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Aug 30 09 7:15 PM

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Anyway, working with Darren today, yaking away. This comes to mind.

This quote, from my buddy Mike Rostron who floats around here on occasion, of the rock group "Salvador Dali Llama" was one he and I had many sober and not so sober arguments about. I had for a long time(and a long time in the conversation) disagreed, saying by and large art didn't anticipate shit. When I think of the Beetles and "Revolution" I found a prime example--if that song was prescient, it was only prescient of self-entitled apathetic horse shit. And, for fact of the matter, and largely due to that generation, scooby doo wah, things have fucking not turned out "all right." Indeed, we're in deep trouble. The "scooby doo wah" generation by and large is still running the show, and only deeper into the hole. Examples abound.

But, on the other hand, Cather's "My Antonia" did fairly capture the epic nature of the frontier era. Boy Howdy.

And, I might say, unfortunately that Ayn Rand and Sun Tzu the last 30 years or so were big guns. It's important to note that those that read and fixate and are influenced by such writings may full well not "get it" as also in the case of "Revolution." That some over fed middle manager reads Sun Tzu and thinks of himself as a captain in the army of Imperial China is completely ridiculous. I suppose if someone came to screw you over with some stock deal or shady finance thing and you were allowed socially to shoot back(I mean with bullets, right) then there may be some parallel. Obviously not, you get to go home and enjoy a comfy bed and the security of your attorney's courage. That some mortgage instrument broker would identify herself with the "Engineer" in "Atlas Shrugged" as a primary contributor to wealth is equally stupid and self absorbed. Still, that doesn't mean that in a Hegalian sense such a notion "as is read" doesn't speak to the "spirit of the age." You ever meet a Christian that was Christlike?  When I see Sarah Palin Jesus is the first person I think of. Actually, the word I think of has fewer letters, and is an ancient nautical term describing a particular structure in cordage and knots. So, we shouldn't be too surprised, I expect.

So, I recant. Mike is right, if one properly understands the prescient nature of art. I, with a background in philosophy would assume that prescience must necessarily involve validity. Stupid on my part. It doesn't even involve understanding. It only needs involve identification.

So, the new thing should be right in front of our faces. Any guesses as to what it might be? I'm curious. I'm clueless on that score.

I hope it isn't hip hop.

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#3 [url]

Aug 31 09 12:39 AM

The "new thing" --as always-- would probably be nine-tenths the same old thing (...breaking away from scripted paradigm programming to find a wisp of reality amidst religio-ideological psychobabble, AKA: healing) plus some potent leavening from the genius loci of the current place/moment. Significant, that last part.

Whilst living in Alaska for the last twenty years I actually (on very rare occasions) have met some Christians who actually were Christ-like, but they were decidedly not popped out of the Sarah™ Palin™ popscicle mold. Wonderful people; authentic human beings. Transcending the big lie entirely, in fact. A red-letter version of the body of lore attributed to the Jesus of Nazareth is not nearly so heinous as that which is done by various corporations in [H]is name. Tunes by the Beatles ("All you need is love" ... would best be sung in the churches which claim to hold fast to teachings from this particular source; I particularly like the rendition by Dana Fuchs and Jim Sturgess in Across The Universe). Truest articulation of that Christ's core message which I have encountered.

To quibble (in the interest of optimism) I would assert the Scooby-Do Wah generation is not yet in control of the reins of this runaway nuclear reactor. In fact, this generation (the winnowed bits and pieces of which are just now starting to become somewhat amazed to find themselves cast as Elders of the Tribe and Inheritors of the various potent technologies of that which has gone before) is groping around with both hands to find its ass.

This is wonderful. The generations to fear are those who think (mistakenly) they know exactly where their asses are located and forcefully reach forth to firmly grasp said asses with a Nietzschean surety and total confidence. Nazi bastards.

