Monday, January 16, 2012


You think you are safely rooted in
corporate greed,
the thin veneer of class-conscious complacency,
in technological innovation;
sadly, all technology is primitive
when compared with what mind,
in cooperation with heart,
can envision and accomplish
—you have not been set free
by your mastery of machines,
but are instead enslaved
to a system that
neither honors the dignity of life,
nor is concerned with its preservation,
and that believes culture to be a waste of time.

But, verily I say,
you will be taken unawares,
you will be overpowered;
you have no choice:
this is war.
Surrender is the only option;
your thoughts will no longer be your own
—your blood and your being shall belong to another;
pinch your mean pennies, I dare you!
—this beast cannot be starved.

You will slowly be deprived
of indifference and hate,
of the necessity for isolated thought;
you will be grafted to the tree of integrity
whether you like it or not
—this is a matter of life and death,
and love.

When money is short,
it gets even worse, this conflict;
you blithely think,
I don’t need that,
and you hold back.

The operatives in this war defy gravity and the law;
they are guerrillas and thugs,
and they run the oldest black market in the world;
they are embedded everywhere,
these merciless mercenaries,
these freelancing villains,
and you cannot out-think them
—this is a syndicate with no bosses.

They assault you with color,
or cunning, dance-like motions;
they draw you when you are vulnerable,
or they tattoo your flesh;
they yammer sublime verse at you
or they capture you in clay;
they snap images of you and, worse, nature
or make a harmonic racket to compete
with your own noises
—at any rate (and all),
they substitute your emotions
for theirs,
wearing you down,
day after day,
until you turn to their side
—the side of beauty and light—
and then it is all over,
and they have won.

Damn these fiends called Artists!

© 2012 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen

More and more, we are seeing that economic slowdown called “The Great Recession” have a negative impact on the arts. When churches decide to layoff their musicians and opera companies and symphony associations lock out their unionized musicians, it can only mean that tomorrow the lights will be dimming on Broadway. And from there, it trickles down to all the small arts organizations who are on the bubble of making it for one more year or folding. I know of a number of such organizations.

People think, oh, I don’t need to support art—someone else will. This is the big lie. It is the biggest lie ever perpetrated. Culture is the work of the people, and if the people won’t support it the way it should be supported, art and artists will inveigle their way to, if not a livelihood, at least the satisfaction of invading your life with their art.

History shows us the palpable work of artists. We can see and sometimes even touch or hear what the artist left behind. Culture and history have passed through artists’ hands, not the hands of the patrons whose image and ego demanded excess—their involvement is frequently distanced from the passion of the actual work. We can read about the patrons and appreciate that they invested, but it is the art that we can know and have a relationship with. Which is more important, of more value? I think you know the answer to that. It is a marvel that vast amounts of money have been spent, in all times and places on the earth, to produce art, but the art produced is more marvelous still.

Ultimately, this has been true forever. 

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