art as an antidote to banality



I was thinking this morning how poetry is a bit of an antidote for living in such a bland little corner of the world.  The quote in the pic is by John Donne. I found it here.

Poet Alexis De Veaux recites a poem in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building at this year’s Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C.

Adrienne Rich’s poetic essays help me remember the real world. The world of racism and death of the trapped and helpless. This morning I finished the lovely and disturbing essay she wrote called “The Hermit’s Scream.” (It’s not online but here’s a link to an essay on it in Google Books that gives you an idea if you’re interested).

Sexton reminds me that madness is sometimes the most real thing about being alive. (See “HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME“). Her words trap religion and life and torture it.

Updike’s wry intelligent poems broaden me beyond my local desert where I can find few people who read the books I read.

The arts locally seem to have forgotten or never been informed by art that is honest.

It may be, of course, that I miss the good stuff, the stuff that grabs you and leaves you exhausted and changed. I think this might be why I have been drawn deeper and deeper into what I think is excellent music.

I keep spending time with Prokofiev and Shostakovich at the piano.

I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that they themselves were trapped in a love/hate relationship with the monolithic USSR where the arts were usually subordinated to the weirdness and awfulness of the government.

Prokofiev and Shostakovich somehow transformed this into art.  Sometimes they slyly put their figurative finger in the eye of the “authorities.” At other times they lamely sought approval from the “powers that be.”

It is this doubleness in their nature that appeals to me. Seeking profundity in the face of bland fearful mediocrity.

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Open Proceedings at Guantánamo – NYTimes.com

A small flame of hope in the face of this terrible act of America.

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Citigroup’s Chief Rebuffed on Pay by Shareholders – NYTimes.com

Wow. You don’t read articles like this often these days.

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Fang Lizhi, Chinese Physicist and Dissident, Dies at 76 – NYTimes.com

China’s Andrei Sakharov by Orville Schell  Atlance May 1988

Obit and Atlantic essay about this fascinating dissident.

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