Fear not. For better or for worse most of the Scooby Do-Wah generation have not even read Orwell, let alone Ayn Rand, Sun Tzu, and Hegal.  Fortunately, imho, "What Would Scooby Do?" is more likely to be the more pressing question for the up and coming set of trembling hands (when they are not preoccupied with taking a whiz despite enlarged prostates or dealing with those pesky menopausal hot flashes). A younger and much better-educated generation is becoming restive in the wings, stage-right and stage-left, wondering if maybe they should perhaps finally register, vote, and Take Corrective Measures given recent bullshit.

Everything is unfolding perfectly in its own way and its own time, somehow, I trust, despite momentary bumps and drama. A study of astronomy or even geology (...or any other science; everything appears to be connected if followed far enough) is very reassuring in this regard.  Or, if one does not have the time and interest for such study, listening to "All You Need Is Love" in Across The Universe would do equally as well. Easier on the kidneys than ibuprophan. too.

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#5 [url]

Aug 31 09 11:30 AM

LOL. Well put. I wouldn't disagree with any of that. I suggest, however, that's it's a tough spot to be in to finally get one's turn at the wheel after the car is totaled. Economics is the biggest part of the "political" control front with money buying influence and in return affluence and in return, influence, and those 40 or under are by and large broke and have very little prospects of changing that state of affairs. Those in control are going to stay there until they croak, or so it looks. And you're right, by and large, Steven, in not overstating the "influence" of much of the baby boom generation, as many of they are broke as well at this point. I think, however, that there may be some rightious condemnation of the wealthest generation of all time in the history of the world, in essence, pissing away the birthright of all mankind. I don't really know how else to put it. The vast quantity of debt aquired, both financial and ecologically that must now be repaid by future generations is bad enough in itself, but the major bummer is, again, that debt was aquired and the capital pissed away on McMansions, RV's, Harleys, and the rest, while bridges collapse, schools resemble prisons, rotten teeth is the single leading cause of missed classroom time in the US, and the economy is busted for lack of real invested infrastructure.

Politics aside, as I really believe the trend will be less of that in the future rather than more-- I'm more interested really in the psychology of society at large, as it's probably the only force that can compete powerwise with greed and money. I'm really interested in how art might well be suggesting that the "fundamental values" or "fundamental lack of values" that our society currently honors may well be shifting. That's probably the place that art speaks to the most. Unfortunately, most of what I see is a vague nihlistic and very petty anger. Even where it attempts sensuality it's pretty superficial. I can't imagine that this can be a "stable" state of affairs and amd sniffing around  trying to see what direction the zeitgiest might be thinking of lurching.

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#6 [url]

Aug 31 09 9:58 PM

Since my name was brought up I might as well chime in...
You seem to be discussing several somewhat related topics at once - art, politics, generational responsibility - to name three.   I'll take the easiest topic first; generational responsibilty.  Forget it. It is hype created by the media.  Sure, there was a population boom after WW II, but if you look at the real movers and shakers of the world we live in today, they were almost to a man (woman) born before or during the war.  The founders of rock are nearly all WW II babies, or older. (Beatles, Chuck Berry, Stones, Little Richard, Elvis, etc.) Same with the most influencial producers and record company owners. Also the most powerful politicians for the most part.  In fact, I've always found it rather surprising how many of the real movers and shakers of our time were born during 40s.  By comparison the baby boomers were followers.  I was born in '51, so I'm a member of that group.  I still remember (in spite of my alcohol-addled and aging brain cells) how the protests against the Viet Nam war were mostly led by older folks, in many cases much older. Older Wobblies, anarchists, beatniks, socialists, commies, and the like were our leaders, but the young hippies took the heat much of the time.
You cannot blame the current world troubles on any one particular generation, in part because the idea itself is mostly a construct made up by the media and advertising to sell product or conveniently categorize people.  My generation would like to brag that it was the one that finally got equal rights (mostly) for women and blacks, but the truth is that these gains were the culmanation of the efforts of many previous generations.  Likewise no one generation bears responsibility for climate change, economic problems, food shortages, and the like.  It is true some particular groups are more responsible than others, but those groups (the super-wealthy, the religious, fools, knaves, over-breeders, etc. ad nauseum...), but it serves no purpose and is not defensible logically to blame the boomers or any other age group.  All age group divisions are artificial constructs in the same way decades are. 
This seems to be getting awy from the topic of art a bit - but hey, you guys started it!devil

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#7 [url]

Aug 31 09 10:16 PM

Sure. Fair enough. Categorizing is always an artificial construct. As well, intellectually decategorizing is a very effective strategy to evade blame. It's very likely that blame doesn't matter, but very likely blame will be placed.

