September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document

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Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2001 22:22:32 -0400
To: Sarah Tuft [private]
Subject: Food for thought

** September 11, 2001 **

Art Still Matters... Now more than ever
Date: Sat Sep 22 [2:23 PM]
Posted By: X

I want to agree with X's earlier posting and add a thought or two of my own.

In this terrible time of sorrow and mourning, it is impossible not, at least briefly, to despair that art matters, that in fact anything matters, in comparison with the horror we have all lived through. There are places in my heart that ache so badly I wonder how I or anyone can continue to go on, or if anything means anything anymore. I want to give up. Why make movies? Why write about them? What does it matter?

But at rare moments of calm and insight, as I attempt to work through these events emotionally, I realize the opposite is true. It is not a time to give up, but to get to work. We need art. We need truth-telling films. We need our artists. Desperately. More than we ever did before.

If an independent filmmaker or critic can find any positive lesson in this tragedy, it is about the crucial importance of what we do, and what the best among us have been doing for decades. An event like that of Sept. 11th wakes us and all America up out of the slumber of unreality that Hollywood "entertainment" and most of the media have been wallowing in for the past thirty years. It has suddenly and painfully been brought home to us what a culture of unreality we have been living in. A culture of Rambo silliness. A culture of Titanic teenage sentimentality. A culture of Matrix video game
escapism. A culture where the news media devote hour after hour of their time to documenting the sexual misbehavior of politicians, but ignore the real human news everyday. A culture where people seemed to care more about whether the stock market went up or down, than about the meaning of their lives or the lives of others in the rest of the world.

To adapt a phrase by Neil Postman, Sept. 11 brings home to us, painfully and embarrassingly, how much we have been entertaining ourselves to death--and how much the unreality of the 3the movies2 and the media has contributed to the irrelevance. We suddenly see how much we have been gorging ourselves on irrelevance, immorality, sensationalism, and escapism.

Now more than ever we need artists who will help us to wake up from our sleep of unreality. Who will tell us the truth about our lives, our emotions, our culture, and our world. Painful and hard truths at times; joyous and celebratory truths at others. The task of the artist of the future, like the task of the artist of the past and the artist everywhere, is not necessarily to focus on this specific event or necessarily to allude to it in any way, but to explore the tortured chambers of the human heart and mind that could cause it, as well as the capacities of our hearts and minds to reach out in unbelievable expressions of love and kindness in response to it. We need our artists to help us understand what we are and what we can be. It is time to get on with our work. It matters now more than ever.

Email Date:Wed, 26 Sep 2001

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