Wednesday, September 20, 2006

seeing bill clinton on the daily show reminded me of what a leader of the free world can look like. i had almost forgotten. over the years i have made it a goal of mine to better understand the views of people i disagree with. i grew up in a liberal household and have always led a lifestyle surrounded by liberals and therefore grew up with the belief that conservatives eat their children. i have often therefore found it difficult to understand their opposing views. but at the same time i have known that i am not being fully informed if i only hear the voices of those who parrot my own. i wish that i could remember the quote i once heard by jfk about how he would like to speak to those he disagrees with because he already knows what those that agree with him think. very wise words. that was my goal. to listen to, rather than constantly reacting to, the other side. as if there is only two sides. silly. but i started by listening to rush limbaugh (years ago now) at times on the radio. i know. trial by fire. but if i could start at an extreme i thought i might be able to most quickly learn how to swim by jumping into deep water. over time and in between expletives i began to understand some of the basic conservative beliefs. i could understand that you might believe that what is good for big business is good for companies that employ people and that the more people who are employed then smaller is the number of people who suffer in poverty. ok. if only it were all that simple. but i could see how you might approach things that way economically and socially. with these simple ideas i began to strengthen my ability to listen without reacting. needless to say i have long since stopped listening to conservative hate radio (or its liberal counterpart for that matter). but i do keep my eyes and ears peeled for conservatives, like governor mccain or tony blankley of the washington times and npr's left, right and center show, who i have continued respect for and can easily disagree with whilst fully understanding, and respecting why they believe what they believe. my concern is that the present administration is undoing my good work. it has finally gotten really difficult for me to listen to bush without just bristling. his 'conviction' has morphed into increasingly pissy stubborness and people continue to die as a direct result. and trying to watch cheney on 'meet the press', christ, i just kept fantasizing about grabbing him by the back of his head and pushing his face down into his soup. i once heard the dalai lama refer to the leader of china, because of his continued oppression of the tibetan people, as his greatest teacher about compassion or understanding. with that as the model, ive got an increasing workload with this administration. lots and lots to learn. lots.

Friday, September 15, 2006

just got back from the banksy show downtown. it was a show that wound up being a lesson to me in the power of context when it comes to art and messages of dissent. at dinner with a friend, M, a few nights ago, i mentioned i was going to see this show. he said he didnt like banksy. found him too obvious, M said. i replied that he was just being an art snob. banksys 'art' is obvious. he is a graffiti artist i said. his works are messages of dissent. they are meant to speak with directness like a statement. not obliquely like a poem. they are not meant to subtly imply, nudge or allude to the intangible part of our lives in the way that my favorite "fine" art does. so there. that was the other night.
we now move forward to this afternoon. i am standing in the middle of this big open multi-roomed warehouse space. banksys stenciled graffiti are reproduced on canvases, and other surfaces that hang like canvases, around the room on the walls like art. like Art. gone is the boldness to it all. the boldness that i most appreciate and find exciting about his public work. the boldness now seems really juvenile. precocious but simple. simple like slogans. but because of the context they are in now, it is all preachy and uninteresting. if you put a guantanamo detainee at disneyland (like banksy did do) it is an exciting piece of dissent and its very existence is bold. it is bold even before you think of the content. then as you combine those two thoughts 'how did he get it done' with ' its a guantanamo detainee in disneyland' a third undefined relationship happens and that good click of recognition happens that makes you recognize something being good in art. but on a wall at an art show, both those supports are missing and you are simply left with his object of art. no depth. got it. next.
now all that being said, the fact that he is doing bold work like he does in the present political and social climate is not lost on me. i will continue to be charmed by the outrageousness of what he is able to pull off. i will continue to look for and appreciate the work he does about our world ON the world. but next time i might skip the gallery show. viva la revolucion.