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« Media Surplus redux | Main | Tacit Knowledge -- Genre Writers vs. Literary Writers »

October 30, 2002

Righties, Lefties, Art and Pleasure

Friedrich --

Laurel Panella has been following our discussions about righties, lefties and pleasure from her home in eastern Tennessee. She had these lovely thoughts and observations to pass along:

I live in the middle of the conservative, small town South. (Diverse, within its narrow boundaries.) What I find is that the right defends a positive interpretation of status quo living. They won't be entering any debates on beauty and the arts, except to comment on the changing leaves in the Smokies, or the latest football victory.

The right here is so grounded; they have a strong sense of identity from their deep home and community roots. From my perspective, they honestly need only a drop of novelty. The concept of beauty and pleasure doesn't seem to be an interesting topic of discussion to them. When they do discuss it, they go back to the Renaissance, when art was art, or quote from Southern Living Magazine, with its "gourmet" recipes.

Sometimes I think it's the job of the right to balance out the left. The right doesn't defend cutting edge art, they defend the status quo -- in whatever package it comes. I tend to think this serves a valuable societal purpose. With the left, they’re adventurers, paving the way, so to speak, for the right. The right provides a sense of societal stability that gives the left its courage and footing, to stretch and question boundaries.

I have a lovely group of friends that often debates the ideas you have presented. They of course are all lefties. Personally, I enjoy the challenge of learning from both perspectives without the desire to make one more like the other. The conservative right has so much to offer. But I don't think they'll ever play ball in the world of pleasure and beauty the way some would like.

I tried suggesting that "status quo" pleasures are as legit as cutting-edge pleasures; that football games, changing autumn leaves and "gourmet" recipes represent a perfectly valid aesthetic; that there's no reason to let the left get away with defining art as being necessarily adventurous, or necessarily about questioning boundaries...

But Laurel, who I suspect knows a fancy big-city move when she spots one, was having none of it.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at October 30, 2002




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