A return to seriousness is not a mandate on aesthetics. Aesthetics have nothing to do with it. That we will continue to disagree, disparage, and neglect each other on the basis of aesthetics reflect the inextricable part of one’s own identity as a being who values by judgment and segmentation. This surface segmentation is inevitable. But aesthetic judgment must never be allowed to operate as a mask that hides a deeper belief in social divisions and segmentation. We must not allow aesthetics judgments speak for binaries and dualities. That an artistic work appears, that it is human-made and is, is all the requirement needed for serious consideration.
On election night we entered into a new era. We must now recognize our differences and regard them seriously if we want difference to continue. We must discipline ourselves to be serious. There is no activation without a revolutionary discipline. That is where the responsibility of the artist now begins. That we must reinstall it through praxis and faith is our mandate. We begin by taking each other and ourselves deadly serious.
Brian Foley is a poet and critical theorist living in Denver. His latest book is The Constitution, available from Black Ocean Books.