Monday, December 03, 2007

G.K. Chesterton on Anarchy and Art

"An artist is identical with an anarchist. ... You might transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything. He sees how much more valuable is one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thunder, than the mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen. An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. if it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway."
From G.K. Chesterton's 1908 novel The Man Who Was Thursday, in which a poet becomes a policeman disguised as a poet to infiltrate an anarchist group. He befriends an anarchist who disguises himself as an anarchist because no one actually expects an anarchist to be dangerous and then finds that the inner circle of the anarchist group consists entriely of undercover policemen.

The counterpoint to the anarchist statement above is as follows:
“I tell you, that every time a train comes in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers, and that man has won a battle against chaos. You say contemptuously that when one has left Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one might do a thousand things instead, and that whenever I really come there I have the sense of hair-breadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word ‘Victoria,’ it is not an unmeaning word. It is to me the cry of a herald announcing conquest. It is to me indeed ‘Victoria’; it is the victory of Adam.”

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Blogger k said...

How long does art last without a school or a style? Without a kinship of understanding, art is often forgotten because it cannot inspire or leave a legacy. Communication is powerful in robust networks where great tensions seethe like communism and fascism mingling. Anarchy sounds great in theory, but once those pods of society disconnect, the circle of voices grows smaller and can be more swayed by singular, unchecked speech that is anything but poetic. It becomes heavy, droning and dark. Art seeks foremost to communicate. Even if that communication is solely for recognition, it still communicates existence. The thought of anarchy inspires art, while actual anarchy speaks against it.

11:43 PM  

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