Mike Gravel the “Avant Garde of the New Artpolitical Era”?


I didn’t know we were entering into a new “artpolitical” era. And if this is a new one, was there an old one?

I probably don’t know these things because I’m not an art history professor writing in the LA Times. If I was, I would understand that Mike Gravel, what with his crazy campaign ads, is a genius on par with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Jackson Pollack. And the interpretation of Gravel and his campaign goes something like this:

Gravel’s works confront us with our own existences and our deaths, the brute thereness of truth, the skull beneath the $400 haircut, the cellulite under the pants suit. His is neo-existentialist, post-apocalyptic, post-post modern art, a silence that screams and cajoles.

Gravel’s politics are a politics of the body and of the physical world, of what is underneath our language and above it, what is broken and beautiful, the real world of human beings.

I suggest to you that a Gravel presidency would lead to an entirely new America, doing to us what cubism did to post-impressionism: dragging us moaning in glorious epiphanic pain into a new world.

It may be that Gravel, like Vincent van Gogh, Friedrich Nietzsche or indeed, Crispin Sartwell, is a premature birth of an astonishing future. He may toil in obscurity, misunderstood or ignored in his own time. And yet, whether we can fully theorize him or not, Mike Gravel, though he may never be president, has brought us all to the very brink of political ecstasy.

A ten on the crazy meter? That’s probably what most Times readers will say. But I’ll go with an eight — there are some kernels of truth in there.

And good golly, I enjoyed that op-ed more than any other in a long, long time.

Via The Plank.

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