Statement
 
2004. Leap year, Election year. Year of the Monkey. Whatever else the prognosticators and soothsayers say about our forward march into this new millennium, one thing seems certain—the pronoun our has more cache that it ever has before. American troops in Iraq, Pokemon in the pockets of Irish immigrants in Sioux City, sites online where you can mail-order a kit to fabricate an authentic Irish pub, new publicity that Yao Ming, the seven-foot-five inch Chinese center who plays basketball for the Houston Rockets, is the new spokesman for McDonald’s, the fast food chain represented in over ninety percent of the world including Serbia and Saudi Arabia, even a “barber shop and beauty salon run by Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown & Root” in the Green Zone, a sprawl in the middle of Baghdad. Globalism as something more than a concept has achieved critical mass, and whether what’s being imported and exported is relevant or compassionate, inclusive or genuinely diverse, is not for us to say—it’s enough that we see the world reflected around us, that we can visit more countries, that we can enjoy a pint of traditional Irish stout from the comfort of our own home. And so our world hurtles forward, spanning broadband and bandstands, spinning at roughly the same rate it always has, take a few ten-thousandths of a second, growing simultaneously more global and more commercial, moving beyond the pale of good and evil, except in politicians’ rhetoric, into something flashier and fleshier, longer-lasting yet more superficial. In the wake of this hypnotic gyration we offer the next issue of Drunken Boat.

Norman Mailer, an interview with whom we feature in this issue, is a true iconoclast and perhaps one of the best exemplars of how we might navigate the protean, ever more international waters we find ourselves in. As he wrote in his seminal work, “Advertisements for Myself,” presaging Pop Art and corporate branding, “I become an actor, a quick-change artist, as if I can trap the Prince of Truth in the act of switching a style”; so, as America underwent its own convulsive changes from decade to decade, Mailer tried his hand at a variety of genres, from novels to screenplays, poems to “new journalism,” adopting guise after guise, even running for mayor of New York, and incurring the wrath of faction after faction in the process, yet never swerving from his object, the Prince of Truth, whom, it must be said, is more djinn than royalty, a wispy, ephemeral figure that takes the shape smoke makes and even that only for a moment. Still, as any avid hunter will tell you, fulfillment lies in the chase, and few writers of the last century have quarried their prey with the fervor and intensity of Mailer. Now, having entered his eighty-first year, Mailer remains a feisty commentator on what’s happening in the world. “Use of language is dangerous when there is no respect for it,” he proclaimed in a recent interview with an editor of the in the St. Petersburg Times, “what characterizes the Bush administration is their prodigious disrespect for it. As I once had a character say in a novel, you can’t stop a man who’s never been embarrassed by himself. And that’s George W. Bush. He looks upon the language as a tool. It’s a good mallet and chisel to cut into the sentimental needs of the American public who come around like hound dogs to certain words, like patriotism, America, flag and security. I always say that America is the real religion of this country.”

The rest of Issue #6 is devoted to new works from some of the most promising and influential artists from around world in poetry, photography, prose, web art, cybertext, video, and sound art. To abide in their creations, which traverse the range from vast interactivity to compressed rumination to multiple trajectories in between and beyond, is to feel the sense that, contrary to the prevalent version of globalism that feels more like hostile takeover than harmonic interaction, there are shoots of vital communication stirring, tendrils that have roots embedded deep in the soil of our shared history, in the community an authentic work of art makes with every other authentic work, something timeless and enduring. It is the historical sense T.S. Eliot referred to in his essay Tradition and the Individual Talent, that which “compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order,” except that we, being his global progeny, would make that he a (s)he, would turn writing into a subset of expression, would amplify the whole of European literature so that it encompasses the world and the arts, would trace our lineage not just from Homer, but from Sappho and Rumi. Jean Genet, Frida Kahlo, Gerhard Richter, Gertrude Stein, Emma Goldman, Joseph Bueys, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Duchamp, not to mention the vast multitude of other creators who’ve left an indelible mark on our perceptions. This latest issue is our contribution to the ongoing discussion of how art in its many forms impinges on us and helps to shape our world.

-Editors, Drunken Boat



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