It hardly matters at this point, really. I'm sure the judgment of those alive today including myself will be somewhere between our dear Adolf and Pol Pot. We are the people responsible for the negligent destruction of the planet. I can't think of a historic instance where broad scale malignant destruction of one's children actually occurred, but maybe I missed it. We will be held accountable. To think, of the generation that Mike speaks of, that young guys would sign up to fight fascists in a country they didn't know just for the the ideology of it, and they did, damn it. Maybe it's my Basque genes talking(Gaelic and basque? No wonder I'm a hardcase.) but at some point you've got to nut up, right? Well, no one is nutting up too much. For myself, compelled to, my rational side says--forget it. Pointless. Fate.

By the way, Mike, listened to a bit of SDL and though the tone was, well, "confident and mature." Which is a hell of a complement really, from me, I guess.

May I suggest that "inevitability" may be the zeitgeist? For Whom The Bell Tolls?

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#9 [url]

Aug 31 09 10:48 PM

Back to the original topic: prescience and art.  We all know how wrong science fiction has been about the future.  Nobody is even going to the moon, let alone the other planets, and folks aren't flying around in their own personal jets by and large. That, of course, is not the type of specific future forecasting we are claiming.  Mankind has always placed a premium of accurate future prediction.  We have survived as a species by accurately foretelling were the good roots will be growing next spring, or where the game will be, or if the season is right for sowing. So when art does accurately predict something, or we think it does, we see that as important.  However, science generally is a better tool for precicting the future, while art best serves us in other ways.  This is where folks get confused about religion too.  Many people hope to forecast the future using Revelations or Nostradomos and so forth.  Look hard enough and long enough and yes you will find patterns and predictions that seem to materialize, but no more frequently than in science fiction.  
How can music or the painted canvas be prescient?  I suppose in those discussions with Jay I was trying to get at the way art can anticipate a future mood or Zeitgeist. Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, or  Picasso's paintings.  The best popular music too. Are The Flaming Lips recent works about sentient machines (a continuation of a topic that has occupied science fiction writers and movie makers for decades) anticipating some future day when A.I. is a reality?  
But the real value of art is not in this ocassional precience, which is really just an interesting side effect of the activity. The essential  purpose of Art is wrapped up in our very DNA, and is no more or less profound and essential than the songs of birds or the ritual displays and mating dances of other species.  What a subject!
I am in general agreement with Campbell that the arts preceeded religion and arose from the same impulses and at the same time as myth and ritual. Acting out, stylized movement, scarification, cave painting, petroglyphs.  Beyond that, I see religion as a perversion of that impulse, and agree with Campbell that art is supplanting religion and indeed must if man is to survive.  I use Art in it's most catholic or universal sense, of course.

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#10 [url]

Aug 31 09 10:56 PM

Exactly.  No one generation is at fault.  Mostly mankind was just stupid for not paying attention to Malthus!  We could consume all we wanted if we kept world population at a billion or less.  Well maybe, if we could manage to keep from cutting all the forests down.   Certainly with half a billion we wouldn't worry too much about individual consumption.  Gaia will solve that population problem for us eventually, if a passing meteorite doesn't first.
But this is really getting off topic!

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#11 [url]

Sep 1 09 6:14 PM

This one's pretty ahead of the curve, I'd suggest.

