Re: Hi-Low, or Art for Money (Was) Steven King's The Plant

Date: Tue Jul 25 2000 - 00:53:50 MDT

Lee Daniel Crocker writes:

> Shakespeare'(snip)wasn't afraid to go for the cheap laugh of a dirty
> > joke or a pun where needed, and his brilliant use of language
> > and poetic form wasn't to challenge his audience's mind, but
> > simply to entertain them.

Incorrect take on Shakespeare, yet at the same time, I agree 100% with you in
principle in your intent. Why Incorrect? One: I think Shakespeare's work was
an ongoing, work-in-progress, group improvisational effort, not one man who
wrote scripts. It survives today as an amalgamation of ideas of many
brilliant minds, distilled if you will, into scripts. Two: I think it did
challenge a portion of the audiences mind, to the highest intent, while at
the same time lowering it's sights to amuse the most tiresome of dolts with
fart jokes and delightfully bad puns. So: The people who paid a farthing and
had no education saw a completely different play from the two penny royalty,
who knew the political innuendo and tongue in cheek philosophical wordplay.
This multilevel inventiveness - where people of all levels are indulged - to
the extent that they will pay - is, indeed, the most brilliant type of art,
though I'd shy away from terms like "high and low" since Shakespeare was
both. As are many of today's pop art forms, such as film, pop art,
commercials and music.

To be more blunt about it, I think that "really good art" often evolves out
of financial need, and you are correct: to reach people, if that is your
goal, makes your art far more interesting, multileveled and vibrant. You are
often forced to refine your talents and get better and better at what you do
to survive. But also you run the risk of lowering your standard to meet the
taste of dolts. This is more common IMO than the example of Shakespeare. If
you don't believe me, go turn on the radio and see what I mean.

>>He juggled the language like a
> > street performer juggles torches, as deftly and for the same
> > purpose. /That/ is the highest form of art.

There's a difference between financial success based on quality and self
propelling sales.

You know, Steven King used to write page turners, real oddball stuff, but he
reached a plateau - and lately he has been putting the same old shit in every
book. The same stupid fat retired cop, fat religious ladies in stretch pants,
slobbering preadolescent kids, a cowboy hotshot, a slutty teen girl and old
hippy guy appear in every single novel or novella. I am sure Shakespeare also
did crap, it just didn't survive until today.

IMO, today's market can endure a lot more crap, as long as it's packaged
MacStevenKing burgers would sell great, I bet, if you put a couple action
figures of N'Sync with the Happy Crappy Scary McMeal. Byte on that. writes:

> Unfortunately art truly -is- nebulous... not because of some sort of hocus
> pocus, but due to the simple fact that it is necessarily subjective.

Sigh.. yes, to the extent that we cannot all agree on taste, yet as we have
pointed out time and time again, there are standards, and those standards can
be measured.
Just you or I liking something doesn't make it "good" any more than me saying
I am rich makes me so.

> term 'art' is often and variously described as an appeal to aesthetics, a
> reflection or mutation of nature, or a work of the imagination designed to
> affect the sense of beauty.
> Challenging or appealing to one's sense of aesthetics is a far cry from
> simple entertainment.

Yes, but it takes education, refinement and a desire to learn those
standards; not everyone will take the time to do so. In our constantly
changing world view, we are drawn back time and time again to older, more
conservative art forms which do not really challenge us as much as they used
to. We really need to explore cultural output in context. I agree with you
that it is a good thing that not all art stems from financial need (or greed)
because experiments and risk are so integral to growth in creative fields.
Progressive art rarely has financial success at first, and large project
often fail. Take the example of rock bands who bring orchestras on tour with
them and go broke. Then they end up suing Napster ;o)

I agree with both ends of the spectrum.

Unfortunately, I have to make my living as an artist, so I aspire to the
former, since no one has left me a trust fund, and I have no counts or
countesses or rich banker patrons to allow me luxury of creation for
creations sake. It gotta sell, so it gotta be pop. And I make crap too, along
wth the good art, just becasue I make lots of it, and someday maybe, like
Steven King, people will buy even my crappy art.


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