Monday, March 26, 2007

The Morning Nightmare

26 March 2007

A correction [to the 23-24 March notes posted 25 March]: Marta Edmisten – whose show, lol, opened Friday night (23 March) at another year in LA – was misspelled/typed into my computer. It’s E-D-M-I-S-T-E-N (not Edmiston). I don’t always proofread these dispatches too thoroughly and I know I should because I certainly can’t type to save my life.

I’m already having a bad morning – and maybe you are, too – if you wake up to NPR news as I do way too often. Have you noticed? It’s become insufferable. The beginning of the end was either the departure of Bob Edwards or the Iraq war – I can’t quite be sure which. Ever since the Bush-Qaeda disaster of Sept. 11, 2001 when the public media honchos decided that ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ coverage of political news and government misdeeds meant giving equal time to both the truth (or a sanitized version of it) and lies (dusted over with quasi-patriotic bromides). Steve Innskeep (ugh – I know I’m making you sick already) is apparently on assignment in Iraq – and the scene is – as well as they try to ‘manage’ or ‘contain’ the picture, the news flow for us – appalling. It’s nauseating beyond belief. The scenes unfold – again and again and again – like a horrifying traffic accident (I guess I have that on my mind, too) where you’re constantly replaying the succession of physical events in your mind, wondering at which point a single action, decision, intervention, correction might have forestalled the disaster about to occur in all its nightmarish (or perhaps, hopefully, not) ferocity, chaos and destruction. There, you think. They should stop right there, pull back right there. No – they can’t go there. Stop. Stop. Now. Oh jesus, now look, listen. Ohmygod no no no no no. I have to go back to sleep right now I can’t sleep I have to ….. It’s become the daily morning nightmare – the nightmare we wake up to even before we look at the front page.

Now multiply that nightmare a million-fold to imagine the on-the-ground reality. This is the nightmare Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, Wolfowitz, et al. have unleashed upon two countries and two civilizations. Who knew their ambition was to make the Al-Qaeda mission a walk in the park?

It’s apparent again as I go over my fair notes how this war and surrounding events have marked on one level or another the art of our time – not necessarily explicitly, sometimes very obliquely, tangentially. And personally I can’t say my taste runs towards protest art – more like, runs away from it. But at what point does every thought, movement, gesture become inflected (I want to say inflicted – afflicted) with the whiplash reverberation of these crimes? At what point do we react to the toxic overload to the body politic? At what point does it change the chemistry – the way we think and behave; and the way the art gets made? I need a few moments in Noah Sheldon’s pink-and-tan room (see Friday's Roberta Smith review). Or maybe just a white room with white noise. I’ll put on the Goldberg Variations (G. Gould) now. I have to try. Try to forgive my poor spelling, proofreading.

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