Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Consciousness vs opium

While I'm still considering what it means that the personal is political, that every act is in fact a political one, why we tend to check our politics at the door, and how to make a difference — while I'm twiddling my thumbs, Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak, is calling America's artists to arms.
By including my political views, I was in direct violation of The First Law of Social Apathy, which holds a popular culture should exist divorced from any of the moral facts of its current political condition.

What folks want from the pop — hell, what we deserve as tax–paying Americans — is a nice soothing mind bath. A few chuckles. A nice melodrama in which to park our emotions for a couple of hours. In a word: opium.

This country's chief signifier is our staggering capacity to isolate ourselves from the effects of our political and lifestyle choices.

This is the reason, for instance, that so many people can vote for a party that believes gays are sub–human but still watch "Queer Eye For the Straight Guy," (because fags are so darn funny!). It's also the reason liberals can drive around in SUVs, while decrying policies driven by oil–dependency.

But of course it is one of the functions of art (yes, even popular art) to call people on such bullshit, to raise people's consciousness, to awaken their capacities for compassion.

William Faulkner probably put this best in his 1951 speech, upon accepting the Nobel Prize: "The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."

It seems to me that the time has come answer this call.
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