Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Christian zeal, and Queen Victoria's space programme




I've spent most of the past twenty-four hours in bed with nerve pain, courtesy of the venerable injury that has been one of the more tedious recurring themes of this blog. When I'm in this state I tend to avoid the mainstream media - self-pity and irritability are a combustible enough combination, without being spiced with self-righteous outrage at the philistinism and complacency this country's newspaper editorialists exude. Foolishly, though, I stole a look at this morning's New Zealand Herald, which carries a story about the persecution of a small girl by a Bible in Schools instructor:

A couple who took their daughter out of a school class based on the Bible were dismayed to find her left alone in a classroom "naughty corner" with a book during the 35-minute lesson...Jeff McClintock posted a photograph of his 7-year-old daughter Violet on the Secular Education Network Facebook page showing the little girl kneeling on the floor next to a rubbish bin...When he arrived one day to check on her he found her in the corner children are sent to for being naughty.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, but I can't deny that Christianity, along with the other great world religions, has produced some superbly erudite and subtle thinkers. What a pity that the ideas of St Augustine, Gerard Manley Hopkins, John Updike and Nathan Parry never seem to feature in New Zealand's benighted Bible in Schools programme. When I was at Drury School back in the eighties, the volunteers who traipsed in to make us sing hymns and say prayers were a mixture of fanatics, neurotics, misogynists, and good old-fashioned psychotics. One of them told us that babies who bothered their parents by crying too often deserved to be beaten; another, who had apparently never read St Augustine, insisted on the literal truth of the Book of Genesis, and topped that act of stupidity by denying the theory of evolution.

The most loveably mad pulpit bully of all was Mister Chick, whom I saluted in this poem. After the poem was published in Landfall, a few people asked me whether Mister Chick was, like, really real. He was.

At the recent launch of Bronwyn Lloyd's excellent issue of brief I bumped into the great Kiwi-Samoan - he prefers the term Kamoan - painter Andy Leleisi'uao. I know that 'bumped' long ago became a loose, rather lazy label for any sort of unexpected meeting, but my encounter very nearly returned the verb to its primordial sense: I was so excited to see the Blakean creator of the Ufological villages of Sepataua and Maevaeua walk into the room that I shivered, staggered, and almost fainted all over him.
When I had steadied my gait, if not my voice, I asked Andy about the threats he sometimes receives from religious zealots. Was it true that his very first exhibition, in the western suburbs of Sydney a decade and a half ago, had almost been trashed by visitors outraged by a canvas festooned with the legend ALL SAMOAN MINISTERS ARE WANKERS? Yes, Andy replied, in his soft, saintly voice. The trouble, he added, has continued. The recent Immigrant Mind retrospective at Auckland's Wallace Gallery, which featured a portrait of a priest with an enormous power socket on his forehead, has hardly placated the Leleisi'uao-haters. I think that the discussion of Andy Leleisi'auo's art should be made a compulsory part of any Bible in Schools programme.
Here's a somewhat Ufological poem I wrote last night, after ingesting unhealthy quantities of painkillers. It is supposed to be part of a long, silly sequence called 'Urban Legends'. I figure that if Matthew Dentith's latest bunch of conspiracy theorists can send a teenage Obama to Mars then I can fire Augustus Pugin at the moon.


An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture on the Moon (for Andy Leleisi'uao)

We’ve been on the moon
since 1851. To outwit the Habsburgs
and Tsar Alexander, the Victorians disguised their scientists
as architects, their rocket programme
as cathedral construction.

Pugin launched St Chad’s from Birmingham
and planted it three weightless days later
on Mare Ingenii, the Sea
of Cleverness. Lord Russell locked him in Bedlam
when he tried to write a Treatise
about lunar design.

The moon, Pugin knew,
was an alien spacecraft.
The rocky outer coating,
he wrote, is camouflage,
like the skin of a crocodile
or the roof of a turtle.
The moon’s craters were
the accursed work of a classicist 
who inverted the domes of St Peters
and St Pauls. The moon’s orbit,
Pugin noted, was preprogrammed.
So is its descent.

[Posted by Scott Hamilton]

48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are undeniably dark forces...so why not a Christ-head/God??

6:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The satanists who actually worship the biblical Satan are known as devil worshipers or inverted Christians. They are often not accepted by atheistic or theistic satanists .

The Yezidis, a sect of Devil worshippers, actually believe in god and that God is all-powerful, but also all-forgiving, and so accordingly feel that it is the Devil whom they must please, as he is the one who rules their lives while here on earth. They believe so strongly that God will forgive all of their sins once they have been given the last
rites, that they feel no need to concern themselves with the opinion God may hold of them while they live. Obviously,the Yezidis are not accepted by postmodern satanists.

There is a very interesting Cult of Black Wicca ,which I think is one of the only true forms of Wicca, known as the Kalimite Sect.They’re Wiccan Neo pagan Eclectics who also use European Satanism and African-Anerican Voodoo and Shamanism.

