Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 6. Tuesday, June 4, 1963
Strike a Balance
Strike a Balance
Sir,—As I felt that some very astute observations were made in R.G.L.'s editorial "Strike Balance." may I question some criticisms of the same by M. C Rowlands.
Firstly, Rowlands connects "indissolubly . . . a complete and organised method of protest and artistic expression," meaning that the artist must necessarily be a rebel in some form or another, particularly as a student.
I think this is untrue, and an indication that he does not, perhaps, understand the basic function of the artist, which is surely, to have a profound sensitivity and awareness of the world about him and to transmute the ethos or quintessance of this into the form in which he is peculiarly skilled—, this business of "heightened consciousness," I suppose. The artist may violently rebel against his social, religious or political ambience, but on the other hand he may paint, compose, or write quite happily within the accepted social structure, with possibly that anonymity, so despised by D. Billing.
We are all familiar with the status symbol of duffle coat, beard and black jersey without shirt, together with the slightly fey and abstracted air. A harmless form of social protest, and no doubt there have been and still are genuine artists exhibiting this expression of non-conformity. But, and here is the crux of the matter, this is a manifestation of something coming from within, in the genuine case, whereas many of these people have adopted the external happenings, as it were, I without the artist's vision or gifts.
The genuine devotee is rarely found among the poisonous cynicism of the mid-cult and I am always suspicious of those who vociferously proclaim their artistry from the rooftops, particularly when accompanied by a shoddy technique.
Rowlands also correlates "that amorphous thing—the beautiful" with the "pretty boys" who seek after it—making "pretty" synonymous with beautiful.
With a little reading and thinking on aesthetics he would discover that beauty means a great deal more than pretty, in the sense in which he uses it. While there are artists seeking to create the truly beautiful, the inference that this means "Ode to a Skylark" or Sankey's hymns, is nonsense.
The peroration, as Baxter has it—"For some artists, it is necessary to act. to explode and to vituperate . . ." A truism, no doubt, but my grouch is directed against the 90 per cent of these explosions which are nothing more than the effusions of pretentious and effete poseurs.