Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Prestigious Reading -- NaPoWriMo Story

[Note: I wrote this short story in the midst of writing poems for NaPoWriMo. Nothing annoys me more than the willful obscurity of elitist “artistes” such as the academic poet. This kind of artist really exists only to make culture-free billionaires feel "in", precisely because their art is unintelligible to us puny humans. Satire accordingly follows below.]

They are gathered here in the Temple of Art, the assembled Lords of Capital, to listen to the Bardic Elite read their works. None here care a thing for the pleasures of body, heart, mind, or soul. Modern Art exists for the ego alone. What they seek is Prestige.

For the professors, Prestige means Tenure, sponsored by the new race of aristocratic patrons whose representatives wait breathlessly for them to speak. For the executives, Prestige means Reputation among their kind, raising them in their own minds at least to the level of the merchant princes who made the Renaissance. A common conviction unites them: that Modern Art shall raise Artist and Patron alike above the people.

The first poet strides up to the podium. The projector lights up the wall behind him; the exalted audience must see what they are hearing to make sure what they hear is True Art not plebeian doggerel. Not verse but abstract words abstractly arranged like a bomb-blasted PowerPoint presentation (haven’t heard of Paul Blackburn? you philistine) assures the executive illuminati before him. They disagree as to whether the style he reads his poem is like a rabid gorilla or a psychotic robot. They sigh in contentment that, like Capitalism itself, Modern Art continues to dissolve everything solid into air (haven’t heard of Irving Fisher? you peasant). He finishes. They applaud. He smugly smiles: among the oligarchic audience, he shall find his Patron.

No, from these poets you won’t hear the feigned concern for the oppressed women and colored people all too common in the academic presses. To these men it reeks of Communism: let them spew their rot among the rabble. Here the true purpose of Modern Art is known: to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. The Bardic Elite speak only of Higher Things, that which cannot be spoken by human tongues, that which the Lords of Capital are taught by their gurus and the Ascended Masters they channel. To them the Great Chain of Being still stands unbroken; to them hierarchy is still the abstract essence of Nature.

Poet after poet speaks the unspeakable, deconstructed into glossolalia, exciting executive egos and raising them into gods. The air here in the Temple of Art is hushed like the atmosphere of a sacred temple before the holy golden image of the god. The god hovering over this ritual has no image, though painted and sculpted icons of the ineffable surround them; yet his blood runs freely in checkbooks, credit cards, and bank accounts: he is the god of this world, and the Lords of Capital are his chosen race, beyond good and evil (haven’t heard of Friedrich Nietzsche? you plebeian).

The ritual ends. The contracts are signed. The Bards find their Patrons; the Patrons find their Bards: all united by the smug sense of occult conspiracy against the unenlightened masses. The poets are pleased; the executives are pleased; the god they serve is pleased: they shall be rewarded with Profit and Prestige.

Meanwhile, many social layers below, heedless of the dance of egos among elites in the exclusivist Temple of Art, people with two and three jobs create their art, not to social-climb, but because they must.

Copyright © 2014 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
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