The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1456 Monday, 7 August 2000.
Date: Monday, 31 Jul 2000 15:08:14 +1000
Subject: Art and Ideology
Please forgive me, Mike, for coming in late on your question, but I've
been away on author tour and have only recently got back, feeling
utterly exhausted. Not a deal of difference any more between writers and
performers, these days--I can sympathise with Shakespeare and his
company's punishing schedule these days, after havin had to be 'the'
entertainment for three different lots of school students, every day,
day after day!! To keep their minds on what you're saying--to have them
respond--calls for a certain amount of stamina and braggadoccio! Still,
I enjoy it too, so shouldn't whinge too much.
I guess, being a writer, and not a theoretician, I thought that 'art'
had a fairly obvious meaning. But I will try to define what I meant by
art being the opposite of ideology: ideology claims itself to be
rational, claims to give a kind of mould or form for the world and human
nature; art rarely does. Art is flexible, ambiguous; ideology is rigid
and fixed. Art and ideology can often be found within the same area of
human culture; for example, in Judao-Christian religion, I would say
that the Psalms, and Jesus' parables are art; but the Ten Commandments
and the doctrine of papal infallibility are part of ideology(though
Moses' story is story). It is fair to point out, as Mike did, that art
can sometimes be created to be propaganda--but then, I'm going to be all
artistic and unreasonable and say that then it is not art. Such for
instance are statues of hero tractor drivers and the like. They are
fascinating historical things, but not art. However, there are
instances when something has been consciously created as propaganda, but
has somehow, mysteriously slipped its shackles in the actual creative
process and transcended its original conscious purpose. There is a very
strange thing that happens when you create a piece of art, in whatever
medium it may be: a weird slipping away of the ego, a disappearance into
something else. It's hard to explain, exactly--but every artist has to
learn to trust that strange metamorphosis. It is not a trance or dream
like condition--on the contrary, it can lead to extremely clear
thinking--but it is an altered state. It is Queen Mab's gift (how I
hated Baz Luhrmann's travesty of an interpretation of that speech!)it is
'a wood outside Athens'; and as such it is the opposite of ideology,
which is created in an altogether different place.
Incidentally, Terence Hawkes-if you'll read my Shakespearean-inspired
novels, I'll read your book!
How's that for a challenge?
Author site: http://members.xoom.com/sophiecastel/default.htm