To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed. You could line up all the pols in the U.S. in a straight row and examine them head to toe and not find a single man or woman capable of admitting, never mind ending, the corruption of their vocation--Buddy Dooley

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Trusting Chance

Like Dylan, Waits seldom sings a song the same way twice.  His ability to alter his phrasing according to the temporal demands of a particular performance, imbued by risk and a constant search for varied and more meaningful expression, is key to understanding his artistry.

This is perhaps the essence of poetic achievement, the original voice unwilling to settle for the limitations of expected experience.

Put another way, chance trumps conformity in every aspect of a Dylan or Waits performance--and so, in a leap of intuition, we understand the performer is best served by rebelling against expectation and conformity.

The true artist is first and foremost a rebel, in other words.  If he is not at the bottom of his soul an anarchist, he has sworn himself to his limitations rather than his potential.

The irony of this is that the true artist is compelled to seek out and enhance a truer democracy than an artist who pays lip service to the ideal by pandering to his audience.

The greatest artists are rebels because they do the work that most of us--inhibited by fear and/or stunted imaginations--cannot do.

Dylan and Waits, two of our best contemporary artists, passed this test, which is why we admire them--or dislike them if unable to trust their particular artistic values.


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