Thursday, March 31, 2005

I'm far too sleepy today to say anything remotely intelligent, but I do want to point out that someone has been taking great pleasure in spilling coffee on the HH and blowing it up over the last couple of days. This is one of the most frequent referrers to the Hat since Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Dirty Nazi Drawing

Sorry to change the subject here so soon, but I just have to get this off my mind. Leonard, your article on attempts to democratize literature is very funny and contains some good insights, but factually I hve to take exception to your characterization of visual arts as the work of a single auteur bringing his or her own physical and mental prowess to bear on the creative process. While a lot of art is made like this, a lot is not. Artists are assisted by staff and students and interns and advised by dealers and agents and critics to an astounding degree. In contemporary art, especially video and installation art, projects are simply too big and require too many skills to be done in any way besides collaboration. Even in disciplines associated more with individual effort like most 2D works are liable to be the product of a 'name' artist directing his or her assistants and applying just finishing touches personally. This isn't new in any way at all, either. The concept of a workshop producing art under a single artists name but the product of many individuals work dates at least to the Italian renaissance.

OK, back to politics - where I'm better off listening that speaking.

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Am I just missing it, or is the other side just too demoralized or indifferent to mount a cultural assault like they did in the '60s and '80s?
Too harried, probably. Conditions in the late '60s were perfect for a counterculture: the economy had been booming for over a decade, and a lot of people thought that it was going to keep booming indefinitely. This gave people (both young and middle-aged) a lot more leisure time than is realistic now. There's just not enough time in the day to work and have a family life and a social life and do much in the way of protest, unless protesting is your job, or your social life.

Rollin' Balls: A Response

From where I sit, there were three factors which combined into one big suckerpunch leading out of Election 2004:

1) The results themselves. It was especially hard for my wife, as she had committed uncounted hours of her time to the local Party infrastructure. While it may take a village, as the saying goes, at times there's only one villager with the light burning into the wee hours. It is difficult to come off of that, especially with empty hands. Her activity went from "pedal to the metal" to "wandering on the shoulders of the highway with an empty gas can."

2) Outrage overload. My reading list in 2004 consisted of about every anti-Bush political pamphlet, blog, and tome written. There's only so many times that you can start or end a thought with, "CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT" before tiring of it, and going into a lame duck 2nd Bush term, much of my political fuse was burnt. At least, that's what I had thought -- that Republican politics had pretty much bottomed out, sleaze-fest wise, before Frist & Schindler's Flying Circus hit the airwaves.

3) Business took a steep dive. Work is pretty hard for me to stomach on most given days, but when there's no activity, getting through the week can at times be brutal. (What I have to show for the first business quarter: a Minesweeper record of 148 seconds on expert, and about an 82% win-to-loss ratio on Freecell.)

And while I cannot speak for how others have taken the loss, my coping strategy has amounted to numbing out.

It certainly does not help matters that the Democratic Party has continued their wily strategy to capitulate to the Republicans until "the right moment." After the Gonzales hearings, the disappearance of untold billions of borrowed federal lucre, finding reporter after reporter on the public payroll as policy pimps, Bush claiming credit for the sunrise at every opportunity (e.g. the ripple effect of the death of Arafat in the Middle East), the Gannon non-inquiry, the stalled Plame proceedings, the impending "bi-partisan" doom for consumers that is the bankruptcy boondoggle, the ANWR vote, the continued misinformation campaign on Social Security, and now the quorum-of-three "personal relief bill" for the Schindler family, I am at a loss to point to a single whiff of evidence that there is a functioning opposition nationally.

I did feel empowered as the early weeks of November drew closer. I saw the internal polling numbers from the Kerry camp. I watched election projections on a thrice-daily basis. I took in the news at every opportunity. I talked in increasingly confident terms that yes, we were going to pull this off. It was not to be, however.

When I walked into the office on the Wednesday following the election, people spoke to me as though I had been diagnosed with a dreaded disease. Some even approached me and talked in hushed tones about how they were also [secretly] cheering for Kerry to win. Again, as in 2000, the most often asked question among my comrades in arms was, "How could that dumbass have possibly won?" (The more appropriate question is to figure out how "we" keep losing, but that is another fish fry.)

So, no, I was not ill. Heartsick, maybe. Disappointed, definitely. Bitterness & cynicism certainly are not terminal, but that is really what I was suffering, and now, I am only beginning to mend.

I do not have any answers as to how others are coping, or how my feelings sublimate into a larger collective ennui/disillusionment/recuperation. My feeling is that it is too soon to tell.

For my part, I am busy reconnecting with those things for which I find deep passion. Art, specifically my own photography and writing. Connecting to nature through my craft and through gardening. Rediscovering what it is that I love about music and movies, and finding new things to explore. Reconnecting with friends to talk about something besides politics.

Maybe those things will eventually play a larger part in the world, but for right now, I find myself deeply involved in finding what it is in me that can be an offer to that world, and connecting my personal experience to others who share my interests and passions.

Isn't that, however, how movements begin?

Rollin' balls, tumblin' dice about that Presidential election?

We had originally envisioned this issue of the High Hat to come out just before the vote, but that obviously didn't happen. Now, nearly five months on, and with all of us painfully aware of what the election meant, how does this effect what we wrote? How have things changed, culturally?

Nugent hinted a bit at an interesting topic in his "Images of Bush" piece: that, at the very least, one upside of having Bush in office is that it could lead to a rich cultural revival the way Reagan's presidency did. There was lots of good rebel art during that period, from punk to rap to comics to criticism; but unless I'm missing something, we haven't seen the same out of the GWB era. Rap has drifted away from politics and is holed up in its bling-laden mansion on the hill; rock has turned inward, and even the rowdiest stuff is curiously apolitical; and the fierce opposition voice of political columnists is nowhere to be found, replaced by the largely ineffectual samizdat of political blogging.

Is it a cultural sea change? A climate of fear? The backlash? It seems like the loudest rebel voices these days are coming from the right instead of the left, which especially makes no sense, because you can't be the dominant faction and the counterculture at the same time. What's going on? Where's the rebel renaissance of today? Am I just missing it, or is the other side just too demoralized or indifferent to mount a cultural assault like they did in the '60s and '80s?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Hat Blog post #1. Content-free since 2005!