The Arts, capital A, are dead.
The weekend started badly late last night when I got on Twitter and saw the news that Jason Robert Brown’s The Bridges of Madison County was closing on Broadway May 18. I find this incredibly disturbing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that after the success of its live broadcast of The Sound of Music, NBC has announced another “live musical broadcast”, this time, another Mary Martin vehicle, Peter Pan. Not to be outdone, and not to risk being anywhere near as tasteful, FOX has announced plans for a live production of Grease. Now, far be it from me to cavil and complain about this trend — at least musicals are being done and anything that brought singing Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti to television, good thing — but why can’t one of the twelve kabillio-jillion networks produce versions of NEW MUSICALS? Maybe, just maybe, if the networks were made to take seriously their charge to use the airwaves for some service, some good, rather than everything in the entire fucking world being about how one can monetize and maximize profits, we’d live in a world where things that can’t be reduced to a slogan on a T-shirt that can catch the eye on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, would thrive. Or, at least, exist. That the two most considered, constructed, beautifully scored, sung and performed musicals of the year, Andrew Lippa’s Big Fish and Jason Robert Brown’s The Bridges of Madison County , closed after such short runs is a tragic and sorry commentary — NOT on the state of musical theatre, but, rather, on the lack of educated audience enough existing to support such non-blockbuster, insightful, moving works of Art. Yes, ART. LISTEN:
Stories told with such glorious music, must MUST exist. I can’t imagine a world in which all we have to pass on to the next generation are songs like those from Grease and Disney musicals — NOT that those don’t have a place, they DO, but they CANNOT be the only place. CALLING MR WILLIAMS!
And as if that weren’t enough to ruin my weekend, an article by Will Self in The Guardian called The Novel is Dead (this time it’s for real) [CLICK HERE TO READ] is all over the place, being Tweeted and copied and posted and generally showing up everywhere to beat me about the head and heart with its pronouncement of the death of literary fiction and Art — YES DAMMIT, CAPITAL A — in general. Oh lord. Listen to Mr. Self:
The literary novel as an art work and a narrative art form central to our culture is indeed dying before our eyes. Let me refine my terms: I do not mean narrative prose fiction tout court is dying – the kidult boywizardsroman and the soft sadomasochistic porn fantasy are clearly in rude good health. And nor do I mean that serious novels will either cease to be written or read. But what is already no longer the case is the situation that obtained when I was a young man. In the early 1980s, and I would argue throughout the second half of the last century, the literary novel was perceived to be the prince of art forms, the cultural capstone and the apogee of creative endeavour. The capability words have when arranged sequentially to both mimic the free flow of human thought and investigate the physical expressions and interactions of thinking subjects; the way they may be shaped into a believable simulacrum of either the commonsensical world, or any number of invented ones; and the capability of the extended prose form itself, which, unlike any other art form, is able to enact self-analysis, to describe other aesthetic modes and even mimic them. All this led to a general acknowledgment: the novel was the true Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk.
Now, first of all, you don’t get writing like that every day — AND THAT’S MY FUCKING POINT! I sent it to a few people — his link — and one replied that his sentences were too complex to really read right now. OH HOLY MOTHER OF GUTENBERG. That reply told me all I needed to know about the death of intellect. I mean, honestly?
I, myself, pander to the lowest common denominator by peppering my posts with “fucks” and including naked men. I NEVER get more hits than when I am tagged “big dick” — and not in the way it has been used throughout my life to refer to me, which, I assure you, has NOTHING to do with the size of my genitalia, but, rather, the length of my curmudgeonly attitude. I know those hits mean NOTHING, that those who hit on me because of my “big dick” are not reading me, don’t get me, know nothing about me, but STILL — I, too, have fallen for the zeitgeistian measure of what makes me matter.
I MUST BE A BIG BLOGGER. I was assured it was my SOLE path to being published. But, I write literary fiction. So, even if I managed to get published – WHO THE FUCK WOULD READ MY BIG DICKED PROSE? (Search that, baby.)
But, when it reigns — and by “IT” I mean cultural illiteracy, it pours. New York Magazine posted an item about the rumored (and, it seems, still to happen) Amtrak residencies for writers [CLICK HERE TO READ] with this sentence near its opening:
The Amtrak Writers’ Residency was a comic marketing proposition from the start — one ancillary, antiquated business (rail service) teaming up with another (books) full of people so needful of acknowledgment and peace of mind that they’d consider a week in a four-by-seven sleeper room a “residency.”
A sentence managing to announce the desperate state of literature as Art form while also heralding the death of train travel. Oh please. Please. KILL ME. Or, don’t, because apparently now after killing someone, you sue their family for relief from the pain and suffering killing them caused YOU! Yes, a woman is suing the family of a boy she fatally struck with her SUV while speeding. No shit. Read it here at VICE.COM
Talk about your big dick. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
I canNOT. Just CAN NOT. And this whole “the owner of the Clippers is a racist” — uhm, yeah. Well, how is this a surprise? And the fact that a sports team is worth a billion dollars, and that college sports tournaments sell more tickets at higher prices than a Broadway musical, that JUST IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS a high school athlete can call someone a “faggot” and harass and abuse and NOT get called on it so he WON’T LOSE HIS SCHOLARSHIP — I mean, the world is a mess. THE WORLD IS A MESS AND I CAN JUST BARELY LEAVE MY ROOM.
In fact, I am going away. I am house/pet sitting beginning tomorrow (after seeing Megan Hilty tonight, yes, that’s right — CAPITAL A, ART!) and I will not be back until Tuesday and I am taking with me only my books. I may not even shower. Definitely not shaving. Just holing up, cuddling with dogs, turning off the BIG DICK-ed whole entire FUCKING world. (Hit that) And here are the pics for those of you who only came here for … you know …