I can’t quite articulate exactly how much I want to see the Victorian Liberals hurled bodily into a swampy, fetid morass where they are set upon and devoured in a berserk frenzy by a herd of wild, blood-crazed boars. Such a circus I would cheer, and imagine a pre-feeding promenade in which they are lanced with banderillas and generally tormented, though I imagine the sport these spineless cretins might provide would show a profoundly unsatisfying lack of entertainment.
It is this spurious proclamation once again as arts being elitist and not ‘of and for the people’ that is the Liberals platform for the state’s arts funding. It is absolutely despicable and purposefully offensive. The Liberals arts platform, which specifically and intentionally snubs any dialogue with actual artists in the state can be reduced to this: regional eisteddfods good, Melbourne arts bad. This, we are supposed to believe will return Victoria to the forefront of arts excellence.
A couple of days ago, William Gibson, who remains one of the foundations of my, I guess you could say, imagined utopian world view, quoted another author whom I haven’t read. Zadie Smith in an interview on KCRW said this about the role of readers:
But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.
Contrast this, in which the audience is afforded an intelligence, sophistication, and active engagement and appreciation of a work with the Liberal Party policy in which as dumb fodder for sub-literate trolls, a work of art is entertainment to be passively consumed, and in which any qualities from the preceding millenniums, the transcendental capacity of art to shape and elevate our world, are annulled and replaced by a policy to restore accountability to arts spending.