The Art of Remembering and the Act of Forgetting


Cecilia Vicuña quipu menstrual
photo by ajisabel

Alice Walmart is buying Art to put into her Alice Dollhouse.

The wealthy, the rulers, used to commission art not just buy it.  I guess the only “art” that is commissioned anymore is the one that promises the majestic paean to large penises…Architecture.

Who has commissioned the modern Sistine Chapel?  Who has supported our poets?

No one.  We have just co-opted the arts to serve our economics.  Schools of poetry and so on.

I think there are arts that have escaped.  But only because they are extremely difficult to master, extremely difficult to appreciate.  This is different from the arts we encompass in our most common action–writing and speaking.

These arts are easy to “dumb-down”–rather, it’s easy to promote them as “useful” even if they fail as art–and they’re easy to make into commodities of instruction

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The more difficult arts of music, painting, sculpting instead seem somewhat “useless” to the common idea of the pragmatic doer.

Not the music of consumption.  The music of art.  Who would go listen to Charles Ives today?  (Who did when he was alive?)

The creation of a consumer culture may have opened the door to a common acquisition of the arts; and I’m sure it can be argued that literature opened a very real door to women in Western culture.

But what it did more of was package and sell a thing that would work like a casino–things that titillate, excite, promise, etc.  (Yes, there are things that soothe too–every high needs a low as complement and we make these too–smooth jazz for one.)  Things that knowingly trigger pleasure centers.  That is the gift of science.  The manipulation of the brain…the commandeering of the human will.  Congratulations Modern Science, you have made humanity the automaton we always feared we were.  If poor Descartes could see us now.  “I impulse; therefore I am not.”

There’s a story that George Washington Carver had a dream.  God appeared before Carver and told him to ask him anything he wanted to know.  Carver said, “Tell me everything about the peanut.”  And God replied: “Your mind is too small to understand a peanut.”  (Eliot Weinberger, intro to Cecilia Vicuna’s “Unravelling Words & the Weaving of Water”)

We are consumers of art even when we pretend to be sound artists manipulating digital noises.  We do not make art, we buy it and we produce it in order to sell it.

So, as technologies advanced in the replication of things, every man a consumer of arts in his own home (box) his own car, his own ear bud.

We, in all ways, create things that reduce us to singular agents of technological control.

Kings love this.  Technology is ALWAYS funded.  Art is not.  At least not real art.

Yes, I said “real”–do you prefer true art?  How about “natural” art?  How about the Art of the Cosmos?  Art of the Commons?

in Nahuatl, one of the names of God is “nearness and togetherness” (…del cerca y del junto)
from Vicuna’s “Connection”

We are conduits of energy.  Our greatest gift is our multiple ways of being artists–that is honing that energy into a momentary beauty.  It flows through me but I can “humanize” it and create beauty.

Of course, I can also make destruction.  And I don’t need to show you what that is if you have your eyes open and are looking in any direction.

The artist, if he or she is in touch with this reality, is NOT a manageable citizen.  The artist has no use for your socially acceptable ways of being.

But neither do kings and robber barons.  Are these not ends of a spectrum ranging for All to Abyss?

The desire to hoard and dominate as a mark of something more than the animal nature within; and the desire to elevate the sense of being alive via great creative power in music and language and art, again as set against the basic, dailiness of eating and sleeping.

Neither artist nor king cares a whit for you.  The king serves a devil; the artist serves a daimon.

The king is in reality, after the counting of his wealth and power, representative of negation.  “…the grass bends under the conquering armies; when they have swept by, it stands up again.” (EW, again)

The artist, having nothing to accrue but the transitory beauty of a momentary effort, encompasses the All.

I thought that all this was perhaps nothing more than a way of remembering….First there was listening with the fingers, a sense memory:/the shared bones, sticks and feathers were sacred things I had to arrange…To think is to follow the music, the sensations of the elements.  (from Vicuna’s, “Entering”)

Let us praise Art against forgetting.

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