To the editor:
The evisceration of the arts in commercial civilizations has a long history. The latest outbreak with Brownback’s firing of the Kansas Arts Commission was promoted as “the best way to cause the arts to flourish privately in Kansas while saving taxpayer dollars.” Note: “to flourish privately,” not publicly.
What is left from ancient commercial civilizations such as Rome? Private wealth? Conquering armies? Corporate entities? We only have a few fragments from poets and essayists, warm, loving, humane and some extraordinary chisel work on statues and broken theater columns. The forms of unhurried meditation and dramatically expressive imagination.
The wealthy and powerful have always assured us they were defending civilization when in fact in their pig-headed grasping for profit and power they have almost nothing civilized to share. So little one might add that they have usually ended up eliminating one another. The joys of life are as unassimilable to them as shrapnel.
Is Brownback promoting a return to the ancient system of wealthy patronage? That will guarantee the support for what I would identify as Puritan-realism where gun toting actors have attenuated Kalashnikov conferences and debauching, make-my-day street corner shootouts.
As Kansas heads into a more paternalistic and low-paying future, a tedium vitae that lacks empathy and humane life goals, we can be assured that American artists, truly indigenous, at times marvelously bold and apt to create telluric upheavals, will have no public voice.