There is a Russian saying that proclaims “In Russia, a poet is more than a poet.” Many intellectual discussions in Russia cite the opinions of great writers as justification and argument extending their authority beyond the artistic into moral and political spheres. I can recall conversations with my grandmother where an argument deals a blow with a claim beginning with “Knowing what Pushkin says about the unruliness of a Russian peasant uprising, how can you say the means weren’t justified?” Artists possess insight not available to most and the public believed this insight extends to the larger world. Incidentally my special lady friend tells me that Muslim societies often placed a similar amount of significance on the words of their poets.
In America today artists often find sanctuary in the cowardly belief that they are simply entertainers and have neither obligation nor authority to speak of matters unconnected to their craft. Sadly, award shows, public appearances, and other opportunities for expression have become events where political statements are considered out of place. In our present times though any one that acquiesces to merely grin idiotically and thank this sunny world for being so good should missing a great opportunity. I am not suggesting that artists take on the role of religious gurus, but every rational human should express an opinion in situations of great importance. Looking at the spectacle of black smoke over Baghdad it is irresponsible to simply be silent; to pretend that the war takes place in a different sphere of existence; to dodge the issue when one has influence. Although in America a poet is most often simply a poet, artists are nonetheless given the gift of influence and can’t leave such a gift unopened. During the Grammys Fred Durst spoke out against the war. Though I have no respect for his music, I respect his realization that by speaking out publicly he probably changed the minds of 17 pimply Limp Bizkit fans. Many claim that this is exploitation of people’s gullibility. I disagree. Fred Durst’s statement or Nas’ chant of “Fuck George Bush” during his show last week are explicitly subjective statements whereas the mass media assumes a stance of objectivity to exploit the public by turning forgeries into facts or replaying the same images, as if repetition turns them into authentic representations of an entire nation. Surrounded by such “truthful representation” it is the duty of any intelligent human being to sabotage this objectivity whenever opportunity presents itself. To win, one pimply faced fan at a time. Peace, “the dark horse”
Archived article by Maxim Pozdorovkin