An Apology (from Letters to a Post-Modernist)

Dear Mr. Post Modernist

Here, in this dark country, this wasteland, we can only hope that art will save us, so we read the reprobate poets and wait.  Assuming, of course, that art has the ability to save us, to transform our politics.  I ask these questions and seek these answers.  Historically, there are models which we can follow.  Now we move through paradoxes where we cannot move.  How can our art transform societal structures which have existed for eons?  And if it can – if art is so powerful – how dangerous can it become?

I owe you an apology.  I have teased you too viscously, mocked you with comfy pillows because history has become a satire of itself, just as I have become only a reflection of my own misery, just as I have tried to satyrize you.  Though I stand in your land of post-modernism, I can claim no allegiance to it.  We are all refugees and exiles and foreigners here within this land.  This post-modernism is our state of being, our nihilism.  Post modernism is sterility, is a state of limbo, of non creation, in-between death and birth, where not even chaos exists.  We would be swallowed by the black hole of non-being and we would cease to be.  You dance around in this land of the undefined and I have tried to squeeze direction from you so that I can find my own direction.

A man speaks to me
as if I could give him love.
I, too, hate the world.

At least we share this.

I am enamoured by the beat poets, the children of Whitman, the children of the land and the body, who are seeking a way forward by seeking a way sideways.  All on a personal journey.  In geopolitical terms though I think Bukowski expresses it succinctly, “Who gives a sacred fuck?” (Whitman’s Wild Children, 1988, pg 27)

But I fear for you, Mr. Post Modernist.  I think your passions might be leading you into debauchery, into elitism and perhaps even into fascism as I read Baudelaire.  Because Rome is burning and Nero is playing your plaintive strings expertly.  That is my fear.

So I leave you, lashed to Nero’s fiddle like Christ on a Crucifix as the monster pulls at your intestines and I ask myself the dangerous question again.  “Does art have the power to transform our lives?”  Last week I wrote a poem about buying a cane and I read it at my writing group, and this week I bought one.  Now I am a Victorian gentleman.  Now I walk softly and carry a big stick.  Lord help us all.


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