A man with a hood over his head sails blythly down a swift-moving stream, unaware and unconcerned that he's cruising to a fiery doom. He is watched, but is it by gods or monsters, or does that refer to us?

Gods or Monsters
16″ x 20″
Oil on canvas

When we visit a museum or gallery, read a book or watch a movie we tend to believe the art, the creative expression portrays what the artist saw. But are we sure? I’m not referring to style. I am not willing to say that Dali, Bosch, Escher and others didn’t see the worlds the created. In one sense, it is a foregone conclusion that they did. How else could they have created them for us?

Yet creative expression, even so-called nonfiction, documentaries and even photography are almost always fiction. And once we ingest them into our psyches, they become fiction, since we reinvent what we see, hear, read and are otherwise exposed to every time we think about them. Even with the original creator, scenes are carefully or casually selected, framed, cropped, retouched, enhanced and changed to suit the artist’s vision. Sometimes, this creates almost a super-reality, where we can examine our place in the world. We are shown a version of reality, a great play or movie, a masterpiece of art or music or whatever you think of when you read these words.

This becomes a problem when material is used to manipulate people into to seeing the world other than as it is for personal gain, money, power, a moral viewpoint that allows damaging behavior. Artists, writers, politicians, and others use a form of this every time they seek to create their vision. If we are aware of this, remember the fiction, we can watch for the editorial bias inherent in this process. We are able to think more clearly. Editorial bias, rather than simply shaping our world to the most honest and true expression, reflects and supports the dominant ideology of the person or group who created it.

Conservative, liberal, anarchist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, black, white, red, yellow, tan, straight, gay, capitalist, communist, socialist, fascist, green, hunter, vegan, war monger, peacenik, pro-life, pro-choice, NRA supporter, anti-gun advocate,  patriot, subversive, survivalist, revolutionary and other unnamed will channel what they present and what they have presented to them based on their views and beliefs. The conflict arises because their target audiences perceive their presentations as reality, the only truth. This perception blinds them, blinds us, to any other point of view. Usually, it makes us antagonistic towards the views and beliefs of others, which may erupt into violence.

Artists, writers, musicians and other creatives, as well as the ruling elite wherever you are understand that access is power. The power brokers constantly reinforce their view of the world on those they directly influence. Our current ready availability to communicate instantly widens such groups immensely. Creative endeavors may do this as well, but often they disguise their version of reality to fool the filters, the censors we and others place on our view of the world. Creative visions may only succeed in small ways occasionally. Yet each success is a grain of sand added to a growing volume seeking a tipping point to change reality for you, me and everyone we know. Sometimes, that grain of sand may lodge in your shoe, irritating, painful, a constant reminder of others you must deal with daily. Sometimes, creative people change not only themselves and others, but the whole society. If you believe this is far-fetched think of Galileo, Newton, Da Vinci, Beethoven, the Beatles, Gandhi, or whomever your personal heroes are. Just remember, the villains also have this power.

Open your eyes, your ears, and your mind and look at the world anew today.


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