Broadening the reader’s perspective is Wilde’s
great gift, and thanks to it I’ve come to realize
just how shallowly I’ve judged George W. Bush
over the past few months. On finishing the Irish rogue’s
short treatise “The Decay of Lying” I
quickly discerned that our President was hardly the
sniggering and inept buffoon I had thought him to
be, but was actually an artist of staggering proportions,
who thankfully was granted another four years to complete
Before picking up Wilde, I had long forgotten Plato’s
musings on the proximity of poetry and duplicity,
about how the artist and the liar are inseparable
lovers. It’s something that we’re all
aware of when growing up and full of piss and vinegar,
i.e. daring imagination, but then we get suckered
in by the fact mongers, and before you know it, the
world’s got posers like Damien Hirst passing
off dismembered calves in formaldehyde as high art.
Wilde presaged the crass inevitability this way:
“Many a young man starts in life with a natural
gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial
and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation
of the best models, might grow into something great
and wonderful. But as a rule, he comes to nothing.
He either falls into careless habits of accuracy,
or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and
the well informed…if something cannot be done
to check, or at least modify, our monstrous worship
of facts, Art will become sterile, and Beauty will
pass away from the land.”
And fly away she did, until the Artist known as W
cooed her back to the garden. No devotee of exactitude,
W has never been one to auction his noble birthright
to a hideous mess of facts. We’ve got the Skull
and Bones fraternity and Poppy’s tutelage to
thank for that. Unlike dreary politicians who never
soar above the level of misrepresentation (and actually
condescend to argue, prove, and discuss), W flaunts
the temper of a true liar, with his frank, fearless
statements, his superb irresponsibility, his healthy,
natural disdain for proof of any kind…Weapons
of Mass Destruction? Who cares! Osama Bin Laden? Not
my concern, anymore! Budget Deficits? No big deal!
New York Times Report? Don’t read newspapers!
Protect the Borders? Manana, Manana!
How damn refreshing! Only artistic genius like W
could have realized how unhealthy a thing like thinking
is to the average “red” blooded American,
who eschews prickly thoughts as the bulwark of their
happiness. Yet at the same time he also understood
that we wretches longed to be inspired, lifted up
upon the cloudy mounts of Olympus, or (failing that)
the Father’s mansion with many rooms. Not one
to be suckered in by that bogus dictum about Art imitating
Life, W took the rough material of life and refashioned
it to his fancy. Absolutely indifferent to nettlesome
facts, he and his Arts administration invented, dreamed,
and imagined. The ancient sandscape of Iraq was their
canvas and parchment, her flesh and blood their pigments
As a masterpiece in progress, it was a no-brainer.
Life has always followed W’s whims, not the
other way a round. And he knew why (thanks to the
pillow talk of his personal librarian, Laura). Undoubtedly
it was bookish First Lady who taught W that Art doesn’t
copy Life but anticipates it, molds it to its purpose.
And just as Goethe’s Werther, a figment of an
artist’s imagination, inspired young men of
the 19th century to commit suicide, W’s fans
could be relied on to play their part, to follow his
war fiction to their own final 21st century curtain.
Meanwhile the audience at home would be wooed by the
Romance of it all, by the alleged fight for Freedom
and Liberty that our brave soldiers were, like Jesus,
martyring themselves for. If we could play some Wagner
now the women would surely weep, and in weeping find
But unfortunately some lesser artists, like Michael
Moore, are still caught up with all that old factual
nonsense. They just don’t get it. Mike should
bury the idea about filming a Fahrenheit sequel because
when compared to the wildly exaggerated and fantastic
works of W, his truth telling is unbearably tedious.
And Americans are fed up with it. That’s why
W’s Arts ministers are so hell-bent on shutting
down those reality peddlers Al-Jazeera, who annoyingly
insist on showing civilian casualties on their broadcasts.
Nobody wants to see women and kids with their arms
and legs blown off. That isn’t Art. That isn’t
going to bring on the new Renaissance. After all,
the smell of Napalm in the morning is only intoxicating
at a distance.
|D.A. Blyler is the author of
the novel Steffi’s Club. His essays have
appeared at Salon.com, The Korean Herald, Bangkok’s
The Nation, and other international and online
publications. A lecturer at Rajabhat University
Rajanagarindra, he makes his home in Thailand.
His latest novel can be purchased at Amazon.com.