Good art helps you cross the street because it’s interesting. “Lolita” is interesting. “Lolita” helps geriatrics cross intersections during rush hour.
Bad art (re: alt lit) compensates its suckiness via insincere gimmickry, or gratuitous and faux-edginess, like: bro-clown in workshop who tosses fifty
f-bombs in his story about a disaffected corporate worker to cover his lack of vision and originality. When you call bro-clown out, he says you don’t get him.
He says you must only read Chicken Soup for the Soul and John Green.
Urgh, this post makes me want to go young punk “”””punches”””” you (not an artful or polite stance, though totally right-on arts-wise according to the logic of this posting) , RK–why underestimate the “elderly” like this; one doesn’t have to be young to be gnarly, and if art can help one cross a street so they can get to the nifty gallery opening because they’ve already perused the cool one on the current side, that’d be lovely; just because one is having difficulty crossing the street doesn’t, after all, as the image suggests, mean one doesn’t want to–and if it is thus polite to provide this assistance, then politeness would be in the service of that cool art opening!…I wish this post would play its straight-up ultra smug meanness straight, and not also be saturated in cuteness/deflection by conjoining–albeit through disavowal–its beautifully humane image. Well, though this would be arch-cutesy-deflective too, I’d dig the post being titled something like Ideogram of My CockWalk, or somesuch. Well, on the upside, this post makes me appreciate the Talking Heads even more than I already do.
And I do agree that art needn’t always be polite–that it needn’t be a requirement and may sometimes impede engaging articulation. But, perhaps more so, I think it’s worth attending to how art (I am going to use a writing example) can be impeccably behaved stylistically and also astonishingly gutsy in its subject matter; Guy Davennport’s fictions would for sure want to offer their hand so you can cross a street, even as their sexuality is about as unconventional and many would argue depraved as it gets. His visions are extraordinarily challenging, but in the plainest (albeit an extremely aesthetically ornate plain), most un-swaggering way: art and nature are totally collapsed: vision becomes an ordinary Tuesday not just visionary and its frequent isolation from the quotidian–sort of like George Herbert.
If, however, this post is not being cheeky–the kind that’s mainly defecating ass, not delicious bubble-butt–and does want to propose that art can provide kind assistance in people’s lives, then I hug this post while all the while not desiring art always be friendly. I, for example, am amazed by Iago–and enjoy Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde animals, particularly his cow in cross sections and reassembled as out of order panels, and his split pig which sometimes aligns but mostly doesn’t through its unsynchronized motorized tracks.
My sense of humor is scattershot; I find, for example, the Talking Heads very funny, but “put away that gun, this party’s civil,” may be so gorgeously droll it’s not even humor but some else altogether. I totally laughed when I learned the locution “silly faggot, dicks are for chicks” (or however the Trix commercial redo goes) but that I was in the midst of sex at a sex-club may have skewed things. I think Wallace Stevens is funny, even though I’m unlikely to eructate into full burst laughter. “Bust A Move” gives me the grins.
I forgot to complete the TH hilarity: “try and recognize/what is in your mind”; that morph from ultra jaded wit to “new-age” counseling speak is awesomely amusing, I think.
Here’s a line I used to find funny–in the most wrenchingly disconcerting way, in an apex of dismantling poignancy–but I just looked it up and it turns out I had my verb tense wrong, so the reading doesn’t work nearly so well:
“Black Boy, O Black Boy,
is the port worth the cruise?” (Melvin Tolson, Harlem Gallery).
If the is were a was, I’d argue one has the most outrageously insouciant summary–ever–of the Middle Passage. “Cruise” is so extraordinarily wrongly right here; it’s massacre of the scale of the tragedy, the apex cruelty, via diction is so utterly wow and in its wowing funny, but then surging right back to, or never departing, sorrow, as sometimes the ocean is a matter of the “Blues” or, to quote MT again, the “wreck of the twelve-bars Blues” (this from memory so could again be off: that “wreck” I think may be “shoals,” or “the moment before the wreck,” to bring in the conceptual glue of this analysis: Emily Dickinson’s awesome wrecking of scale)–“Laughing to keep from crying” is one succinct way of putting it.