Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So little time to get the right words out.

In 1987, J.M Coetzee’s revealing acceptance speech for the Jerusalem Prize concluded with the observation (however dated, or ageless) that in South Africa there is “too much truth for art to hold, truth by the bucketful, truth that overwhelms and swamps every act of the imagination.”

It’s not 1987 anymore. Yet those whose eloquence allows them a soapbox of commentary on the arts are still quick to denigrate (and dismiss, or even miss entirely) the evolution of truth and expression in the arts. Especially in the realm of music.

Music’s impact on our subcultures and societies is subtle, vast and uncounted. It struggles along with the rest of us, for a place to live, and breathe, and have its being. It comments on our lives, our histories, and prays for our souls. And of course our bodies. And it is an increasingly insightful yardstick for the distance we’ve come from ignorance and anger. If you want to find out what’s on the hearts and minds of diverse individuals, there’s an abundance of outspoken bands expressing the undercurrents of subcultures and supercultures in their melodies, beats and lyrics.

A caution to the critics of music slating emerging sounds with popular sensibilities : have you noticed lately how very much we need music that makes us feel good and helps us forget our hang-ups and fears? A disgrace, if you haven’t. A failure of love. (To paraphrase the lauded literate)

And who are “we”? you’re asking.

We are South Africa. Fraught and fractured, hopeful and heavy hearted. We who rest our heads on broken promises.

Who are you?

No comments:

Post a Comment