Monday, December 22, 2014

Walt Whitman - an art to make elections irrelevant

This quote from Greil Marcus on art and politics in his amazing book about rock and roll Mystery Train is beyond brilliant.

Walt Whitman once wrote that he didn't want an art that could decide presidential elections; he wanted an art to make them irrelevant. He was interested in an artist's ability to determine the feel of American experience; to become a part of the instinctive response of the people to events; to affect the costs and the quality of everyday life.

[...] He thought that his work might affect whether his country would grow, and die, and start over again; whether his country would, at the margins of change, maintain a soul and a vitality that could be recognised, loved, and feared more easily than it could be defined.

[...] Whitman thought that limits were undemocratic. As good democrats, we fight it out within the limits of his ambition.

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