Sunday, August 8, 2010

The indeterminate value of propaganda and art

I've come to realize a few things lately. It's true that a French press makes one of the better cups of coffee that I've had in a while. While i do not yet have a verdict of Parisi coffee vs. KC Roasters, i think that either bean made as a home brew will prove the result of that.
Also, fresh/frozen green chile will always be better than canned. No questions there, even when it's 9 months old!
As for art, I've realized that art imagery relating to war is always propaganda. I err on the side of powerful depictions, soldiers, bodies, grizzly realities, though not too grizzly. Other artists have gone that same route, Botero with Abu Ghraib, Goya and the Franco Prussian War, or Picasso with his masterpiece Guernica. The Chapman Brothers, Kathe Kollwitz, and Otto Dix as well. But then I thought about those images, mothers searching through bodies, torture, humiliation, and horrors manifest in the form of action figurines, and it seemed to me that we are all as guilty of spinning information as the governments who spin the opposite side of a conflict.
Picture a military TV commercial or recruitment brochure, full of excitement, optimism, or positivity, and consider the nature of that propaganda and how staged it is and how it glosses over huge portions of the reality of war. Sure you can be a military doctor like the one in a photograph, but you'll be in a tent or room with screaming bloody colleagues, doing what you can to save their lives, or maybe just their limbs. My imagined visual of this is just that, imagined. My depiction of horror is just that, a depiction of horror. I often wonder if my depiction of a wounded soldier is any better than that of an actor in a military brochure, and on a virtual level I think I've come to see them as equal. Neither tells a complete idea and neither could possibly do justice to he reality that few of us will ever understand since we may never see war up close.
Check out Arundhati Roy and an article she wrote in the early days about the war on terror. I heard it yesterday in my car. I sat in my car for 20 minutes listening to it, unable to open the door to go into my apartment. I cried, I thought, and I felt helpless. It angered me, but then I thought more people should hear it. I can't name what station it was on, but I'm sure it's not hard to find.
And as for the coffee, I suppose my taste buds are different than yours, but I prefer the warmer softer Roasters. As with an image it is in the eye of the beholder.