Another interesting aspect of the Kalimites is they use a great deal of daily life practice from the Amish. Hunting and raising as much of their own food as possible. They take great care to minimize the suffering of the animals taken for food. If only every religion would incorporate this humane practice !

You can learn more about this interesting and unique path from the anti-Reverend Retson Retap’s You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/ChurchOfKali66619 and from the Church of Kali’s website http://www.churchofkali.com/

7:39 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Good poem Scott. I had to do some Google wiki research on Pugin. Ruskin (who had his good points) it seems, put the boot into him, so to speak.

7:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. Poems rhyme. Better luck next time loser.

8:23 pm  
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8:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ask why andy lelei's mural was pulled off the mangere arts centre...

9:34 pm  
Anonymous praise god/fuck satan said...

Why not PRAISE GOD WHO CREATED MANkind who could invent NUCLEAR BOMBS within 6000years which monkeys need zillion of years to do?

Humans use human logic and so not able to understand God who is unlimited and infinitely huge.

Just like a man stretching out his hands by 1.8m distance in 1 second...would take a snail to travel this 1.8m in possibly few minutes...

Infinite God can fill the ENTIRE UNIverse and create a SUPER HUGE SPACE [UNIVERSE] within days.

GOD FILLS ALL SPACE!
GOD is LIGHT!

Why not 'ASSUME' that ALL-POWERFUL GOD could stretched the UNIverse within days and GOD COVERS BILLIONS AND BILLIONS and ZILLIONS OF Kilometers of SPACE!

Mankind reasoning is always base SOLELY ON 'ASSumption' that
1) speed of light is CONSTANT
2) light is not affected by ELECTRON-MAGNETIC ENERGY
3) there could be many more CHARACTERISTICS of LIGHT which MANkind ignores or know not.
so Mankind concluded that the light of farthest stars 'NEED' 'billion light years' to travel this SPACE to be seen on earth.

1)Why not 'ASSUME' that Light is zillion times faster when God created the STARS in the beginning?
2)Why not 'ASSUME' that ELECTRON-MAGNETIC ENERGY can affect Light and increase speed or bend light?
3)Why not 'ASSUME' that there are many more unknown CHARACTERISTICS of LIGHT?
Truth could be that the STARS are just thousands of years away and that the farthest stars had the fastest speed of Light than the nearest stars seen on earth.

Mankind always calculate base on linear assumption and ignore exponential values.

Manking always think on 2 dimension and could not understand 3 dimensional objects easily and so not easy to share the information.

Why not PRAISE GOD WHO CREATED MANkind who could invent NUCLEAR BOMBS within 6000years which monkeys need zillion of years to do?

7:26 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Anonymous


"Mankind reasoning is always base SOLELY ON 'ASSumption' that
1) speed of light is CONSTANT"

Not an assumption it was proved by Michelson an Morely with relatively simple experiment using mirrors.
Hence Einstin showed that time varies which has also been proven.


"2) light is not affected by ELECTRON-MAGNETIC ENERGY"

You might mean electromagnetic waves.

Light is an electromagnetic wave form.
(Under Quantum theory though it is made of "particles", somethhing Einstein proved also.


"3) there could be many more CHARACTERISTICS of LIGHT which MANkind ignores or know not.
so Mankind concluded that the light of farthest stars 'NEED' 'billion light years' to travel this SPACE to be seen on earth."

This is true. The universe is indeed deeply mysterious.



10:55 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Richard, I love the way the young earther invokes the speed with which humans have developed nukes, and the much longer time it'd apparently take chimpanzees to develop weapons of mass destruction, to demonstrate our species' superiority!

Do you think of Pugin as a crude and slightly barmy precursor of William Morris?

1:29 pm  
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6:32 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I think - anonyomous - makes some good points - but he could re-write what he did above as kind of poem - but some irony is needed. He is too Blakean. He contradicts himself lie a good modernist a la Cleanth Brooks of 'The Well Wrought Urn' and indeed human logic can never penetrate the mystery - and I also love the way John Updike for instance works religion into 'The Valley of the Lilies' and also his 'Rabbit' books...

The problem (we all perhaps face in various ways) is of the kind Andy has encountered. His art is great but he has no way (any more than Wendt did, or evensay Rothko as his abstracts to him were deeply spiritual, deeply meaningful [and in the end he made a political statement by refusing to take big money for an exhibition]) of leaving out the politics of the hierarchical church and social system of Samoa (not forgetting the good aspects of organised religion and the human moral/spiritual quest: and the most strong image is of the three somehow quite menacing looking ministers in the third picture above. They are cartoonish and satirised perhaps like something by Shan or one of those. There is resistance to a full embrace of palangi or pakeha traditions and mores or those of the Pacific Islands.

And our friend becomes comical on nuclear weapons. He needs to read Gulliver's travels, when Gulliver, in one land, boasts to a King how in England they had the means to slaughter thousands by gun and gun powder (invented in China as steel was invented in India) etc and offers to slaughter his opposition with or via his "superior" civilization's weaponry. The King says of him to the effect that he ("Civilised Man") is:

"An odious little creature."!!

