“Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.”

Two items of note in the 10/17 January issue of The Nation:

-The artist Philip Guston wrote “I believe it was John Cage who once told me, ‘When you start working, everybody is in your studio—the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas—all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.”  (Quoted in a book review by Barry Schwabsky)

-“WikiLeaks is revealing information citizens need to know—it’s a good thing. Assange may or may not have committed sex crimes according to Swedish law. Why is it so hard to hold those two ideas at once?” (Katha Pollitt)

Maybe Guston could have answered Pollitt’s question.  When you start thinking politically, everybody is in the debate in your head- the past, our friends, enemies, the televised world, and above all, your own ideas about authority- all are there.  But as you continue  thinking, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone.  Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave.  Maybe an artwork takes on a personality of its own, independent of all those other personalities, and so too an understanding of politics takes on an independent personality too.  Once you get to that point, Assange can be a villainous cad or an object of persecution or a bit of both, and the Wikileaks revelations can stand on their own regardless.

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