Tolstoy and the Baxter

Immediately i want to say that the event in the Baxter Concert Hall (Cape Town, 18 September) was a success. The gamble to take the responsibility for a major public venue paid off. I was really helped a lot by Grove Primary and the efforts of Denise Fiveash in this, but then also by a whole number of regular supporters who pulled in to build the audience. No exact numbers, but between three and four hundred (my estimate!).

On stage, the performance flowed as i like it best: me carrying the thrust of the action and facilitating the space so that the guest performers can come in and out as appropriate in the moment. The spontaneous choir from the audience also panned out well! To allow for donations afterwards in stead of a fixed entrance fee, fitted the spontaneous spirit of a HA! event and the response was well enough to carry all expenses AND honouring the participants as well as my own efforts. To all a BIG THANK YOU! The experience emboldened me significantly to move more definitely forward in terms of establishing independent events where the size and quality of the HA!network justifies it.

So! Onwards to making sense and making use of some social network sites and streamlining my way of communicating with you all. To make commune!

I am currently reading Tolstoy’s ideas on “What is Art” and his sentiments is exactly this, that art becomes art when when feeling is communicated, when community is built. To define art merely in terms of beauty or pleasure (entertainment) is insufficient, even debilitating. For true feeling is locked out from it, like nutrition is locked out of certain foodstuffs we find on our shelves. When true feeling is shared, we connect. We flow together. HA!.. You know what i mean? I mean you feel what i mean? HA!

Ignoring feelings never succeed in the long run anyway. Isn’t that what the recent strikes in both France and South Africa was all about? Feelings pouring out onto the streets. Some insightful commentaries made me realize how the surface triggers (like wages and retirement ages) are only that: surface triggers. The deeper thrust of these outbursts is of ordinary people feeling locked out as governments spend billions to bail out banks and big business and to put up expensive sports extravaganzas, but when it comes to rewarding the backbone working class the belt gets tightened. All this against the background where the gap between rich and poor is widening at an alarming rate. Tolstoy would translate this as a process where the rich becomes impoverished in terms of true feeling and even develop a fear against feeling, building more and more defences (helped by governments, fearing the failure of the rich), transferring the burden of real feeling on the bottom layers of society who then at some point explodes – to the point of anarchy.

True art (creativity) cannot function where feeling is absent, nor where it is rendered raw and uncontrollable. So let us strengthen any HA!-type art – where true feeling is shared – so that the rich can be touched and the poor can be relieved. We will never all be the same and evenly wealthy. But we can commune better. Much better than we do today.

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