Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And Then Came More Validation

Modern Art was a CIA weapon.

A selection:
Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America's anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism...The US government...faced a dilemma. This philistinism, combined with Joseph McCarthy's hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in...The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time...

Zero Dark Thirty is Harry Potter is Twilight is Dark Knight Rises is Hunger Game Of Thrones. Corporate art, like corporate news and foreign relations, has a distinct agenda and distinct sources. Regnery ghostwrites and publishes Sean Hannity books, then purchases them in huge quantities on Amazon.com, creating artificial sales numbers that put the books, briefly, on the bestseller lists, and stick them in libraries and bookstores across the country.

And Then Came The Next One, Part 1; Part 2.

What makes the success of these soulless pieces so horrible is not specifically that they are bad, or even that they are deliberately used to socially engineer people. They are but another set of the grand narratives of the age--nations and consumers competing for scarce resources; Big Bangs; random, pointless, mortal lives. No, what makes their success so horrible is that, even bolstered by billions of dollars, forceful bandwagons, and the most powerful propaganda machines on the planet, so very, very many of the end-users actually believe that (1) it was their own choice to like the product, and (2) the product has intrinsic value.

This is where even the NFL, and all the bowl games, are ahead of major artistic expression. Pop-books, movies, and art sell themselves as having risen to the top by virtue of their superior quality. They couldn't survive without the major institutional backing and cultural engineering that goes into their success, but neither could the NFL, so put that aside for the moment. What makes the NFL different than our books and movies is that, even swarmed by tobacco, beer, military, and truck ads, the NFL still has players who are very good athletes. Fifty Shades of George R.R. Martin's Embarrassingly Virginal Man-Scenes, though, possesses the comparative equivalency depth of toddler football, but without the promise of ever growing up.

5 comments:

  1. I can see how the hegemony understandably also plays out in art, by reinforcing both economically and politically useful ideas.

    I'm having trouble specifically with the "Hunger games" though - how does it help them? Although it habituates to things such as murder as any other movie, still, the grand story is about oppression and resistance (which, afaik, succeeds in the end).

    Is that not a dangerous idea to put out there, even if properly diluted with other messages?

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    Replies
    1. It would be a dangerous idea to support (the idea of resistance and success) if it wasn't already "out there." People are aware that governments have changed. What is important, from the elite perspective, is to associate change with not-change. Consider Obama's campaign, for the easiest example, which ran, literally, on "change," while being the complete antithesis of even the stunted mutant-child of the 2008 supporter's limited definition of the word ("change").

      (Let's put aside, by the way, the express "CIA" connection that began all this. The CIA may or may not be "involved" in any given art, just as they may or may not be involved in any given military operation or educational institution. At this point, though, a mere level-E project manager will fire people and outsource jobs without being told to do so by the chairman. Community fair selection committees and even independent artists are able to duplicate, solely, social policies that might've begun decades ago, and then taken thousands of people to coordinate. The end result "came from" the original idea, but it's not as though the Mission Impossible team is ghostwriting every trash novel out there.)

      Hunger Games helps elites on a higher level than reinforcing economically or politically useful ideas. It is a subtler attack on resistance, by portraying resistance in an unrealistic way. When evil overlords become too ridiculous, and resistance becomes too made-up and sensationalized, portrayals of such resistance to evil seem totally fictional. The connection between art and living people is lost. The ancient Greeks could look to Gods who made mistakes, had wild sex, got punished, et cetera, but our Gods are now infallible--impossible to rebel against. Our heroes, too, are so ridiculously over-perfect (and inconsistently characterized) that it becomes impossible to fully identify with them, and impossible to see ourselves in their shoes.

      Barbie, wearing six layers of professional makeup and heavily photoshopped, with a careful smear of grease on her left cheek, delivers one-liners that took fifteen minutes of committee planning to script, while shooting the hell out of Hitler's Grandson, who eats baby-souffle while laughing at a stack of orders for the execution of people who didn't pay their parking tickets.

      Obama presents himself as deeply moved by tragedy, rather than uncaring, not because he is deeply moved, but because he's sending signals of being "not one of the bad guys" that everyone has learned about through pop art. His lack of cartoonish drama makes him able to trick the masses into thinking "He can't possibly be an evil overlord, because he's nothing like _______ in Pop Movie 2013."

      Similarly, the human qualities of those who might offer tangible resistance are used as proof that they are not the heroes art has taught us we have been waiting for.

      It's admittedly harder to see this stuff in art. If you watch local politics, and you're skilled at seeing political maneuvering occur, you're able to understand, and be saddened by, how a genuinely well-meaning small-town councilperson can get subverted by routine and old money into (lesser) evilism. With art--the stories of the age--it takes a different set of skills to discern the difference.

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    2. Ah, seems obvious after the fact...
      Honestly I wonder if it is wort it to keep trying - developing skills and finding the truth is only possible in community, and if no social structure exists to support such learning, are the glimpses of wisdom that may or may not be accessible individually, depending on ability and discipline, worth it? I mean, just articulating sane humanistic ideals at this point seems so thoroughly absurd against the backdrop of contemporary art, politics, and economy, that... eh, i'm not really sure where I was going with this

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    3. There's an aspect here of being a time capsule--being one of the monks who passed down how to write during the Dark Ages, perhaps.

      But then, how many time capsules of that sort were there? And what are they waiting for? If you look at the world a certain way, it's never been good.

      Imperial Greece? Imperial Rome? The Dark Ages? Crusades, colonialism, slavery, serfdom, industrialism, total war...?

      Our duty for goodness is, here, is to not give up--to keep trying, even in the face of the misery we see.

      Seems bleak, right? Remember, though, that if there ever had been a good civilization, memory of it would have been scrubbed out of the populace by the current rulers. It's possible that history wasn't as bad as we believe, and that we look at the world as a bleak, tiny improvement over a dark past only because our rulers want us to believe that things here are better. Think of us as a temporal version of the pop western image of North Korea. We don't really know what the past was like, in all likelihood. Everything else about this worldview is a lie that benefits the presently wealthy, so why would one component--history--have been overlooked?

      To be, even for one moment, truly alive, is to be then connected to everyone else who has ever reached that same place. When you're there, you no longer have to be told that it exists, or what it is like.

      You were never alone.

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    4. hoohah, I'll also add, in case you had missed it, that "Hunger Games" is plagiarism. Consider this article for a typically obtuse American overview--and note, most heartening of all, the incredibly decent response from the man the Americans robbed.

      We may post more about this later, but this will give you a head start.

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