Society and art

Rather predictably, I have done no work at all on the play I mentioned in the last post. If I was being charitable to myself, I would point out that I am rather busy at the moment, considering I just completed my participation in a production of Romeo and Juliet, but am still in rehearsal for two singing performances and a sketch I am directing, and this week I need to write two essays and a dissertation proposal. Alongside this, I have started writing poetry again (more on this in future entires), so my creative writing hasn’t entirely tailed off. Further, I could argue that the play is still in planning stages. Nevertheless, I am rarely charitable to myself.

However, I have been thinking about the creative impulse lately. Indeed, i probably think about why I write more than I do. I have always been sure, though, that it is for myself rather than other people, yet I only manage it regularly when I know it’s going to be read (hence, I was most prolific when part of a creative writing club in high school, and most of my efforts recently have been dramatic sketches which I know will be performed). This is paradoxical, of course, but seems accurate as a base to begin from. If I am creating things for other people, then, one has to wonder about the function of the work – the effect you wish to have on the reader – and because of this, I am considering a mode of writing I have previously dismissed in its entirety.


There is always bad news in the world, but I only occasionally pay attention to it. I have come across a few things in recent weeks which have made me pause – for example, which advocates boycotting the coffee chain for their support of gay marriage. On a different link I came across on Facebook, someone commented that America was heading down ‘a dark path’, and I have avoided the budget and NHS Bill in their entirety because I know they will upset me.

What has struck me though about these events is that I never fully considered that values, simple universal principles I subscribe to seem so alien to so much of the world. Equality, care, love – these don’t seem like political points, being fundamental to me as a person, but they are. Alongside this, my Critical Theory course, particularly the Feminist and Queer Theory components have reaffirmed and strengthened my approach towards female and LGBTQ issues, and my module on Satire to Sensibility has shown the social function of art.

This makes me feel as if I should express my political beliefs in my art. I have conflicting feelings about this. The idea was certainly seeded by the Leftfield In Motion tour, which had a punk ethos and championed new political artmaking. However, I can’t help but recoil at the thought of making political art – even the term makes me pause. I do think the best art is personal. Further, I can’t help but be personal in my writing – see this entry, for instance, and how many instances of personal pronouns are in it.

However, I do think political discourse should become part of my artistic toolbox, as it were. If it springs from personal feeling rather than proselytising, and feels natural within the work, surely an advocation of core principles will further affect the audience. I take inspiration from, curiously enough, The Rocky Horror Show, which manages to be a fun and engaging work while still conveying a libertarian and accepting ethos. Even if you don’t subscribe to the belief, if the art is strong enough you can readily ignore it – see the song ‘Science’ by System of a Down.

I won’t conclude this thought not only because I’m running way too long, but also because the thought itself is ongoing. I suppose only the work I produce will show where this line of thought ends up. Next post, poetry probably, because that’s another thing on my mind.