I only learnt of Pugin via your poem but on Wiki he looks very interesting. Ruskin is also but he was very or quite esthete (but also socially concerned), and it is pity he downgraded Pugin as I like the latter's cathedrals etc The have solidity and some grace.

Morris is mentioned on Wiki.

These "down" periods of yours are often very creatively productive, rhyme or no rhyme!

8:40 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

anonymous gets no closer to proving that God does or doesn't exist and is a bit unfair on Monkeys but his clever image of the hands and the snail show he has some creative potential himself - that is he needs some hard work and maybe a lot more reading as well. Some more crafting etc and reworking before Komissar Brett would take it for Titus!

But he or she is at least thinking of some fundamental existential questions, as indeed Andy certainly (?) was - possibly anon is a teenager?

8:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Esoteric Hitlerists and conspiracy theorists interested in Nazi mysticism and World War II have speculated that the Germans landed on the Moon as early as 1942. Evidence for these claims has been asserted in reports and articles written by Vladimir Terziski, the president of the American Academy of Dissident Sciences (whose mailing address is an apartment in Los Angeles). Terziski’s writings are associated with Miguel Serrano’s claims relating to New Swabia and discuss purported German explorations and colonisations of the Moon (and Mars) before the historic Moon landing in July 1969. This story also incorporates the urban legend of an Apollo moon landing hoax.

According to other theories it is believed that the Nazi’s had made contact with ‘half a dozen’ alien races, including the malevolent Reptilians.

These accounts suppose that the Nazis had a capability for spaceflight due to their advanced technology in engineering as well as the “exoatmospheric” rocket saucers of the Miethe and Schriever type, which are described in Terziski’s work along with pictures and designs.

According to these myths, the flying saucer (Flugscheibe) and rocket craft models were produced by the SS Military Technical Branch E-IV of the Nazi “military science division”.

These "interplanetary" flying crafts are said to be the vehicles in which the Nazis managed to land and colonise the Moon along with Mars:

The first of the crafts were designed by Viktor Schauberger who modelled the Repulsin A & B, a discoid craft that functioned on a vortex motor (examples [Repulsin A] [Repuslin B]).

The Rudolf Shriever Flugkreisel (Flight Gyro), a disc-shaped aircraft (with 5 kerosene jet engines but no apparent oxidisation source for operation in the vacuum of space) “was first produced” in 1943 as an interplanetary exploration vehicle. It purportedly had a diameter of 60 metres and stood 45 metres high, as well as containing 10 stories of crew compartments.

The Richard Miethe Flugscheibe (Flight Disc) prototype (with the Schauberger vortex motor), designed in April 1944 as a rocket craft built to 15 and 50 metres of diameter.
Vladimir Terziski believes he has proven the existence of a lunar atmosphere, as well as the presence of water and vegetation on the Moon. He also claims space suits are not needed on the Moon, that the Germans constructed their lunar headquarters by tunneling under the lunar surface and by the end of the war had established a small Nazi research base.

According to Terziski the Germans continued their space effort from the Antarctic colony of Neuschwabenland after the end of the war in May 1945.

1:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the US plan to blow up the moon during the Cold War?

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/28/us-planned-to-blow-up-the-moon_n_2202767.html?ncid=GEP

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Andy's conduct when he was commissioned to do the mural at the Mangere East people's centre, was downright disrespectful. Despite how people interpret his art, his manner and stuck up behaviour is ugly in anyone's book.

10:45 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

But unsubstantiated claims by unnamed people don't exactly reek of integrity, do they, anon?

The mural Andy Leleisi'uao produced for Mangere was a very fine piece of art. If the mural was rejected because of disquiet in the community, then that reflects poorly on the community. But genuine artists have always had to contend with the philistinism and fear of their fellow citizens. It's instructive to remember the hysteria that Colin McCahon had to deal with a few decades ago.

3:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt his works were great for an art gallery, but it was not according to the brief given to him. He had done an earlier mural which everyone loved, showing people of different ethnicities dancing along the wall of the Mangere East centre. His "ufo" panels just didn't meet what the community wanted. So it's not philistinism, but it's about doing what he was contracted to do. On top of that, his looking down on South Aucklanders cut deeper than any misunderstanding over his artwork.

5:02 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

But Andy lived in Mangere and worked in Otara (in the 90s). I know him as he was in my poetry club and he was (and I suppose still is) a very nice man. He is also quite witty and very bright.

I think his first exhibition was in Mangere or Manurewa, but it was only gently critical as far as I can recall.

I haven't seen his murals - but art or literature that invokes comment or controversy is often healthy.

If the "contract" was broken is that not an issue with those who commissioned his work?

You may be right anon but I don't recall him as "looking down". Was or is he insensitive or sensationalist? I don't know: but who can go though life without making mistakes and or making some enemies, or "ruffling feathers"?

8:09 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I see it now...the people banned this!!

(here is an image and a discussion of it and some of Andy;s art -

http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/banned-art-gets-a-second-chance-100052

Andy, while a part of it like Albert Wendt, is up against the Samoan (the very name means sacred bird, but surely all Polysnesian (Maori,Samoan Tongan etc) come from a (rich) culture that originated way before Christianity?)* obsession with religion and punishment etc but a people who cant see the need for discussion or criticism of their ways (whether they are local Pakeha rejecting the Torso by Hepworth (I recall the huge controversy of that when I was young, as well as the scorn heaped on the great art of Colin Mcahon)...

They need to be listening and looking to the art of such as Andy's.



*I am always disappointed when I see Anglo Saxon art and culture "tainted" as I see by Christian ikons and crap. So I hanker for the pre-Christian cultures.

8:24 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

I'm sorry, anon, but the outcome of an artistic project can't be predetermined by a committee, and the success of a work of art isn't determined by an opinion poll.

Mangere should have been honoured to receive the mural Leleisi'uao produced for its Arts Centre, just as McCahon's commissioned work should have been welcomed rather than scorned back in the '60s.

I'm pleased to hear that Andy defied the directives of the people who commissioned his work - all great commissioned art involves that sort of defiance - and I think his alienation from his community only confirms his status as a great artist. What worthwhile painter or poet ever adhered to the moral and aesthetic norms of their community?

In twenty years, or even sooner, the Mangere Arts Centre will be falling over itself to claim responsibility for the Mangere Aroha mural, Leleisi'uao will be getting honours from the Samoan government, and the Ufological paintings will be imitated by students in every South Auckland high school art department.


9:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott, firstly, it was the Mangere East People's Centre, not the Mangere Arts Centre.

Here's a link where it talks about his interaction with the People's Centre over the mural.

http://1samoana.com/niuzila/2009/03/02/art-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder/

9:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Photo of part of the original mural by Andy. Very different to the Ufological panels.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/manukau-courier/3236522/Parents-centre-here-to-help

10:10 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

'Photo of part of the original mural by Andy'

God what a shocker! It looks like a cross between a still from the video for Michael Jackson's Heal the World and a piece of socialist realist art from Mao's China. Andy was honourbound to repudiate that sort of guff.

I'm not surprised you haven't tried to make your argument for the first mural and against the second in aesthetic terms, anon, but have instead focused on irrelevances like public opinion and Andy's behaviour.

10:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheesh Scott, you sound like another stuck up Palagi who knows better than the brown folk of Mangere.

The original mural was produced BY Andy. Just because it doesn't cater to YOUR tastes doesn't mean South Aucklanders can't enjoy it. Its a People's centre, not an art gallery. A place for the community by the community.

11:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The argument is, he was contracted to produce an artwork, and he failed to do so according to the brief given. The Centre acknowledged the artistic value of the panels he produced, and offered to have them displayed at the Mangere Arts Centre down the road. There's a place for his artwork, as critical self analysis is healthy for all communities. But his panels didn't meet the brief given by the Community centre. I hope his work is studied by all NZ high school art students. But the community should be able to have a say on what adorns the walls of their community buildings.

11:27 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

Anon, I've heard the argument you're making again and again from critics of Tonga's 'Atenisi Institute, and from those who are unhappy with the work of innovative Tongan artists like Kalisolaite 'Uhila.

It's an argument that was often heard in the 1950s and '60s by Pakeha critics of commissioned work by avant-garde artists like Henry Moore and Colin McCahon.

Neither you nor the blog post you linked to deny that Andy Leleisi'uao is a remarkable artist whose work is making waves around the world.

Your argument against the showing of Andy's work at the Mangere People's Centre is based entirely around the observation that some people in South Auckland don't understand that work, or understand it and find it offensive. You argue that the offended people of Mangere should have the right of veto over the art that appears in their community.

Because Andy doesn't accept the right of conservative elements in his community to dictate the nature of his work, you and the blog you link to characterise him as a traitor to that community, a man who has 'lost his roots'.

The sort of argument you're making shows a basic misunderstanding of the relationship between an artist or and his or her community.

Almost every important artist draws on the traditions and beliefs of the community or communities in which he or she grew up. Art is, in this sense, one of the ways in which the culture of a community can be perpetuated.

But art which merely recapitulates the established ideas and values of a community, whether because of coercion from that community's elders or because of the artist's timidity, is never of much value.

I mentioned the 'socialist realist' art of Stalinist nations, which mindlessly recapitulated the official values of the societies that funded it, as an example of the sort of sterility which results when an artist refuses to risk offending his or her community.

Visit any cafe or tourist shop in New Zealand and you'll find a similarly sterile 'official' art, which offers tourists and local philistines picturesque alpine landscapes, flowering frangipani and pohutakawa, and suns setting garishly over golden beaches.

The answer to the threat of sterility which established community values and ideas brings is not to try to escape altogether from history, tradition, and social engagement. Walk into some of the swankier galleries in the art district of Auckland or any other Western city and you'll find examples of hermetically sealed, determinedly self-referential, aggressively innovative art produced by young men and women who have responded to the pressure of conformity by fleeing into the outermost realms of postmodern theory. Most of them eventually get bored and come back.

I think that the greatest artists simultaneously acknowledge and question the established ideas and values of their communities. They show who they are and where they come from in their work, but they explicitly or implicitly criticise the shortcomings of that community.

