Wednesday, July 11, 2007

R. Mutt for President

I'm a bit late to this party (see earlier posts at Emvergeoning [via Tyler] and Obsidian Wings) but Crispin Sartwell's review, if you will, of former Senator Mike Gravel's (D-Alaska) conceptual YouTube "campaign ads" (he's running for President, if you haven't heard) is simply too delightful not to pass along:

[A]s Americans we all owe a debt of aesthetic gratitude to the genius of former senator and current Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who has taken the pabulum and kitsch that is our political art and transcended it — swept it up, summarized it and broken through it into a new range of possibilities. Mike Gravel is to political advertising what Ralph Waldo Emerson is to the essay, Walt Whitman to poetry, Jackson Pollock to painting, 50 Cent to bullet wounds. He is the avant garde of the new artpolitical era.
"Huh?" you ask.

Gravel was not even on my radar as a candidate until these ads began to gain attention. Now I think he might be some sort of messiah.

The medium of Gravel's genius is YouTube, but he ought to be on every cable network and broadcast channel in the country. In one ad, he appears in front of a pond. He stares at the camera for about a minute, just squints at us all, confronting us with the very essence of human existence. His silence, it emerges on a careful listening, is infinitely more expressive than the words of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and is a bolder and more precise formulation of policy initiatives. Then Gravel picks up a rock and throws it into the pond. Then he walks slowly away.

In another ad, Gravel gathers firewood. Then for about seven minutes we simply watch a fire burning.
Decide for yourself:

ROCK


FIRE


Gravel explains the Rock video (which is actually the work of professors/artists Matt Mayes and Guston Sondin-Klausner) here



What I like the most about Gravel in this interview is his honesty in giving credit to Mayes and Sondin-Klausner, his genuine appreciation of their art (and his ability to distinguish it from his own political statements, meaning he's in it to be taken seriously), and his very accessible discussion of metaphor and why it's OK for folks to interpret these pieces in different ways. He comes across as more than a little brilliant. His call for spontaneity and creativity in American people in response to our current political circumstances is inspiring. Is it too soon to say I love Mike Gravel?

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7 Comments:

Blogger Mark Creegan said...

ooo! I am giddy as giddy can bee! As the fire one started I thought the train or boat? sounds were music and I thought oh no! Thank goodness it wasnt --its just so much more powerful without some overwrought music. I am certainly smitten!

7/11/2007 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gravel is the best. I assume you haven't been watching the Democratic debates as he has stolen all of them. Like Ron Paul with the Republicans, he is honest and direct.

He won me over at one of the first Dem debates when he looked at the other candidates and said 'Some of these people scare me', how could such slaves to the military-industrial complex of this country not?

7/11/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I've been trying to catch as much of the debates online as I can anonymous (cause I seem to be otherwise engaged when they're on TV). I have to admit that it's a bit jarring at first to hear Paul and Gravel breaking with the standard political sound-bite posturing (it does indeed make them seem a bit nuts at first), but there's very little that either of them is actually saying that I find anywhere near as offensive as how much the others seem to think they can continue to bamboozle us with the usual hollow rhetoric. If the election were today, I'd vote for either of them who was running.

7/11/2007 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edward_: don't vote for Ron Paul. Really. Don't.

-- hilzoy

7/11/2007 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Yikes! Thanks for the warning, Hilzoy. Paul does indeed come across as relatively harmless until you hear the details. I retract that previous statement.

Speaking of warnings, though, you could have given me notice that that site had a photo of a rather menacing looking whale on it!

7/11/2007 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

im scared - what if we elect this Gravel guy? I think its hopelessly naive to think that he will represent our business interests adequately abroad. He looks just like another Jimmy Carter! My god people, we need the hawks to guard the lambs - and Gravel is a lamb!!!!

7/11/2007 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

A lamb huh?
Think again!

7/13/2007 01:57:00 AM  

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