Vol. 2, Issue #9 May 25th - June 7th, 2007

Tiger Beat From Hell
By: Wilhelm Murg

Mutation, Failure, Hoopla, and Culture

The problem with trying to critique or understand a given art, whether it’s music, or the plastic arts, or the written word, is that you always try to LEAVE the prejudicial world you were raised in – the one that has evolved enough to believe it has a Divine right to explain these artifacts from another “heathen” culture, or items left over from its own “less enlightened” periods. A lot of the hippies saw this dilemma, that critique is a Western – and near imperial - concept. A few tried to change things - like my mentor, the late Dr. Lydia Wyckoff, who would go off into the dark culture to find the intelligentsia and counterpart to Western academia - but the majority simply paid it no mind and continued to receive grants for whatever esoterica they were involved in. It’s like academia’s answer to the homeless problem – just give them some change and the poor Sisyphusian bastards will go off and continue to accumulate pointless statistics about 18th century Native Baskets of the upper-Mid-West for a few more years.

It is almost a duty, not only to society in general, but to your artistic ancestors, and your own decaying social class - which seemed to be much needed hoopla at the time - to get to the next step in evolution. Like sperm trying to fertilize an egg, your ideas struggle forward for no clear reason except the vague possibility of continued existence. Maybe it’s just the nightmare screams of the post-modern world – where we can annihilate a city at the touch of a button – but once that evolutionary step takes place, one doesn’t find oneself amid the comforting dandies of yore, but in a world devastated of every conceivable notion of music or art known to the western mind a hundred years ago. Like the explorers who would come across an obscure nunnery wanting no more than a nights rest, the doors open to unspeakable acts of hysteria as the solemn sisterhood masturbate with crosses and take turns crapping on the alter “because they were possessed by demons.” The learned man knew these demons well; they were the same ones implanted in every creature that had scraped past the evolutionary survival-of-the-fittest-death-machine. It would be hard for a scholar to look at such a situation and not wonder, “Am I a part of the repressive system that drove these poor women to such a situation?”

I’m only half-white and only went partially through academia, and I wonder such things about myself. I remember being a child on our family ranch, playing with my toys while listening to my mother, who was half-Osage and half-Cherokee, play Rachmaninov on her baby grand piano. The Osages were “victims” of instant oil wealth. My Mother was taught to play piano as a matter of course for becoming a proper young lady – who, of course, would also be capable of maintaining a baby grand piano. I was the next generation where the culture would set in and take the place of any heathen instinct left over from my great-grandfather’s time. It did a fairly good job, though I think the wires got crossed and aesthetics ended up becoming religion (the two are somewhat intermingled in the Native imagination).

But even with such “proper” upbringing, I realize we are no longer the noble heirs raised to patronize the tradition of the grand opera, but the lowly second sons kicked out into the farther reaches of darkest Africa or the driest deserts of the Middle-East to “find” our fortunes and plant our nations’ flags. Intellectual imperialism is far more effective than military imperialism ever thought about getting – you don’t have to convince as many people, and the ammunition doesn’t cost as much...but you need a lot of second sons.

Like Jules in “Pulp Fiction,” when he realizes he is “the tyranny of evil men,” I keep having revelations that I am a tainted voice of Western culture that believes it stands in the hand of god and expects to see the dandies of yore. Yet when I come to my senses and the overwhelming picture goes out of focus, I realize it’s something closer to a mutation, and I am a true son of the atomic blast that kicked off post-modernism. The funny books are being considered literature, Elvis’ music is the oldest music most Americans are exposed to – and thus it has become classical music, the rock concert has replaced the opera, pornography is getting a second evaluation as a socially meaningful and subversive art, and the vast TV wasteland has become the mythic mirror that we use to see ourselves.

Even Dr. Wyckoff got it wrong – once she found the indigenous counterpart to Western academia, she would immediately recruit their young into Western academia, proper. If she truly wanted a broad understanding of these indigenous cultures to go out to the world, she should have gotten the tribes their own reality TV shows – which is more compelling to most people than a great book.

In the great scheme of things there is nothing “wrong” here, anymore than a river changing its course is “wrong.”

Contemporary criticism is a part of this mutation. As the aristocratic notion of timeless art continues to be knocked over by our cultural Bolsheviks, criticism has become a constant reevaluation of the rubble left behind, and the rubble seems to reconfigure itself hourly. The imperialism of Western thought has changed from teaching the natives Shakespeare to giving them access to the internet, the dandies are twisted monsters born in the atomic testing grounds, and art has become as disposable as the sandwich wrappers from your lunch, except as investments.

Though it’s hard to tell, I am not anti-academic, but I keep wondering what all that hoopla was about. Do we really have to hammer Eminem’s “8 Mile” into the concept of film noir? Does “The Dark Knight Returns” have to be deconstructed like a Dickensian novel? Do we really have to think of McCartney as our Mozart? New ORGANIC concepts are needed – not jut some dick deciding to come up with his own system – but these classical Western concepts are like a virus, and we can’t get rid of the damn things.

The only answer at the moment is to trudge on, like the forgotten second sons lost in a strange and hostile climate, and continue to describe each new mutated bird as it comes along.

©2007 NONCO Media, L.L.C.