I was going to write some sprawling post about how the avant-garde poses problems and how the rest of the world tries to figure them out or accept them, but then PDQ Bach came on. And it occurs to me, isn’t the last refuge for the avant-garde- humor? Seems no one in the classical establishment can take humor seriously, yet all self-respecting music historians and critics take john cage's four minutes of silence seriously.
Works like PDQ's Shleptet (a work of far more substance than Cage's) are enjoyed and even celebrated, yet i have not heard of another person who sees the great art in it. Why cant we agree that Peter Schikele's works are of importance? I thought post-modernists were supposed to undermine the concept of high art, but here we are, still treating humor like second-class (so to speak). So just what is so unart-ful about humor?
We accept the dadaists in visual arts and literature. What irony! they set out to destroy the establishment and make fun of it, but since the art world takes them seriously as great precursors of modernist avant-garde conceptualism, their works (or anti-works) are now placed in major art museums . It reminds me of that quote of Camus- "All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State." And so it is with art.
And back to the Schikele business. PDQ Bach's oeuvre are some of the greatest post-modernist works- some of the greatest compositions and constructions in the last 50 years. I dare say it. And why not? There is no logical reason that we should not take humor seriously.
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