Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2 bits - Ken Kesey on the function of the artist ...

[...] from Shakespeare [...] get an audience [...] he went around in front of them and he'd grab them by the ears and he'd say,
— you listen to me!
That's what the artists have to do. There in public. Otherwise you'll be watching MTV and reading Ditmer's guide and drinking CocaCola. As I've often told Ginsberg, you can't blame the president for the state of the country. It's always the poet's fault. You can't expect politicians to come up with a vision. They don't have it in them. The poets have to come up with a vision and they have to turn it on so that it sparks ... and catches on.

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What's the job [...] of the writer in contemporary America?
Right now.
Hmm. I'm not sure.
But here I'll give you an example[...]

You're gonna be walking along one day and suddenly there's gonna be a light. You're gonna look across the street, and on the corner over there, God is gonna be standing there.
And you're gonna know it's God because it's gonna have this beautiful curly hair that sticks up through his halo like Jesus. He's got little slitty eyes like Buddha. He's got a lot of swords in his belt like Mohammed.

And he's saying:
— Come . . . . to me.
— Come across the street to me.
— O, come to me.
— I will have the muses whisper in your ear. You will be the greatest writer. You will be better than Shakespeare.
— They will have melon breasts and blackberry nipples.
— Come to me.
— All you have to do is say my praises.

The writers job is to say:
— Fuck you, God! Fuck you!
— Fuck you! Fuck you!

'Cause nobody else is going to say it. Our politicians aren't going to say it. Nobody but the writer is going to say it. There's a time in history when it's time to praise God, but now is not the time. Now is the time to say:
— Fuck you!
— I don't care who your daddy was! Fuck you.

... and get back our job of writing.

24th October 1989
at a Reality Club presentation