Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts of activism
Kamarck, Edward L.
Editorial comment: on winning friends and influencing people PDF (1.7 MB)
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, University 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 wife, 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 assistance: Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Walter Lowenfels, Claude P6lieu, Charles Plymell, Jennie Orvino, and his wife Barbara. INTRODUCTION TO THE ARTS OF ACTIVISM The Arts of Activism have assaulted De Gaulle's Paris, Mayor Daley's Convention City, 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 drama which continues to unfold, sometimes with comic effects but always with tragic undertones. In REVOLUTION FOR THE HELL OF IT, Yippie Abbie Hoffman wrote, "We are theater 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 is 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 constructs 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 powers and young nations, is the mysterious struggle of each person for self-realization in a free community with others. For countless young Americans, demonstrations against war, racism, poverty, and academic irrelevancies have been rites of passage from conventional families into a world wide counter-culture. Military-industrial complexes- 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 old 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 political than cultural and spiritual. Middle-aged radicals and liberals are as baffled and annoyed as conservatives by the antics of Provos, Diggers, and Hippies whose politics are anti-political and who are more anarchistic than Bakunin and Kropotkin.