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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Saturday, February 08, 2003


The immaturity of the poetic establishment
J. Bottum, poet and Books & Arts editor of The Weekly Standard, has written a lengthy essay on the "the appalling manners and adolescent partisanship of our antiwar poets," in reference to the campaign by a large group of poets who decided to disrupt Laura Bush's reception and poetry symposium, turning it into a platform for anti-war poetry, resulting in her cancelling it instead. The piece branches off into a discussion of the decline of poetry, poets and their relation to war in general. Instapundit, in response, has a discussion of bad poetry and its relation to tyranny.
As a poet, who is generally annoyed by the blind leftishness of poetry in general, I enjoyed both pieces a lot, especially Bottum's. The entrenched liberal poetic (and artistic) majority is a remarkably frustrating to those few of us who consider ourselves both poets and conservative. I actually wrote an essay on this very subject a while ago, entitled "A Blue-Haired Conservative," which I will share a piece of.
So, where did this odd bohemian politico-subculture, which artists are supposed to live under and conservatives are supposed to abhor, come from?
It came from the French Revolution, mainly. Before that, most artists, poets and artisans did their work at the behest of wealthy rulers and lords, and were paid for their services fairly well. Others, such as Shakespeare, made their living as artist-businessmen, making art both for the masses and for "art's sake," but they all made a living if they wanted to eat. Then, after the French Revolution, rulers were expected to be much more austere and far less decadent. That meant, unfortunately for artists, that their main source of income had dried up, and many were plunged into poverty.
So, what’s a French artist to do when suddenly plunged into poverty? Declare it ‘hip,’ that’s what! A new culture was slowly created, one that has lasted until this day and has not lost the revolutionary fervor that France had through the years following Napoleon. "Starving artists" are revolutionaries, the conscience of society, the voice of the poor (who they have now joined), and the enemy of all who are wealthy and powerful. It spread through Europe and to America, and was given an immense shot in the arm in the form of the anti-establishment counterculture of the 1960’s.
And in there, somehow, all artists came to fall under two camps—“sellouts” and “true” artists. Or, those who cared about making a living, and those who felt someone else ought to be responsible for that. And this expectation, in turn, propagated even more liberal beliefs about the nature of the state and its purposes, continually winding the “true” artists into a tighter and tighter knot of left wing ideas and assumptions.

I may post the rest of it at some point. Or I may just put it into a book and sell it. It's hard to say. A poet's gotta eat, ya know.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!

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