Destructiveness and creativity are often the flip sides of each other. To carve a wood statute, I must cut down a tree.
My survey of history suggests that cultural achievement and political comfort rarely go hand in hand. The glory that was Greece was more creative yet more unstable than the prosaic, stable, repressive grandeur that was Rome. The dull British have been far better governed than the exuberant French. The great period of Chinese philosophy was known as the "Waring States Period" while the great period of Chinese poetry took place during the An Lu-shan Rebellion, a horrific civil war that nearly destroyed the Tang Dynasty.
There are various reasons for this: Necessity is the mother of invention; these are times that try one's soul, etc. Artists are "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," so you are asking for trouble if, for some reason, they wind up in charge.
Conversely, order is repressive. I am not really interested in your expressing yourself by your conducting a drag race down the Interstate. When Salvador Dali threw bricks through a window, he also created a mess. The Beasleys in Harry Potter are not just nasty; they are bores. Bruce Schneier is now discussing the "War on the Unexpected." Any good art is "Unexpected."
So whatever the politics of the upcoming era may be, we are apt also to have quite a bit of creativity. Enjoy the ride.
Dec 2, 2007
The good times are killing me...
Excellent quote from Duncan Kinder over at Global Guerrillas which happens to pretty much echo my sentiments on the overlap of international chaos and culture. It also happens to be far better expressed than I could do, so I'm stealing it for all of you to consider: