Friday, November 4, 2016

Art, Politics, Publicity, and Silence

Those of us who follow politics are aware that Tony Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist and fundraiser who also happens to be extremely wealthy (how could that have happened?) is also a major collector of contemporary art. Or “art,” as it should be styled.

Those of us who follow art are aware that the criteria for art have changed substantially over the years. At present, the chief desiderata are shock, ugliness, disgust, and sloppiness; anything that requires talent, is beautiful, or is pleasant to gaze upon is disqualified from all the best museums — and, of course, from the Podesta collection. In short, the art world is a playground for three-year-olds who somehow have grown adult-sized bodies.

So it is not surprising that the Podestas number among their friends one Marina Abramović, who is probably the most famous and well-regarded performance artist (“artist”) in the world today.

Tony Podesta is, of course, the brother of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. So, today, thanks to Wikileaks, we can witness the collision of the elite of the art world, who intentionally disdain and contemn the taste of everyone else, and the elite of the political world, who also disdain and contemn the common ruck — but while simultaneously attempting to win their votes. A challenge at the best of times, naturally … but even more so today, as Hillary Clinton regularly displays her overwhelming hatred for everyone who dares disagree with her in any way, however slight. One would ordinarily think this a deplorable failing in a politician, but these are not ordinary times. And, besides, the same approach worked (and still works) for Obama.

Abramović is a devotee of the Satanist Aleister Crowley, who, during his lifetime (1875–1947) was dubbed (not without reason) “the wickedest man in the world” and was one of the founders of what, today, is known as Wicca. She practices one of Crowley's made-up rites, “Spirit Cooking” — the disgusting details of which we will gloss over here, involving, as they do, bodily secretions and excretions of every sort — which fits in amazingly well with today’s contemporary art. So she invited Tony and John over for a Spirit Cooking dinner.

A (mostly safe) example of one of Abramović’s recipes can be found in an issue of Vogue which predates the Wikileaks revelation. More explicit (and less safe) images are now all over the place for anyone who wishes to look.

It is pretty clear that no politician who wants the votes of the majority of the American voting public would ever want to be associated in any way, or want any member of her staff to be so associated, with such a ceremony.

What is more interesting to me at the moment is the press coverage of this infamous dinner. It is absolutely certain that, were Trump (or any other Republican) to have engaged — or even been invited to — such a rite, the details would be on the front pages of every newspaper in the world. Since the Podestas are Democrats, the Clintonian omertà is in full force among the mainstream media, and even (for now) among the more respectable right-wing outlets, like National Review and the Weekly Standard. But the Drudge Report and the National Enquirer are, naturally, all over it, just as they were the only outlets to cover John Edwards’s deplorable (that word again) treatment of his wife while she was dying — without which, that cheating shyster could well have ended up President.

Needless to say, should Clinton win the election and manage to overturn Citizens United, anyone who dares publicize anything derogatory about Herself or any of Her minions would find himself in a Federal prison almost instantly. (Cf. Mark Basseley Youssef, the only person ever imprisoned for using an alias on the internet, for an educational example.)

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