the infrastructure of cultural politics
By William Osborne
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thank you for your comments, John. I can well understand how the generality
that American new music has lost its intellectual capacity for creating
political music might seem ridiculous, but as a larger historical trend, it is
You mention a few groups performing at John Zorn’s The Stone, but their obscurity is notable and illustrates my point. Obviously, just about anyone can write something political, but a *culture* of political art is something entirely different. And in comparison to the 30s,
First, political art requires an infrastructure to support it. There must be a spectrum of journals to cover, discuss and encourage political art; there must be theaters and concert halls to present it; there must be librettists and composers experienced in the creation of political art; and there must be a public with the political sophistication and experience to intelligently participate. Our country as a whole, and our composers (for the most part,) have largely lost this capacity – especially in comparison to
You are quite right that the political culture of European new music has weakened considerably, but it is still much more healthy than in the States. In fact, it is almost impossible for European new music to avoid politics, because it is almost entirely funded by governments. In
I might also mention that
Americans should realize that without an appropriate cultural infrastructure, the capacity for political art is lost.
I hope this will make by perspective clearer, though I doubt we will ever fully agree, because my views as an expat are far outside the norm.
I just deleted a couple paragraphs devoted to Santa Fe (where you live) and this topic, but I will save them for another time. Maybe we can chat when I am home in NM in the summers.