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War, politics and literature

- an essay in three acts -

Mircea Pricăjan

Publicat Duminică, 24 Septembrie 2006, ora 16:33

      You might wonder what connects the three words from this week’s editorial. Well, the answer can be simple if we want to: life. Or it could be more complex if we want to go deeper than that superficial layer of understanding.

      Let us stick to a balanced take on this subject. Moderation is the virtue of champions.

      Not only once I have meditated upon the intrinsic relation between life and art, between day-by-day events and their reflection cast on the field of art. I have even studied some books on the subject. The conclusion – my conclusion – is that art cannot do without current life; it cannot turn its back on the mundane, on the trivial and, at the same time, on the sublime of life. Some have said (and some still say) that art, true art is only that that serves art’s purposes, taking out of the equation the whole concept of life (NOTE: Emphasize is put here on the word ‘whole’!). Well, nothing more dangerous for an artist to think! Life – in all its manifestations and even in all its ugliness – is perhaps the only source of inspiration and the only target for art. The idea of catharsis we’ve discussed last week cannot stand without a solid life support. Yes, you have to put a distance between your intellect and the material surrounding world, thus reaching the catharsis, but you also have to keep in mind that such a material world exists and that your whole stride is meaningless if you chose to focus only on your person.


      When I wrote ‘war’ in the title I didn’t mean the war from Iraq, as many of you might have thought. I meant war in its broader meaning. Wars have influenced art maybe more than any other human action. Just think of all the great books dealing with this theme. Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” is perhaps the first that comes to mind. (The novels from the Cold War period are next – at least for me: Orwell, Huxley, and Golding, to name only three.) Directly connected with the idea of war is that of revolution. Now, what’s closer to art than a revolution? Art’s whole meaning is revolution. Art is revolutionary in nature! We may say that there were more deaths in literature than in the whole human race existence and we won’t be wrong by much.


      Conclusion to Act One: War is maybe the essence of art; inspired by life and amplified to higher, intellectual levels.

      Politics, now! Do you think that a novel is so strange from politics? Think better! What’s a plot, after all? A plot is a series of events, characterized by – at least – three stages: the beginning normality, the climax and, in the end, the resolution. Compare it with the actions of any historical political party and you’ll see the similarities. All the world’s greatest writers (novelists, to be more specific) were at the same time also the greatest politicians – in what concerns art, of course, but (again the exception) some proved to be able to expand this ability beyond that area of interest.


      Conclusion to Act Two: Art’s nature when expressed takes the form of a political statement.

      I have chosen these two examples (war and politics) for the present essay because I think they express better what everyone understands by ‘life’, modern life. All other things are echoes of these two, they are minor aspects, if you prefer.

      What about love? What about hate? What about─? Aren’t they aspects of life? – some might ask me now. Well, I say that they are the ones responsible for all the mess! The reason I didn’t start with them is because they are too vague and changing aspects to be fully grasped in a couple dozens of lines.

      Nevertheless, my idea is that, in order to foresee future art developments, is enough to analyze the elements springing from those vague and changing things we call feelings. To better understand the art of the future, we all need to understand what’s happening to us at ground level, so to speak. There are no such things as clairvoyants (or maybe there are, but I like to gobble down only what I can define), there are only people keen enough to see a step ahead. It’s all a matter of perceptiveness.


      Conclusion to Act Three: I’m sorry to say that that’s as far as I can go with my analysis. For us, writers, it’s hard to put the finger on the root matter. We only sense it and try to transliterate it on paper, under a masked form, of course. Whether we succeed or not is for the readers (professional or common ones alike) to judge. And if they too are not capable of seeing that, then there’s always the time to tell it. How else could we explain why so many great writers remained undiscovered until late after their deaths?


      All things considered, what’s left to say is that the modern and the future artists (those from the past have, unfortunately, nothing to say anymore in this respect) must keep and open eye on everything around them and stop looking for that illusory Ivory Tower. I think it’s now clear that that Tower is only the symbol for self-imprisonment, for out-of-time escape – the symbol, therefore, for Death.

      Artists of all kinds – please don’t commit suicide!


© Copyright Mircea Pricăjan
Sursa :   Imagikon
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