I'd still also suggest, all in all, whether blame is due or not--I personally believe it is indeed due and for important reasons necessary, mostly to acknowledge the personal responsibility it will require to have any hope for progress--I can easily agree it's more or less a moot point. What isn't a moot point is that there's a hell of a lot of people who are going to feel very dispossessed and whether one agrees with the validity of their position or accusations or whathaveyou--I'm sure that blame is going to be laid at someones feet. And as is near always the case, in an ill-considered and brutal manner, likely.

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#12 [url]

Sep 1 09 7:45 PM

Jay, is your last posting part of a private conversation and I'm barging in, or am I just the only one not afraid to ask, but for what is the "blame" you're talking about?  If it's dead kennedies then is it assassinations, the sound of the band, or the band's song California and I'm supposed to google the lyrics to know what it says?

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#13 [url]

Sep 1 09 8:12 PM

Jay and all:

As I recall, the original conversations revolved around the value of a specific type of art - the novel.   Specifically, we were talking about "Jude The Obscure" by Hardy.  I admitted then (and still do) that it is an extremely depressing novel, but I maintained (and still do) it was an important work and had some sort of value.  I think you disagreed.  I may have said the novel was in some ways prescient, anticipating some of the disconnect and futility the Post World War I era yet to come.  Certainly the next generation of in the early part of the 20th century novelists were hugely influenced by Hardy.

What I may have failed to convey (we were drinking a bit as I recall!) is the prescient part is not the most important part of what the novel does.  The novel is, after all, a pretty recent invention. (Hence, novel)  There are some sort of novelistic works by Greek and Roman writers, but the true novel didn't really come about until the printing press and movable type were invented.  Before that it was either religious works, oral story telling, theatre, or rehashing the dominant myths.  The Iliad and Odyssey aren't novels.  What remains of Satyricon is close but not quite there. So it is a pretty new form of art - certainly not as new as rock & roll or rap, but newer than painting, dance, or music in general.  In fact, I marvel that theatre is so much older than the novel.  It sometimes seems odd to me that the Greeks wrote these elaborate plays, but never invented the novel.  But I digress...

My digression itself shows the value of this type of associational mental activity. The narrative line which we experience while reading a good novel is unlike any other sort of communication, but perhaps the closest thing to the waking narrative line we experience as "self", or our continuity of being.  I feel in some ways I know Conrad, John Crowley, and Nabokov better than any of my friends or family.  To know a fellow sentient being that profoundly is in itself justification for any number of novels, and the art form itself - and that is only one of the reasons I could list for the value of the novel!

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#14 [url]

Sep 5 09 10:47 PM

If you are online at this very moment then check out
for a slight taste of one take on art, community, culture, technology and so on all coming together in the Black Rock Desert. The climax of this year's Burn is about to happen any moment!
[9:45pm Alaska time; 7:45pm Hawaii time, 05SEP2009]

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#15 [url]

Sep 11 09 1:21 AM

Art and philosophy in my simple worldview are the Venn diagram area of overlap found between science (roughly, the measurable within time and space) and spirituality (immeasurables beyond limitations of time and space). Prescient? I dunno, but I am sure art is important both to the individual and to the community. Mark Morford has penned some lucid insights into all this as regards a community of which I am a member, and hope to remain a member even while becoming part of the Big Island community:
The Life Lessons of Burning Man

Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. JA

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#17 [url]

Sep 22 09 8:27 PM

Great video Jay! Frank really kicks Loftin's ass in this one. Frank is right about the steady creep towards Facism in this country.  Of course Frank (RIP) was a rich millionaire himself, but unlike many he actually worked for his money and contributed something to society in the process.   Frank was prescient and now most of the seven prohibited words are common even on T.V. (though as yet not used in Sponge Bob or the like).  One reason such words should not be censored is that every corporate working person needs to be able to convincingly use them when dealing with management!

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#18 [url]

Sep 23 09 10:11 AM

No kidding. Shocking how stupid this issue looks in retrospect, and how pointless all the hassle and testimony before congress and all that really was. What a waste of time. There seems to be little improvement on that score where hubris and top down management is still the order of the day.

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