Art
and
Politics
the history
of a
relationship

by Miles David Moore

Scene4 Magazine -"Art and Poltics" - Miles David Moore - January 2011 www.scene4.com
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January 2011

Throughout human history, there have been two constants: the need to create art, and the need to create history. And just as constant has been the need of those who create the latter to solicit the total and unquestioning support of those who create the former.

The following timeline should demonstrate the symbiotic relationship of art and politics as it has played out through the millennia.

c. 2900 B.C.: Fuad Ramses, poet laureate of Egypt, writes a poem critical of then-Pharaoh Khufu, also known as Cheops. Both poet and poem may be found under the cornerstone of the Great Pyramid.
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Hieroglyphs found inside the Pyramid, describing Ramses' fate, have been the inspiration for later works of art including Saw, Hostel, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

399 B.C.: The first "Hemlock Day" is celebrated in Athens.
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This is perhaps the only practice of the ancients that has remained enduringly popular.

8 A.D.: Augustus Caesar exiles Ovid to the shores of the Black Sea, and later that year is voted "Innovator of the Year" by the Association of European Emperors, of which Augustus is president, CEO, and sole member.

391 A.D.: A tea party gets out of hand at the Great Library of Alexandria.

c. 450 A.D.: Attila the Hun decides it would be a great idea to destroy literacy along with the Roman Empire. He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams.

1300: Dante takes his show on the road, with the enthusiastic encouragement of his fellow Florentines.

c. 1490-1800: Spain becomes Barbecue Capital of the World, taking over from Rome, which held the title for a thousand years.

1540: Hans Holbein the Younger paints a portrait of Henry VIII as a robust, powerful monarch. A grateful Henry, hobbling on his ulcerated, syphilitic legs, rewards Holbein by releasing the painter's family from the Tower and telling the headsman to go home.
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1592-1613: William Shakespeare writes his "Histories," which among other things are designed to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Tudor line of succession.  During the writing of these plays, Richard Topcliffe, Elizabeth I's chief torturer, pays frequent visits to Shakespeare's home, "just to talk things over."   During these quiet evening chats, Topcliffe keeps his pincers warm in the hearth, "because Her Majesty is, you know, particular about these things."  Shakespeare's laundry bills are exorbitant during this period, concentrating curiously on underwear.

1674: Charles II hunts the length and breadth of England for John Locke, chief advisor to Charles' archenemy, the Earl of Shaftesbury. A century later, George III, noting Locke's influence on Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Paine and Adams, wishes Charles had tried harder.

1836-1902: Dates of the longest, most elaborate cover-up in American history, discovered only recently by extensive searches of the National Archives.  Andrew Jackson, enraged by the literati's lack of support for his policies, in 1836 challenges Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and Walt Whitman, in that order, to duels.  
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After the carnage is complete, the federal government must scramble to create essays, poems and novels to maintain the illusion that all the above writers are still alive and writing.  A sixteen-man committee within the Department of the Interior, revolving in membership over nearly seven decades, is the true creator of Walden, Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Song of Hiawatha, Leaves of Grass, and future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

1843-1883: Richard Wagner, the greatest genius opera has ever produced, writes music and libretti advancing a singular world-view.  Years later, a teenager in Braunau, Austria, thinks Wagner is way cool.

1919-1933: At last finding a foolproof way to get rid of intellectuals once and for all, Congress enacts Prohibition.
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Writers, painters and composers leave America in search of a drink, and those who don't discover the delightful long-term effects of wood alcohol. Congress is forced to repeal the law, however, after the collapse of the club soda market causes the Great Depression. The artists return home, and louse everything up once again.  Al Capone cries foul.

1950s: Thousands of people in the entertainment industry, finding themselves suddenly in the black, take a decade-long vacation.

20th Century, extending into the 21st: Heads of state including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Francois Duvalier, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini and Kim Jong-Il collaborate over the decades on the creation of a massive, multi-part cookbook. That cookbook, How to Serve Writers, serves as the basis for the most famous episode ever of The Twilight Zone.

2013: The first act of the 113th Congress is to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts.  Wanted posters of Dana Gioia and Jane Alexander go up in every post office.  jan11two-crGlenn Beck, newly appointed Secretary of National Morale, by chance hears a recording of Haydn's "Emperor" String Quartet (with its "Deutschland UberAlles" slow movement) and immediately issues an edict denouncing all classical musicians as Nazis.  Every symphony orchestra in the U.S. is shipped to a re-education camp run by Simon Cowell.  President Palin appoints Tim LaHaye to establish a similar facility for writers.  Tina Fey, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and others are deported to Gitmo, where they are forced to watch Son of Flubberover and over again.

2050: This article crimespeak refs unpersons.  Author doubleplusungood duckspeaker.  Long Live Big Brother! 

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©2011 Miles David Moore
©2011 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Miles David Moore is a Washington, D.C. reporter for Crain Communications Inc., the author of three books of poetry and
the Film Critic for Scene4.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives
Read his Blog

 

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