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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts of activism

Gibson, Morgan
Editorial comment: introduction to the arts of activism PDF (2.4 MB)

Guest editor of this issue is Morgan Gibson, of the Department of English,
of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Mr. Gibson is a poet, and a critic and teacher
of poetry.
A collection of his poetry, MAYORS OF MARBLE, appeared in 1966. With his
Barbara, he published a joint collection, OUR BEDROOM'S UNDERGROUND, 1963.
His individual poems have appeared in a number of journals in this country
and abroad.
He is now completing a critical study of Kenneth Rexroth.
Mr. Gibson gives special thanks to the following for editorial advice and
Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Walter Lowenfels, Claude P6lieu, Charles Plymell,
Jennie Orvino, and his wife Barbara.
The Arts of Activism have assaulted De Gaulle's Paris, Mayor Daley's Convention
Watts and Harlem, Saigon and Peking, Berkeley and Madison, the Pentagon and
Russian tanks in Prague. By the time this issue is published, what new demonstrations,
confrontations, revolts will enlarge the epic drama in which all of us, like
it or not,
participate? "The whole world is watching," the Yippies shouted
in Chicago as
police clubbed them; and watching or marching, everyone participated in a
which continues to unfold, sometimes with comic effects but always with tragic
In REVOLUTION FOR THE HELL OF IT, Yippie Abbie Hoffman wrote, "We are
in the streets: total and committed. We aim to involve people and use (unlike
other movements locked in ideology) any weapon (prop) we can find. The aim
not to earn the respect, admiration, and love of everybody - it's to get
people to do,
to participate, whether positively or negatively. All is relevant, only 'the
play's the thing.'
"Guerrilla theater," he continues, "is only a transitional
step in the direction of
total life-actors. Life-actors never rehearse and need no script." Even
the television
viewer, far from being passive or isolated, "makes up what's going on
in the streets.
He creates the Yippies, cops, and other participants in his own image. He
his own play." More obviously now than in Shakespeare's time, then,
"all the world's
a stage" on which everyone performs the drama that he helps create.
Underlying the obvious agony between old and young, rich and poor, great
and young nations, is the mysterious struggle of each person for self-realization
in a
free community with others. For countless young Americans, demonstrations
war, racism, poverty, and academic irrelevancies have been rites of passage
conventional families into a world wide counter-culture. Military-industrial
whether capitalistic or communistic, democratic or totalitarian - rest on
the puritan
work-ethic, in which life is a continual self-sacrifice for future benefits.
Current youth
revolt, on the other hand, celebrates life, here and now. The spirit of the
civil rights slogan, "Freedom Now!", has been expanded into Love
Now, Live Now,
Revolution Now. Though "National Liberation," "Black Power,"
and "Student Power"
are important slogans, the American movement seems, at present, to be less
than cultural and spiritual. Middle-aged radicals and liberals are as baffled
annoyed as conservatives by the antics of Provos, Diggers, and Hippies whose
are anti-political and who are more anarchistic than Bakunin and Kropotkin.

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