Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kicking through the web's red herrings and attempting to revive my OU students' tutor conference with some markets for their writing, I came across the magazine Active Life and a piece on the hippie trail. Well, yes, those who were 20 in the late sixties and early seventies are getting on now. And the piece was an interesting analysis of independent tourism and how it's changed, what we expect.

But this isn't totally the point. The point is that I then gravitated to a literary magazine, which will remain nameless because I was so appalled by its approach I don't think it deserves any publicity at all.

Now I was still in those heady days when ideas were being kicked around, authority was being challenged and there was that post 1950s optimism. Yes, it was powerful, the drive to create something different after rationing and the strictures of a highly marshalled, ordered way of life where everyone had a set role and didn't move from it.

Anyway. Whenever I think of the sixties I can still remember the little hippie bell I wore around my neck with such pride because my dad bought it in San Francisco in 1968. I can remember the feel of tarmac on bare feet in the sun. I have few photos of myself as a teenager but in two of a handful I have a rucksack on my back. I didn't do the hippie trail, I spent time in France.

The point about this massive leap from Active Life to the unnamed literary magazine is that the literary magazine read like a corporate website. There was a list of aims and objectives, there was an offer of CONSULTANCY SERVICES, there was an educational programme, visions and mission statements. Now, in my mind, a literary magazine ought to be offering visions of the kind experienced by Blake, Ginsberg and Coleridge, not of the kind concocted by consultants.

The point of this rant is the terrible realisation that those you imagine are your allies can't always be trusted and that little hippie bell around my neck started ringing as I read......

The arts world has been seduced by corporate vocabulary without understanding what that mindset can do. I'm not dismissing companies who use that language. They need to - they're in business and many of the people I've worked with in business are highly creative, driven and interesting characters. They know what they're being paid to do and do it well.

But what use is business vocabulary to the arts? And what happened to individuality? The unnamed magazine may just be one of those wannabes that populate the arts. A bullshitter, talentless and cowardly. More driven by networking than originality.

Give me honesty, outspokenness, authenticity and courage. Where does it live?

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