05w36:2 Today's the Day

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 36 number 2 (today’s the day)

It being the fourth anniversary of Terrible Tuesday, I felt like I should comment here, since it’s something I’m wont to do anyway. These two articles deal with the USA. The first, published yesterday in the Globe and Mail, (and surprisingly free) is a wonderful summation of all that’s perceived to be wrong with the United States today, dealing with the usual Lefty complaints, but presented in what I think is a fair manner with an intelligence sometimes lacking as we assume everyone agrees with us and knows what were talking about.

The intro that the Globe published with it read: ‘9/11/05 The Watery hell in New Orleans shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, argues Paul William Roberts. Decades of oil-driven greed and misguided foreign policy have created a monster at odds with much of the planet and unwilling to take care of its own. The Stars and Stripes forever? Four years after the Twin Towers, it seems the superpower itself is starting to sink’.

It is an odd coincidence that the destruction of New Orleans came three weeks before the anniversary of the event which had such a profound impact on our psyches. I remember that day shattering the sense of doom that had been building as I watched North American society carelessly and recklessly consume ever greater amount of non-renewable resources for their urbane trucks, and argue about such irrelevant things as Presidential head, while letting Brittany Spears’ career get off the ground.

Then, the event caused a shift, and America went into its war mentally, paranoia growing like mushrooms around the social and ethical rot. Enron, the Iraq war, and then last year’s hope that it might all end in one humiliating defeat we could all get behind. But no, the Christians of the south prayed to their God and re-elected a man whom many in the world regularly compare to Hitler. Which is a characteristic of the hyperbole of our times, and not really accurate – for one thing, Hitler was competent. He had his evil plan and succeeded in replacing the Devil as a figure of evil for the secular age. The prayers of thousands of Muslims was answered in August, a month historically known for terrible things, and suddenly, America is spited upon, and the too-terrible-to-name administration is shown that it can’t do shit, but it can certainly let its citizens wallow in it.

So the second article looks back four years to the event and the New York artworld’s response to it with the thoughts of Arthur Danto. And I was prompted to write this lengthy intro by my own memories of finding art in the week after rather irrelevant, but I was haunted then by a quote that I’ve since been unable to track down, stating something to the effect that things like art are really important in times of tragedy to remind us that horrors aren’t the only story with regard to being human. Except this time, with the storm, I find watching CNN (since CBC is locked into a narcissistic drama) to be more compelling than any video art could ever be. As an artist, I find art totally lame right now. Danto hints at this in his article – the professional imagineers of our society cannot in the end imagine something more powerful than reality (and given how I’ve let Goodreads collect that anti-pomo arguments over the past year, I’m tempted to ask here that being disconnected from reality, how could artists not fail in the task?) But everything being as it is has taken the wind out of my sails in many ways – the catastrophe is depressing in that it was allowed to happen, and art is depressing in that it’s rather pathetic. And with the CBC on its perpetual walkabout, there isn’t really any good TV to watch, and the new season of Big Ideas on TVO hasn’t started yet. The usual end of summer blues aggravated by depressing world events … but, four years ago suggested that maybe this a new pattern, and in the end it’s a new addition to the list that prompts one to say c’est la vie. -Timothy

The flagging empire | Paul William Roberts
“In hindsight, the $14-billion price tag on the plan that had been drawn up for saving Louisiana’s coastline and the Mississippi’s delta now must look like a bargain to a Congress that has agreed to $50-billion in aid alone. It is safe to say that relocating more than a million people, along with the loss of the nation’s largest port, and the other economic consequences from Hurricane Katrina will bankrupt the United States. Or would, if anyone dared to call in the country’s debts, which now exceed any number of dollars one can write meaningfully – particularly since no one seems to know just what a trillion is anyway. It’s a known unknown. The unknown part is what happens to a nation that owes this much money: No other one has ever racked up such a tab. Even so, in the eyes of the world, the emperor stands naked. Monday’s issue of London’s The Independent noted: ‘We could be witnessing a significant moment in America. Hurricane Katrina has revealed some uncomfortable truths about the world’s richest and most powerful nation. The catastrophe in New Orleans exposed shocking inequalities – both of wealth and race – and also the relative impotence of the federal authorities when faced with a large-scale disaster. Many Americans are beginning to ask just what sort of country they are living in. There is a sense that the struggle for the soul of America is gathering pace.’ There is also suddenly a sense that the American Empire is in decline, that the only successful wars it has ever waged are the ones against the environment and its own people.”

9/11 Art as a Gloss on Wittgenstein | Arthur C. Danto
“[One of the truths I learned] was that even the most ordinary people respond to tragedy with art. Among many unforgettable experiences of the early aftermath of the event was the unprompted appearance of little shrines in fronts of doors, on windowsills and in public spaces everywhere. By nightfall on 9/11, New York was a complex of vernacular altars. In the course of that terrible day, a reporter had phoned, asking me what the art world was going to do about the attacks. I could not imagine that anyone not practically engaged in coping and helping was able to do anything except sit transfixed in front of the television screen, watching the towers burn, and of the crowds at street level running from danger and, later, trudging through smoke and detritus in search of someone they knew. I thought the last thing on anyone’s mind was art. But by day’s end the city was transformed into a ritual precinct, dense with improvised sites of mourning. I thought at the time that artists, had they tried to do something in response to 9/11, could not have done better than the anonymous shrine-makers who found ways of expressing the common mood and feeling of those days, in ways that everyone instantly understood.”

Long links made short by using TinyURL (http://www.tinyurl.com)
To remove or add yourself to this list, go here

emailed by Timothy on Sunday 11 September 2005 @ 12:07 PM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *