Drawing a blank

Today is tremendously exciting for me and other Americans in Ireland who’ve been watching the US election closely. We can only hope that as the curtain falls today on one political legacy, a new, energised, more thoughtful and just one will rise to take its place. And hopefully one with a better sense of rhythm…

In honour of the day, some thoughts from leading Americans in the arts on the cultural legacy of the Bush administration:

Paul Auster – Author

I’m hard-pressed to think of a single thing the Bush administration has done to promote the arts. Things have gone on as before: novelists are writing books, people read them or don’t read them, movies are being made and people go or don’t go, artists are painting pictures, people are making music. I don’t see that the Bush people have affected the cultural landscape that much.

These past eight years have been about the worst that I can imagine. For the first time as a writer I’ve addressed, here and there, the situation that we’re living through. I’d never done that before and I guess because I’ve been so alarmed, so distraught, the pressure of this unhappiness has spilled over into my work at times.

If McCain wins, I feel like going into a cellar for the next four years or going out in the streets every day and screaming. Obama, if he does win, is going to have so many problems to deal with that the most one could hope for would be to undo some of the damage. Most artists seem to be for Obama. In fact, I haven’t met a single one who is for McCain, so our spirits would be lifted. The problems in the country will remain as serious as ever.

Art isn’t journalism. Some of the greatest historical novels were written long after the events discussed in the book. You think of War and Peace, written in 1870 about things that happened in 1812. I think there’s this confusion in the minds of the public that artists are supposed to respond immediately to things that are going on. We’ve been living through a new era. Everyone knows the world has changed, but exactly where the story is taking us is unclear right now and until it plays out further I don’t know if anyone has a clear vision of what’s happening.

(read other reflections on the Guardian website)

p.s. if you can, GO VOTE!

Brave new world…

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