A Lighter Shade of Black… and not quite as bright as kedazzle
I will try to deal with each of your replies in turn.
I must take issue with Mr Black’s language. His idiolect is too polarised to do justice to more subtle political writings (for examples see my previous article).
‘However, if I make a piece of Art that constantly reaffirms traditional family structures and uses this as a strong theme I am... invisible’
Does every work of art which does not ‘claim that the nuclear family is a tool for the oppression of women, and queer people, and state so as a strong theme’ necessarily ‘constantly reaffirm traditional family structures’? Mr Black seems to fail to see that these more subtle works still carry their message, all be it less visibly (note: not invisibly) than his own. Furthermore, by aligning himself as ‘contrary’ does he not imply that these ‘invisible’ works and indeed myself (‘Contra-Wintergreen’) have (in contrast) aligned ourselves with tradition/state/etc.? It is inaccuracy to define his own works as other to those that are essentially arguing the same point. If kedazzle (and feminism) has taught us anything it is that this kind of ‘self-criticism’ can only weaken our stance. (I know that I appear to be just as guilty here and so I shall respond to kedazzle in time.)
If indeed his polarising tone was only adopted for strength of argument then I am sure that he will agree the ‘visibility’ of a work is more determinate on his skill as a writer and his audience’s skill as ‘readers’. Nonetheless, he still seems to be intent on underestimating his audience. Surely they are capable of more than just being force-fed his message? When his audience grows to include people incapable of little more than force-feeding then he will have some justification for cramming his message down their throats. Currently, however, his audience is comprised of critically minded individuals with similar opinions to his own.
I am particularly interested in Mr Veins’s identification of strong polemic to a like-minded audience as a ‘war-cry’. This is perhaps justified in times of political unrest, for example, in contrast to Blair’s own war-cry. I am personally more in favour of subversion. If a message appears to be subtle, but is subtextually blatant and powerful, I would have thought it more effective to sneak it into a reader’s mind without them knowing. Then they will think that their change of opinions arose out of their own minds. I always find that things that I learn for myself are always better remembered than things I have been taught by others. The problem I find with art which is too blatantly political is that people often raise their defences and don’t allow it to influence them. I see this as a problem with overtly political art. It is alright to lead people with a war-cry, but not everyone wants to be led. I am not convinced that fighting these people is the best option either. This is where subconscious conversion comes in.
Response to Kedazzle:
‘If Mr Wintergreen is trying to argue that to undercut with bullish polemic the first aesthetic principle of art - the essential meaninglessness of beauty that seperates us fro unthinking, unfeeling beings - is to lessen even the most politically urgent of works, then I concur wholeheartedly.’
The idea of purely aesthetic art was running through my mind whilst writing the original post. I am convinced that Mr Black could write considerably better music without limiting himself to polemic. Part of my reason for writing the article was to encourage him to elucidate his reasons for moving away from the idea of pure art. However, I do not believe that he is much interested in creating art for purely aesthetic reasons anyway, which is quite understandable. I disagree with Mr Black in his assertion that ‘The reason you can't separate Art from Politics [note: big P] (or indeed vice versa) is that they are parts of a whole.’ A large proportion of music that is written has no Political motivation. In the canon of Western Classical music, the only works that immediately come to mind which have a direct Political link are religious works of music, Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ (originally his ‘Napoleon Symphony’) and several works by Shostakovich (Symphony no. 5 and Lady Macbeth of Mzensk to name but two). Therefore, that leaves a lot of Art which has no Political motivation. They are of course grounded in the politics of the cultures which produced them but this is very different from saying that they support these cultures, as Mr Black asserts.
‘The dangers of such an approach, whilst intellectually laudable, are very real: this sort of self-referential, subtly self-undermining polemic is precisely what caused the feminist movement to implode under the weight of its own self-criticism.’
My criticism is not intended to completely tear apart the work of polemicists like Mr Black, rather to encourage its evolution. In addressing problems such as the communication of Political ideas on sites like the Rhexis among others, I hope that polemicists will be encouraged to improve their approaches. As to purpose of the Rhexis, I think Mr Veins has already hinted at it.