Andy Lelei has often spoken of his contempt for the 'frangipani thing' which young Pacific artists are expected to produce. He knows that the cliches of this style of art are motivated by cultural conservatism and commercial considerations.

But rather than disengage from his community, Andy has, for a decade and a half now, laboured both to expose what he sees as its evils and to create a vision of how it might look in a paradisal future. Some of his paintings, like the expressionist canvases that show drunken Samoans beating their wives or Samoan pastors fleecing their flocks, are confrontational and distressing; others, like the sublime Ufological canvases, are joyful and inspiring affairs.

12:48 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Andy is an intellectual as well as a painter, and his concept of Kamoa, which he announced in a long manifesto and has adumbrated in subsequent interviews, is, like his art, a powerful contribution to debates about the nature of identity in the South Pacific.

To say that Andy's work should be banned from the walls of Mangere simply because it does its job and challenges the sensibilities and beliefs of conservative members of the Mangere community is to insult art, as well as Andy. It is also to insult, in a subtle way, the people of Mangere and the rest of South Auckland, by assuming that they are incapable of understanding and enjoying art, and should be fed visual pap instead. It is to deny the young people of South Auckland the mental revolution that comes from engaging with and understanding Leleisi'uao or another great artist. Would you deny these young people the right to learn about physics and biology as well, simply because the theories of evolution and the Big Bang upset conservative members of their communities? Art is as important as biology and physics, and young people have a right to it, no matter what their elders might think about it.

The blog that you link to makes the contempt for South Aucklanders implicit in your argument explicit, by contrasting the complex palangi audiences, who are able to see the layers of meaning in a work of art, with the simplistic folks of Mangere, who need a univocal, obvious meaning.

It seems to me that you and your friend are the ones who are in danger of patronising Pasifika audiences.

12:48 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes anon - interesting Blog etc. Here I agree with anon - it was what Mao was trying to do - work with people - guide them for sure - but then go back to them - from theory to practice and to theory and on, but to never go too far ahead of the people. (But also that such an error was not "punishable" but something to discuss and work on. Unfortunately he was undermined and betrayed by reactionaries who misread him). Hence the theory at least of the great Cultural Revolution.

I see Roger Fowler there. He was influenced by Marxism and Maoism. He was in the protest movement, and the Tenant's Protection Union in the 70s and helped me out once when we were threatened by a landlord...

Art is here being put above what people need and understand. Andy's failure here was political and social. Sure he could be a great artist, but one needs to consult with people on such things as murals that are commissioned by the people. (Picasso's Guernica wasn't commissioned).

They may need leading by shock or example - but the artist can do that in galleries. [The artist can also argue vigorously for a more abstract or "better" art as he or she sees it but here we are looking at work for the community to reflect it, and possibly celebrate it - so he needed to either bail out or cooperate.] In the case of a commissioned local mural, it seems to me (prima facie), to be a different matter.

I don't see that mural as so much a shocker - just different to Andy's other work.

But a problem here is that this information is coming - again -via someone who is anonymous.

What do you fear anonymous? If you are to crit. Andy etc (which you have a right to do) you need to be who you are. That would help people to appreciate your view points. It adds credibility.

3:05 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

'Art is here being put above what people need and understand.'

What you miss Richard is the dialectical relationship between an artist and their community.

Art, like physics or sociology, is one of the ways human understand their world. It should, ultimately, serve human interests.

But artists can't, any more than physicists or sociologists, be bound by the presuppositions popular in their community.

They can only do their work properly if they go beyond what is popular and what is acceptable to powers that be. They have to explore and experiment, and you can't do this with an Iranian mullah or a Samoan pastor or a Texan Baptist peering over their shoulders.

Once an artist or scientists has made new discoveries these can percolate through the general population. But artists and scientists will never discover anything if they are forced to adhere to the prejudices of the general population.

Andy Lelei was told by members of the committee set up to investigate and rule on his mural - is there not something distinctly Stalinist about the very notion of such a body? - that he was 'not a real artist' and 'should go back to working in factories'. When people like that are given power over an artist disaster is inevitable.

As for Mao - can you name a single worthwhile painting, poem, or movie produced during his rule? Mao's rules for artists would have meant that your own work would never have seen the light of day in China, and more than likely would have earned you a spell in a labour camp.

3:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how does anyone know what the mangere community thought of AL's mural? the delegates who rejected were self-selected old men...

3:51 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

The art in Mao's time was the revolution itself and huge advances in the standard of living and the freedom of the peasants and others - and women by the way. Art as we know it doesn't really apply to critical revolutionary phases. Those who write anti-Mao etc are grovellers who wanted to escape to an easy life with good money often paid by the CIA (in the US etc)...

But you can forget Trotsky, I know he rodgered the Mexican artist Kahlo but as soon as he had have got power he would have hammered everyone...Trotsky was never to be trusted. His followers are good hearted, but are duped...

Dialectics is everything and I understand it well - you would do well to listen to the Polynesian people or you will come a gutser in Tonga. Art can lead but not leave. Science and art need to be for the people.

