bach, I was intrigued to see how this would go down.

Within about seven notes, I was losing a little interest in that project.

The 16th notes.

Jesus lord the 16th notes.

They never end.

I was however slightly stoked to realize the first movement is in 3/8…or is that 3/4? Yay for not being 4/4.

I was really here for the Carter.

Not as knotty as I expected. Much more easily comprehensible than I expected. With a bigger harpsichord than the Bach ensemble!

I am re-re-re-reconfirmed in my distaste of harpsichord, especially in a hall. Just…no. As much as I want to really dig this piece of music, the timbre of that instrument just doesn’t sit well with me. It has no real attack. It has AN attack, a sudden rise in amplitude, that settles instantly in to this dull sustain, and sits there for a moment, and then dies. If you play more than one note at a time, it’s mush.

I understand this is part of the point of the piece–to employ this timbre–and I admire the decision on a conceptual level; I really do. But…I can’t.

Schumann: boilerplate classical music.

I was in a hurry for it to end so I could go to sleep.

Is that undignified?