Selling Out to Fashion

I remember some poets & other literati wagging pc fingers at Ginsberg & Burroughs when those two grand old men of beat did (I think they were) GAP ads. Well it’s clothing time again. A bunch of obviously just pseudo neo-post-anti-beat NYC-based poets (well, isn’t that the Sodom & Gomorrhea of this nation…) posed for ads for the Italian magazine Io Donna recently — which must have been a lot of fun, and I’m just plain jealous for being stuck here in Albany with the S&G blues again — and got their righteous fingerwaggin’s from the Italian anARca blog (note that those defenders of the pure ethics of poetry have what looks like a burning book or at least burning paper as their logo):

“Pum Pum! Chi è? La polizia” Meno male!

A post about consistence in Arts and life. How could some great poets and artist betray their own words, vision and poetics? Is still essential consistence in life and to mark artistic value?

Franca Rame, wife and companion in arts of the nobel prize Dario Fo, now sitting in the Senate of italian parliament, recently asked the police to investigate about a menacing troll in her blog. The sad thing is that the couple of celebrated italian artists had carved their whole career promoting anarchism, socialist uprising, direspect and deep criticism about institutions and public authority. Their art has got a deep and clear political profile: revolution and revolt against the “system” and the power, radically criticized.

So it sounds at least suprprising and honestly squalid that now Franca Rame is not only highly integrated in the political machinery and public authority, but that she ran immediately to seek protection from policemen, the same police that she and Fo had in past times magistrally mocked – as well as clerics and other public figures – in most of their dramas and pieces.

Besides – a last blatant, but more subtle case history – a group of Newyorchese neo-Beats poets that posed for a fashion promo in the italian magazine “Io Donna” (13th january 2007).

There John Giorno, Aaron Johnson, John Coletti, Eric Keenaghan, Christopher Stackhouse, Matthew Goodman, Jeffrey Lependorf, Paul Killebrew, Jay Baron Nicorvo, Edwin Torres, Koko Turkiaruul, Dan Hoy, Matthew Yeager, Mark Bibbins, Alessandro Ricciarelli, Maurizio Pellegrin, Graham Bezanson, John Deming, Chris Scott, Ted Wada, Taylor Mead, David Lehman, Landon Jones, Pontus Berghe, Nathaniel A. Singer, Danny and Sean, “sold their poetry” to promote major fashion and sell luxury garments. Is their art still trustworthy? Is it consistent using high art for selling goods and serve only fashion business?

We think not. Truly not. At least in that case, except that their poetics are not devoted to decadence, dandysm, or celebrate plain marketing. Does know the poetess Fernanda Pivano – she wrote the preface in the promo – that her own words serve such a business? Is the spirit of the beat poetics and basically Arts to sell products that are mass-produced by workers not waged in proportion to the final selling price?

Is not that price a sort of usury – compared to the material value of the garment and the gap between worker wages and final income?

We think yes. Purely yes. And we have again to recognize as a real touchstone in arts the value and consistence of artists as Ezra Pound and Yukio Mishima, that paid – the first with imprisonment and mental asylum, the last with his own blood – their loyalism in politics, the faith in bushido, giving a true sense to their art and clarity to their visions. Yes, Mishima was a dandy, but he never presented himself as a paladin of proletarian revolution or populism.

Because Loyalty is loyalty, Consistence is consistence and Truth is truth, even in Arts.

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2 Responses

  1. mairead says:

    I don’t know if I agree with you or not, Pierre, but I like your flat uncompromising statements. “I don’t know if I agree with you or not” because the issues you raise are not my issues, I haven’t been paying attention to them, not because I am a prevaricator, which I am not, though prevarication, acknowledgement of complexity, withholding of judgement, are all culturally easy options–insurance policies against being wrong, though still replete with possibility for being wrong. That’s a long sentence! Hello!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dude, you gotta be kidding me… – CS

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