If it suited, I would destroy everything I have ever written.

Andy needs to listen to his own people. I suspect he is getting paid too much.

If I ask someone to paint my house blue and put a circle on the wall and they paint it purple and put square there - explaining that a purple house and a square is deeper and more meaningful than a circle (or that is what is done for the rich in NY and Paris), then we indeed need to have a discussion, and if we don't agree, there is no payment and the "artistic" work by the painter is excepted to be expunged.

I think anon has a good point here. Andy isn't looking so good on this one.

5:02 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Your defence of the absence of art in Maoist China sounds suspiciously like Heidegger's criticisms of philosophy during his short-lived but disastrous Nazi phase, Richard. Heidegger said the Nazi 'revolution' had removed the need for independent thought. He was wrong, and so are those who argue that individual creative thought wasn't necessary in China.

If you're going to allow church groups to censor publically-funded art, where will you draw the line? Recently a poster produced to advertise a play by a South Auckland educational institution had to be withdrawn because it was too 'risque' for local pastors. It showed a male naked from the waist up. That's where the sort of censorship which Andy Lelei suffered leads.

I look forward to you submitting your poems for correction and, if necessary, suppression by the Panmure branch of Destiny Church!

5:09 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"A revolutions isn't a tea party." Mao Tse Tung. Heidegger was a bunny beside Mao. For God sake Scott, your in your sixth year!

Tamaki - some of his Comrades are about 4 houses away...lol

I would like to exterminate them all but I'll put that on hold.

I'm not arguing that difficult or "offensive" art shouldn't be exhibited. The question here is really that of Rousseau's 'Social Contract.' In fact if anon - now the only thing that puzzles me is the anon-ness of anon - why are all these people anonymous? It could be one of Andy's old enemies or his cousin or grandfather or someone, or someone bitter at his success, a "rival" aspiring artist...hmmm...the question of art and socialism or society is several PhD's deep.

I'm pointing out in regard to Mao Tse Tung thought that interactive dialectics was the ideal of him and his (not his wife etc): like many of these things it didn't work but the ideas are important. China came so close to total Marxist revolution, then it declined. (But the Chinese R is ~= to the American in that it set up a republic and laid the foundations of a modern state..

Art that is exciting when people are creating a modern state from what had been basically a colony and a corrupt regime is different from what we would see (exciting or "good") art as. This problem is obscured by the complex of motives of those in this revolutionary situation. Most people for example could do without Picasso or McCahon or Shakespeare or most music - they might say, "we want to make our own art and music etc"...

But you are surely dodging anon's point - it seems he didn't take part in the dialect with his own community - he left for Paris and Big Money - no? [That is problem with art. Artists often become billionaires - when philosophy, morality, ethics and hence politics mattereth very little (in most cases, ceteris paribus)...[This doesn't mean the art is "bad" as it is also an almost insoluble question, that is: "What is art?"]

If Atenisi is too outre, it will always make little progress. Those in Atenisi, and artists (and scientists, philosophers etc) in general, need to work to interact with diverse opinions. They need the understanding and support of many of or a substantial % of the total people.

In Mangere, if anon is right, they wanted a, but got b - perhaps they could have negotiated*. If the reasons are naive, then the artists need to get back into the community and show why art is as it is or as many aspire it to be. Sometimes an artist is justified in ignoring or side-stepping the people: but not when they are paying.

*Let W be what 'they' all want or need (or is an optimum).
Let b be close as is practical at a certain time in terms of what they want or think they need.
Let a be an artist's sense of what is "needed". In the real world a (or b) are never quite = to W. Then:

b = W - a (and a = W - b)

So W = b + a

So if W is the synthesis, b or a could be the thesis and antithesis. This can change as time (and economic and or social things change) passes and ideas are debated etc
But this is sociological maths only! Don't take the differential of W!!

In a strange and complex way, Heidegger was also taking part in a revolution.

6:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'but not when they are paying'

they weren't paying. ASB and Creative NZ were.

6:47 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Your problem, Richard, is that you're trying, for whatever obscure psychological reasons, to defend a regime which would have detested and persecuted you. An avant-garde artist defending Mao's policy on the arts is like a Maori defending the National Front.

There was no room, in either Freiburg University under Heidegger's rectorship or Mao's China, for artists and intellectuals who didn't simply rebroadcast the opinions of the leader of the nation.

Here's a quote from Mao's famous Yenan address on art:

'The revolutionary struggle on the ideological and artistic fronts must be subordinate to the political struggle because only through politics can the needs of the class and the masses find expression in concentrated form. Revolutionary statesmen, the political specialists who know the science or art of revolutionary politics, are simply the leaders of millions upon millions of statesmen--the masses. Their [ie artists'] task is to collect the opinions of these mass statesmen, sift and refine them, and return them to the masses, who then take them and put them into practice.'

This is pretty unambiguous statement against the right of artists to free thought and free expression. They must confine themselves simply to recapitulating the opinions of the leaders of the Communist Party. And if artists try to do anything else, like use their imaginations or express their feelings, then they are serving the enemy, and deserve to be persecuted.

