Sunday, August 15, 2010
Hey, that almost sounds like a segue. I've been thinking about outsider art a lot lately, probably because Baltimore is a hub for the stuff. Weirdo/folk art is big here - we've got everything from 'zines to painted screen doors to John Waters movies to AVAM, not to mention how many writers/students/hobbyist poets there are in this town. There are a lot of open mics around here, some of them weekly. A lot of the more active writers are more conventional, yes, but there's nothing wrong with that. A lot of them are quite good, in fact.
What interests me, though, is that outsider art still has a stigma attached to it. Even though it has taken on more prominence in the past 10-15 years than ever before, in almost every artistic medium (visual arts, music, etc.), it still unnerves people. It's almost slotted in with anime, punk rock, and heavy metal as something that only freaks and losers and antisocial manchildren can enjoy. Hipsters may think those attitudes are dead, but they really aren't - I see them crop up a lot in my interactions with the local literary community, anyway.
Hell, even I catch myself holding those attitudes from time to time, as if to say that something is only as valuable as it is respectable (thinking specifically of anime stigma here, since the stereotype is that everyone into the stuff is a fat, awkward otaku with poor hygiene). And that's not really true. Even if it was, the freaks and losers and antisocial manchildren of the world need some element of society to speak to them. Denying that is effectively saying that only certain elements of society deserve to be entertained/represented, which is horse shit. Of course, all this leads into a huge discussion about how outsider art is co-opted and made safe for general consumption, one that I don't have the energy for right now, but luckily the Internet provides a nice end-run around that familiar cycle if you're patient and willing to dig up some fun on your own.
Anyway, Christ, I'm rambling. Is this what I sound like when I talk? Half-smart gibberish bubbling out of my mouth like sea foam? Clearly I need to get back to work, or read Charles Stross' blog more often so I can see what happens when someone organizes his thoughts instead of just shitting them out through his fingers. Ta.