Last week, our own Ken Thomas
suggested that Obama was, at heart, an artist--albeit a "postmodern" sort of artist. In the same vein, Jonah Goldberg
today suggests that Obama is a kind of postmodern poet (which as he argues, is but another way of saying a "bad" poet). This is to say that Obama's work is all about self-creation or self-invention. His is not a work of discovery, explication and wonder. It does not partake in the sort of humility that inspires wonder--let alone an ode. It is more about his earnest and heartfelt feelings--the strength and sincerity (or, as they say, the "authenticity") of his own internal passions. His art is not intended to smooth over the edges of the gaps between the known and the unknown in order to make the whole congeal in a meaningful and insightful way for our simple human brains. Rather, it creates wholes altogether their own--complete and precise from top to bottom--with no room for fudging or fuzziness because, well, they are so sincere
. And how do you argue with a feeling unless you are, well, unfeeling? It is, as Obama himself asserts, audacious. Indeed. And, perhaps, it is audacious for the sake of audacity itself.
I would suggest, however, that if Obama is an artist and if his art sells, he will be the "last artist." And this may explain both his audacity and his growing sense of urgency in the face of even half-hearted push-backs from Republicans. If Obama succeeds there will be no room for any genuine poetry in politics because there will be no room for any genuine discovery or wonder. There is already very little room for humility--leave alone citizenship. Experts will be consulted and experts will testify. Experts will then create the best regime and leave the cynics (and the citizens) who will not embrace their expertise behind. His poetry will become our dogma because it will come from that source which is, above all others, beyond question in this post-modern world: the heart. It will be an affirmation and a testament to victory of passion over reason--even as it wears a mask that it calls "science." The argument against any future competing art will be that it is heartless. And, with that standard as the yardstick, the argument will be fair and opponents, speechless.
On the other hand, the success of the last artist will unleash an age where everything is art and everyone imagines himself to be an artist. Of course, when everything is art, the truth is that nothing is. When everyone is an artist, no one is. All "art" will be but pallid imitation--which, of course is what even the best of real art, ultimately, always is. The difference will be in the degree of brilliancy that is the source of the art. In this case, we will have but a copy of a copy . . . and, I'm afraid, a poor copy, at that.