The macabre and grim, rage-filled pain
Of the artist is modern art, they say,
With tales of people trapped and bound,
Unable to be relieved,
Even for a moment,
By laughter or a smile.
It does not celebrate ugliness,
But says all that there is is lies,
And the only thing to feel is anguish.
This is how art sees modernity –
Without hope, or joy, or respite.
In despite of this, I, a child of the wires,
Who swipes and clicks and hyperlinks,
Know the word ‘hope’ –
I hope you will read this;
I remember what joy was –
It was happiness, bliss;
And I have found respite,
A laugh in the absurdity
Of modernity – so I defy you,
‘Modern’ artists, to explain,
My intermittent lack of pain,
The innocent pleasure and hope I have,
And issue a further challenge –
To depict my joy in your art.
Today’s poem is crudely titled – it might be more accurate to say that it relates to a particular philosophy of modern art, which is widespread in theatre, literature, art, and my own personal field of interest, opera. I tried to recall the last truly happy moment I’ve seen in a new opera, with no undertones of falsehood or pain, and could not. So I wrote this, to call for art that does not simply write about pain in order to solicit a response – for that is easy to do ‘artistically’ – but instead takes the challenge of taking happiness and making it appear, not trite and clichéd, but as part of art. I do not believe that all art must be optimistic – far from it – but that it is too easy for us to pretend that cynicism is the same as intelligence. We are allowed moments of happiness in modernity – art becomes false if it ignores them. Perhaps I will expand on these thoughts some other time, but for now, here is a brief synopsis of them. I will read any commentary with pleasure.
The Hapless Neo-Romantic