Sunday, February 15, 2009

They are not sociopaths.

From Glenn W. Smith on Firedoglake:
And so it is with a large number of Americans who defend a murderous health care system because their state has convinced them that chaos would follow reform. Their capacity for empathy is turned off by a thousand different cultural influences that celebrate selfishness and make "others" invisible or vaguely dangerous. After all, they can say, they didn't set the building ablaze. Order requires that they allow others to die behind the locked doors.
And so it is with a large number of Americans who defend the wisdom of criminal business "leadership," the privatization of the military, the mantra of tax-cuts before, during and after everything. But maybe more interesting in Smith's essay is this passage on empathy.
Schmitz clearly has a capacity for empathy. We see this in her reaction to great stories, by Chekov, Twain, and others. But that capacity was deadened by the Nazi state.
And so it is not only with the rapt audience of Bill O'reilly's The Factor, or whatever it's called. But likewise with the rapt, climbing Chelsea gallery set, the Los Angeles/Roma Nte Cocaine gallery hipsters, whose insistence on "success at any cost" has deadened the story-telling ability of art into a confused mantra of night-club sensibilities: "Tomorrow will never come," and "Art can never help anyone - though it shines." Of course, of course. That deadened sensibility, that cynicism, runs rampant through just about any public art forum I have been to.

Talk to some University level art instructors if you don't believe me.

It results not from the too-broad reach of modernist art principle, nor the wild every which way that art has gone over the past 5 decades. It's from the loss of empathy as the chief facilitator and enterprise of art-making.

Whether writing in the tradition of, or with the inspiration of Chekhov, or Twain or Pynchon or Virginia Woolf, I meet lots of bad writers. None of them, good bad or otherwise, believe the novel is useless, and only a vehicle to promote their own writerly celebrity. Wouldn't it be nice to say the same for the painters? And even nicer to say it of their promoters.

Empathizing with Schmitz, or Chelsea, isn't getting any easier.
Ciudad de México, barrios, colonias, arquitectura.

No comments:

Post a Comment