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Art for a New Century

Updated: 2 days ago

This is an excerpt from the new novel I'm working on, Blood of the Sun...


For a moment, Freud’s face becomes a mirror reflecting the 20th century.

“Everything we are is inside us,” he says. “The whole human race, from that moment when we first apprehended the sky. We look out from a precarious present to a future where all problems will be solved, as we flee from a past where all problems are born. A hundred years ago, you would've been amazed! The world, a new Renaissance where Science and the Arts and freedom of thought were going to bring us into a new age. But…” Another cloud of smoke as his face grows darker, almost ashen. “It just wasn't what we thought it would be. But when is it ever, right? And that's where the answer lies.”

    “The answer?”

   “Memory, Jack. What separates us from the brutes. Memory, which leads to reflection, which leads to despair, which leads to hope. Our way out of the Labyrinth. We've created this world, such as it is…” He motions to the newspaper headlines. “We've created it all from memory, and you hold the key.”

    “To what?”

  “Oh, I don't know.” Freud playfully shrugs. “Salvation?… But what do I know? I'm only the father of modern Psychology. They thought it would be Science that would save us. But it's the artists, Jack. The writers, like yourself.”

   “Okay, but what if words no longer have meaning? What if no one cares enough anymore to make a difference?”

“Fuck that shit!”

Huh?

Still, the artists must lead the way!”

    “To what?”

    “What. Where. Who.” Freud shakes his head. “What if we've reached the point where even the most profound truths are lost on the assembly line? So it’s back to the artists! Imagine them all refusing to be part of the Bad Infinity. To use your friend's phrase.”

    “So what, they just stop?

  “Like burning a field to make way for new growth. And this will be their art,” Freud says. “The art of a new Millennium. Perhaps this is all that's left to say.”

    “What, nothing?

  “An art of abstinence and denial. A refusal to participate in the problem, just for the sake of transient gain and superficial approbation. And there will be a period where nothing is created. And the void left by the artists will be filled by those who shovel dirt into holes, and this will be praised.”

    “So artists dig holes?”

  “The real ones! Holes that ache to be filled. Holes that let our humanity rise. Holes that allow our souls to be born. And there'll be a time of all-embracing silence amidst the deafening clamor. When art will be a prayer and a space created to allow the sacred. And this might last for generations. For a century even before something new can be said.”

    “Let us hush this cry of progress for ten thousand years.”

    “Now you're getting it.”

    “So…”

  “Like a blade of grass pushing its way through concrete,” Freud says, punctuated with a last lenticular cloud of cigar smoke. “Life, Jack… It finds a way.” He checks his watch. “Oops! Looks like our time is up.”



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—copyright 2019, 2020, 2021 by Kevin Postupack, Kevin Kunundrum