The Twitter editor of Empty Mirror, an online weekly literary journal, tweeted this on February 5, 2018: “Cleaned a bunch of the political stuff out of my feeds and I feel so much better.”
And that was that. Contemporary literature died. The people who came to read about the dead Beat poets, or dead Henry Miller, or perhaps dead political screamer George Orwell, found a zone free of annoying, present-day political matters, such as nuclear proliferation, Syrian refugees, or the coming environmental catastrophe that even the dinosaurs wouldn’t get the chills to witness imaginatively. The editor freed his or her feed from U.S. politics that, since WWII, have ballooned, by the breath of a mighty superpower, to lord over all life on earth and atmosphere.
Hurray. At Empty Mirror we can adorn our meditative consciousness with the fineries of life brought to us by writers of the past. Or, at times, click into some present day, university graduate’s careful art to keep our precious, unearned joys leagues away from dirty politics.
Here is what I say: There is no literature or art without politics and philosophy. Everything good that came before (in modern times) has been provided by super sensitive people reacting to the political environment of their day.
Writers and painters today have a slick, state of the “art” smartphone and a two-year contract with a corrupt and very political corporation.
Unart comes from comfort. Ask any artist alive today, if you are able to find one on or offline.
Those who do not want their minds sullied can clean their Twitter feeds or react like Barbara Bush when asked about her son’s philosophy of having other people’s children’s legs blown off by Empty Mirror’s tax contribution to American politics:
“Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
Perhaps the editor of Empty Mirror, who no doubt is a kind and sensitive person, views art and artist how another editor of a garage press reacted to my efforts on what turned out to be the last time I tried to get an unartist to recognize a work of art.
From Just Another Stuckist in Oswego:
I have theories about this starving artist dilemma. Many spring from the field of social psychology. Here is one:
None of us are any good until many of us say that some of us are.
Each failed writer or painter needs, more than talent, a promoter with Biblical outreach. If Beyoncé (accent on the e) wore the teeth image (painting above) to don her Super Bowl outfit, I would be rich and known richly by morning. Target® would call for a wall hanging product line, and the New York Times would best seller me. If Oprah got caught reading less trite and inane crap, maybe some of you talented writers could afford rent as well as dinner, and miraculously the Media-CIA Industrial Complex would suffer sinking ratings of its perpetually popular “Let’s Dumb Down America Now!”.
All fine literature, music, and art is relegated to obscurity if not considered salable by a connected media entity. Here is a rejection from a book publisher I received a couple weeks ago, followed by a quote from Henry Miller who wrote meaningful desk chair philosophy at a time when art was the artist, and not bullhorn announcements from high-rise promoters about the “state of the art money”.
You do seem passionate and, as you wrote, “determined,” so I’m sure this won’t stop you at all from continuing your search for a publisher. I would like to suggest you consider self-publishing this manuscript. Just from reading the first sample parts you sent me I can tell you it’s going to be a very difficult sell to any indie press. Forget about even going to the majors via a literary agent. It occupies too much head space, in my opinion, and while that’s not a bad thing at all for some readers who enjoy that sort of thing, commercially this would be extremely difficult to convince anyone to spend any money on reading your words. Even if you have some clout due to your painting, it is pretty thick stuff to get into and stay into. I don’t mean this to sound mean at all. I just feel that this is the kind of book that may have a life as a self-published work. Save yourself the time and trouble of querying anyone else and publish it yourself, then I would suggest perhaps focus more on the marketing end of the book rather than getting one of us snobby publishers to approve it lol. I hope you’ll agree.
A nice, honest rejection. I agree with him. I prefer to self-publish. But to make me a marketer of my own work is like asking a corn farmer to peddle boil-in-a-bag on the street corner. Doomed to failure before the manure is spread.
Thank you for a fast response and helpful criticism. Self publishing is the right way to go. Whitman peddled “Leaves of Grass” door-to-door, and look where that got him! No one then (or today) would publish Whitman’s work to make a living, yet countless entities do exactly that today. For me, it has become some personal badge of honor to be an unread writer in the 21st century. Like threshing wheat over a storm water grate. Very nothing, and yet some thing very good too.
Just doesn’t pay the bills.
Here is Henry Miller:
Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they? They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out. Or, perhaps like Socrates, I would walk into the market place and spill my seed on the ground. I would certainly never think to write a book or paint a picture or compose a piece of music. For whom? Who beside a handful of desperate souls can recognize a work of art? What can you do with yourself if your life is dedicated to beauty? Do you want to face the prospect of spending the rest of your life in a straight-jacket?
I suggest all writers to read Miller, as Miller wanted to be read. Read me first. He’d dead. And I could use an art-paid-for loaf of bread.
Empty Mirror should understand this age old dilemma if it wishes to represent the greats of modern literature. Allen Ginsberg was not apolitical. He was politically agitated, turning his private anger into digestible, public art. Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, any literary celebrity of the past whom we prop up today was, while living, a rabid politico or shoot-from-the-hip philosopher.
I believe the editor of Empty Mirror is probably sick of the political gossip he/she sees and hears, rather than politics as they pertain to the present and future machinations of the human race. The former is a game played online by bored and unfulfilled human beings—a kind of collective in-group solitaire to stave off the agony of emptiness which fills up in those people who are unable to express or seek art and literature to comfort them in difficult times.
However, I hope Empty Mirror can see that it wouldn’t have a platform to stand on if it were not for politics of the past which goaded so many artists to react to a world gone wrong, in their time. Reaction to the insanity of world wars, nuclear weapons, the devil in capitalism, religion’s vice-grip, ignorance and fear of the masses, etc., were not deletable on the intellectual browsers for most of the 20th century.
It’s good to kill the gossip, but don’t ever lose the politics. So many people suffered angling you, dear Empty Mirror Twitter editor, toward an easier life. If you want to understand art and artist, never become a Barbara Bush, who just closes the door to the ugly which we all are until the time when we are not.
Enter the reactionary writer and artist of today who would become known tomorrow if editors and gallerists were less apolitical gatekeepers, and more sensitive to the needs of those who express the culture freely.
Welcome the politics, Empty Mirror Twitter editor, yet seek the artist who can turn the lack of generational courage into a work of art.
¡Viva el politics in art!