11:26 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

You mentioned Trotsky, and contrasted his views on art to those of Mao.

I wouldn't necessarily cite Trotsky as the greatest authority on modern art - for my money Herbert Marcuse's late work The Aesthetic Dimension is the greatest and subtlest Marxian study of art - but it is worth contrasting Trotsky's views on art with those of Mao's, to show how backward and intellectual bereft those of Mao were.

Here's a quote from 'Communist Policy toward Art', which was written when Trotsky was still part of the Soviet government:

'The Marxian method affords an opportunity to estimate the development of the new art, to trace all its sources, to help the most progressive tendencies by a critical illumination of the road, but it does not do more than that. Art must make its own way and by its own means. The Marxian methods are not the same as the artistic. The party leads the proletariat but not the historic processes of history. There are domains in which the party leads, directly and imperatively. There are domains in which it only cooperates. There are, finally, domains in which it only orients itself. The domain of art is not one in which the party is called upon to command. It can and must protect and help it, but it can only lead it indirectly. It can and must give the additional credit of its confidence to various art groups, which are striving sincerely to approach the revolution and so help an artistic formulation of the revolution. And at any rate, the party cannot and will not take the position of a literary circle which is struggling and merely competing with other literary circles.'

This position, which Trotsky recapitulates in his famous 1938 manifesto with Breton, is infinitely more sophisticated and infinitely more tolerant than Mao's
demand that artists reproduce his ideas or pay the consequences.

Trotsky is absolutely right when he argues that art must be allowed to pursue its own course freely, and that the communist party has no right to expect to set artistic policy.

Under Trotsky, you'd be free to write whatever you wanted; under Mao, you'd never be allowed to publish, and might well end up in prison or dead.

I do get the impression, though, that you don't wish you yourself had lived in Mao's China. You see his policy on the arts as suitable for Chinese people in the middle decades of the twentieth century, but not necessarily for you and me in 21st century New Zealand.
And here you echo the subtly patronising attitude of the anonymous contributor to this discussion, who can accept that Andy Lelei is a fine artist, but apparently doesn't think South Aucklanders are equipped to understand and enjoy him.

11:32 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Where is Troksty's revolution? He was a traitor.

Your statements are out of context. The Trotskyists are led by those who are trying to undermine the working class struggle. This is well known.

12:36 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

I think that Trotsky had something to do with the October revolution, Richard.

But forget about Trotsky and look at Lenin. He didn't understand the avant-garde movements of the 20th century in the way Trotsky learned to do, but he also had the view that the party should not direct art, and that artists should not be forced to rebroadcast the views of the party's leaders.

That's why, in the late teens and early twenties, so many avant-garde movements were able to flourish in Russia, and why very radical practitioners of art like Tatlin and Malevich ended up with major public commissions.

It was Stalin who forced artists to toe the party line and work in pre-modernist, mimetic forms. And Mao's Yenan speech, which became the cornerstone of China's arts policy,
takes the same view.

Under the arts policy followed by Lenin and Trotsky, you'd be free to publish your work, and might even get some public funding. Under Mao, you wouldn't be able to publish and would be liable to criminal prosecution.

I find it odd that you recommend Mao's policy on the arts, when it is so at variance to you own preferences and interests.

I think that if you took Mao's line on art seriously, then you'd be writing didactic poems about the greatness of the chairman, the justice of the contemporary struggles in, say, India and Nepal (and these struggles are important subjects, though I don't think they gain anything from a didactic treatment), and condemning decadent avant-garde trends like abstract art and poetry. But you don't do this, which akes mee feel that you don't really disagree with me about the undesirability of Mao's aesthetics.





7:28 am  
Anonymous Teleparker said...

Anonymous said...
Sorry. Poems rhyme. Better luck next time loser.

8:23 PM


poems don't have to rhyme, idiot.

1:41 pm  
Anonymous All praise to Chairman Bob said...

Maybe Richard Taylor is one of the members of the personality cult around the contemporary Maoist leader, Chairman Bob Avakian:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-oppenheimer/how-maoists-are-like-scie_b_83555.html

4:04 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

(I'm not a Maoist or even necessarily a Marxist.)

Re art etc I don't go in for worshiping of fallible idols -it the people who make history as in fact Mao said but he was probably echoing someone else - nothing wrong with that. Futa Helu also "echoed" others and I also think he was a great leader in his own way. I also value and admire Andy and his art (which I first saw in 1994/5 at his home) - don't get me wrong - there is just one issue here...

In contrast - if you read Mao tse Tung's writing (especially in the light of the long struggle against the Feudal and other reactionary or colonial forces and the Japanese occupations and the cooperation of the Kuomintang, and the real counter revolutionary - or Revisionist - nature of the USSR at that time) it is a brilliant policy on art and dealing with contradictions with and among the people.

