Reading Art Without Borders (Scharfstein), but I can’t continue until I copy out this quoted bit from Henry Glassie:

It is another message of folk art that creativity need not lead to the destruction of norms. It can be dedicated to the perfection of things as they stand. . . .Art is our birthright. We are stuck here. Alone, one by one, we are born and die. We are members of groups without which we could not survive our first day. From them we learn. To them we return our learning. And all the time beyond us flows and cracks, without question, a power not ours that we can bend but not master. Art is the way we come to grips with this and make it visible, comprehensible. Born into this mumbo jumbo world, we have a right to make art, and I call conditions good that enable us to be artists, and I condemn conditions that steal art from us. Art is the way we achieve our humanity. The enemies of art are the enemies of humankind. If they say art is a privilege of the rare talented few or the possession of prosperous white men, I say they act criminally toward their kind.

(The Spirit of Folk Art)

So, that’s why I had to stop reading for a minute and try and figure out who is on either side of that divide, since much of popular culture is not a gift of art but a theft of our own artistic determination, and of course, of our money. To my mind, when a cloud of anonymous shareholders is the determining factor in what sort of pap is thrust into the brainpans  of the public, then of course you end up with an audience trained to respond like anonymous wisps of cloud. Too many people have had their own creativity diminished, their own art stolen, by the very institutions that claim they are simply giving the audience what they want; creativity is reduced to swapping the semiotic coin of the realm with peers, chatting in some version of corporatese about the mascara sale at Eckerds, why football is great and soccer is boring, if Lady Gaga has a penis, and why the new Facebook layout sucks. But these are not sufficient, not even close, and so people grow into themselves or explode, or both.

246) Deftones: White Pony

I was so hoping they were going to cover this:

but oh well. Good anyway, nice turns and twists and most are for the sake of the song, not just to be twisty.

247) Verdi: Aida

Apparently someone made a rock opera of this Verdi monolith, Disney, I think, and then Elton John wrote the music… christ, why? is the first thing that comes to mind, then I remember that it’s Disney, in the age of regurgitation, and move on.

248) Mose Allison: The Best of Mose Allison

So damn likeable it’s almost unlikeable, but not quite, and so is fab, and I might just stick this one back in the pile so I get to listen to it a again in a few months.

249) Pamela Lucia: Into Outer Space With Pamela Lucia

Yes. Thanks, Pamela. See you there.

250) Pan Assembly: Hot Steel Music

Steel drums, that is, though there is a version of  “Iron Man” here. A good soca, and “Pan In Yuh,” which is apparently a steel drum band standard. A serious din.


  1. Richard

    Thomas Kuhn makes a similar point about science that creates new “paradigms” (it wasn’t yet as annoying a word when he was using it in the 1960s) and “normal science” – science that could be said to be “dedicated to the perfection of things as they stand”. Just good solid science that doesn’t try to change the way the world is envisioned, but tries to get the damn measurement correct, or isolate the element perfectly, then see what happens when you heat it up 200 degrees. They do this work not because they are geniuses (they aren’t) or because they are changing humanity’s frame of understanding (they aren’t) or because they have the slightest chance of getting famous (they don’t). On some level, 99% of scientists spend their careers tinkering in the labs because it is – like making folk art – an incredibly satisfying way to spend one’s life.

  2. Richard

    Oh, yes, and if you want to ride. don’t ride the white horse…
    Thanks a lot Marc, like I am going to be able to get that song out of my head today…

  3. terena

    loved this piece. it is what I think about art sometimes, but written far more eloquently than I could try to explain.

    your interview is on the Medusa blog, with links on the facebook Punk fan sight (yes. I use Facebook). Here’s the post link:

    I loved your responses to the questions.

  4. admin (Post author)

    Well thanks! I’ve been digging the interviews thus far, thanks again for putting this project together!

  5. admin (Post author)

    Wow, haven’t read Kuhn in a long time, love the comparison. I certainly think the work of lab scientists qualifies as folk art… when it gets peer reviewed and published, then it changes, like when folk art goes up in a gallery. I bet most lab scientists would say the work is the joy, and the publication, not so much… but of course there are scientists whose motivation is publication and prestige… but I hesitate to call that art. It is a kind of creativity, climbing the ladder, but it is not done to provide the world with a creation, with something for others to find meaning in. Lab scientists might enjoy the flow of work, and also the idea that they are helping further our species, which makes it art to me.

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