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Contemporary Art and Politics: Poets Talk

By       Message Gary Corseri       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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POETS' TALK: Linh Dinh, Jackson Browne, Betty Davis, et. al.

What's worth holding onto in a world of accelerating change?

By Gary Corseri and Charles Orloski

"They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars"

--Jackson Browne, "Lives In The Balance"

"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil." -- Albert Einstein

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"Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society" -- Albert Einstein

Note: E-friend Thomas Lotts sent me the above quotes by Einstein and Jackson Browne, and the link to Browne's splendid song, "Lives in the Balance"" and it struck me that some of the best information and inspiration that I receive and probably pass on these days comes in those energy-packets known as e-mails.

Used to be, in slower-paced days, more contemplative types would read the correspondence of great men--unfortunately, there was much less available from great women then--to gain essential, personal insights into the passing parade, the Zeitgeist. In my late teens and early 20s, I learned much of the little I know about the mysteries of love and poetry from the poignant and brilliant correspondence of prematurely doomed John Keats--letters addressed to his friends and to his amour, Fanny Brawne. Later, the correspondence between Adams and Jefferson honed my thinking about the business of politics: what methodologies of compromise do not deprecate ultimate values and ideals.

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Some of humankind's greatest teachers--Socrates, Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad--employed the dialogic technique to sharpen their own thoughts and the logical skills of others. Yet, while we can gain insights into character and vision from the Lincoln-Douglas, Kennedy-Nixon, Obama-Romney debates, much is lost in the hastening pace of response and counter-response--and those we turn to for clarity and leadership strut about the stage more like spot-lighted prize-fighters garnering points with judges than ratiocinative guides who warrant more considered attention.

E-mail exchanges between equally matched and striving intellects open the possibility of a different kind of criticism of social, political and cultural events. Like time-lapsed photographs there is enough space between thought, reflection and response to appreciate the nuances of the moment even in the midst of cascading change.

Friend and poet Charles Orloski shared his thoughts on our cultural-political milieu in the following, recent, spontaneous and considered exchange:

To Charles Orloski: An e-friend sent me this article by the very estimable Linh Dinh [link below] ... and the music-video of Jackson Browne's song [link above]. I hadn't heard Browne's song before. In an age of cardboard youth idols like Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga... it's great to recall what real art is all about! Here's an excerpt from Dinh's piece [he alludes, of course, to John Lennon and the way his ideals have been despoiled!], and a link--

"Imperial and colonial ambitions have often assumed a transnationalist mask. "The US has often cited "The Free World" to justify war on another country, with Libya and Syria the latest examples. Beware, then, of the supranationalist's pitch of mutual peace, security and prosperity, for it often hides an evil reality. "Imagine no countries,' he'll sing, "and the world will be as one,' before hushing to murmur the refrain, "Imagine no possessions.' " Imagine."

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To Gary Corseri: Saw the Linh Dinh article on DissidentVoice and CounterPunch. Writing is excellent. " Vietnamese, he's seen so much, "been there" (face-to-face) with Imperialism! Such experience earns my respect.

To CO: I agree! Dinh is one of my favorite younger writers--i.e., younger than me!

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Gary Corseri has published & posted his work at hundreds of venues worldwide, including Op Ed News, The New York Times, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, DissidentVoice, L.A. (and Hollywood--) Progressive. He has been a professor in the US & Japan, has (more...)

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