Trotsky never had to deal with years of real struggle and war as Mao did.
And his statement on art is ambiguous and clumsy. Mao's urged in contrast a great (and subtle but clear) policy (his ideas) is a real Marxism in that he wanted the cadres to consult with the people (also to lead them in many ways), return, reformulate and so on -(that is theory-practice-theory and so on) there was no idea of forcing anyone to do anything (in the art area etc) - you are thinking of the reactionaries who destroyed Communism in China (and enabled capitalism throughout the world to leap ahead -to its doom perhaps) against Mao and his comrades' views) toward keeping things open if contradictions were non antagonistic (or not harmful to the people) ...that only also happened for few years after the Russian Revolution, and was gone before Lenin had died. Lenin knew he had to form a secret police. The Revolution has never reached "critical mass" (and Mao also shared the idea of permanent revolution).

11:17 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

You are confusing the issue here. You still haven't really replied to anonymous in any clear way (was Andy high handed and arrogant towards the Mangere people? [Personally I don't think so but I can’t know now - and I doubt it was really a big deal actually.] (Unfortunately we don't know who anonymous is) - if it an issue of religion or hurt feelings and there is no contractual obligation then Andy is good to go and as you see above (earlier posts) I am right behind him and his art - in China I would urge that this mural's (rightness or wrongness or its suitability or if all or most of the people wanted it)* be debated and put up -if however a majority felt not, so be it - but I would certainly urge it) - if anonymous is right - you are wrong. [If we can so easily differentiate those ideas! Mao -and indeed Trotsky were both always (and necessarily sometimes) using rhetoric.]

And had Trotsky been in Stalin's place all the words he spoke would mean nothing. He would face the same problems. He would form a secret police and buy time more time with a strong and militarist Germany.

Perhaps. Of course, Trotsky was greatly preferable to Stalin, who was not preferred even by Lenin. I have to admit I don't know a lot about Trotsky.

But none of these Marxists, in reality, are going to be (very much) on the side of art or literature (especially in critical periods of political transformation) - their aim is liberation or the building of a Socialist nation or world.

The kind of freedom for art etc you want, and I want (and as Andy seems to want) will and can only exist - it seems - inside a capitalist system (or possibly in some other future world- wide socialist system). Because the various revolutions have all failed. (This doesn't mean that Communism has "collapsed" - that is a nonsensical idea or phrase.)

*But whether my art would or would not be tolerated is not the issue. It isn't about me as such. Or, at any time, the same restraints etc are on art everywhere. Even science ideas - witness opposition to Darwinism in the US etc this is what happens in Socialistic or Capitalist societies. Or genetic research - I for example welcome the push for genetic modification to increase food production and for medical research etc (Use of stem cells in molecular biology).
But many even in NZ are rabidly trying to "suppress" scientists...do we let them have open slather?
And if I dare to suggest that say 9/11 might have been organized by the CIA etc I am attacked, and I have to be wary of what I say about rugby (I don't jest) - I may as well be taken out and executed for expressing my views - it is not much different. YOU suppress alternative views on NZ history for example. Trotsky - it seems for many that is all they have left. Mao is attacked continually. I DONT see him as some kind of SAINT - he fucked up as much as anyone else: Marx Mahomet, Lenin, Stalin and Jesus Christ included.

11:18 pm  
Anonymous mr corrector said...

'Trotsky never had to deal with years of real struggle and war'

err...didn't he command the red army that won a thing called the russian civil war and also fought against poland, uk etc?

someone's in lala land...

9:11 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes but we are comparing 20 or more years of a man who was WITH the people and shared the same hardships, was wounded, had been captured by the Japanese but escaped and much else. Trotsky, great as he may or may not have been as leader of the USSR didn't actually become that leader.
He becomes a legend for Trotskyists because he is now a kind of martyr.

I odnt see Mao as legend, but I don't join in the chorus of arm-chair declaimers against what he did achieve. I also criticized the CP of NZ who were Maoist and predicted that -like the USSR - China (to simplify) would "turn revisionist".

In theory at least those of Mao's thinking wanted the people to lead, and not for himself to become an "idol" or a dictator.

But the degeneration from the initial enthusiasms for social change seems inevitable. I was interested, not in some speech (all politicians give relatively meaningless speeches) by Trotsky or Lenin or Che or Mao but in the methods (ideas and practice) - some of the ideas in fact were shared. The idea of perpetual revolution etc.

In microcosm there is some parallel with the people of Mangere IF it is true then the method is to listen to the people (their needs etc).

But if there was no "brief" so to speak the situation is different.

Added to this is we still don't know who is debating - who is anonymous.

I think this Blog is too important for Maps to allow anonymous comments.
Comments by those who haven't got the guts to say who they are should be suppressed completely.

3:10 pm  
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10:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger Fowler was shown the visual plans for the mural prior to it being painted. He agreed to everything before the work began. When the artist finished for the day Roger would take us into the shed where the work was kept and rant about it being evil and destructive for the community. Roger didn't like the new mural but had agreed to it so he set up the artist to look like the bad guy. A voting system was held for the community to voice their concerns but Roger had already lobbied us to vote against it.

5:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary Autagavaia and Niu Zila are chickenshit shitfaces

9:20 am  

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