Sunday 9 December 2018

They say truth is beauty and beauty is truth, but what fresh hell is this?

The new painting that Trump has hung in the White House
The new painting that Trump has hung in the White House
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

The above painting that Trump has hung in the White House - of himself with other Republican heroes including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W Bush and Abraham Lincoln - is clearly not a great work of art.

It reflects the poverty of spirit of a man who is spurned by most artists, apart from Kanye West and Kid Rock and Ted Nugent.

And in a week of almost incessant badness, it probably caused another surge in one of the most under-reported activities on the internet - the googling of "Democratic hopefuls for 2020".

There you will find "Beto" O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders and Oprah Winfrey - who may themselves be hopeful, though they are not making me very hopeful at this time.

Because that painting reminds us that bad art tends to be a lot more popular than the good stuff, as one Van Morrison would no doubt be aware. I may have mentioned this already somewhere, but that documentary on the making of Astral Weeks is a kind of a monument to the eternal struggle between good and bad, right and wrong.

It would not have helped Van's mood at that time, this knowledge that the world didn't really want him to make a masterpiece, it just wanted him to make a few hits that would make money for someone else.

Yes, it is hard enough to make something of the stature of Astral Weeks when you're desperately introverted and they want you to join the army, but when you know that the culture as a whole is against you, and you still do it…

The narrator of the documentary was the actor Richard Dormer, who played Terri Hooley in the film Good Vibrations - another monument to those who fought the good fight in Northern Ireland and who were mostly ignored until it was all over... and indeed Astral Weeks itself didn't sell much when it came out in 1968, or for a long time after that.

So, perhaps, there is some mystical significance in the fact that Milkman by Anna Burns won the Man Booker Prize in the week of marking the anniversary of the recording of this beautiful thing that came out of Belfast.

Perhaps the baleful gods have not completely abandoned us.

Sunday Independent

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