Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My arts policy

Over the years, I have been to performances of various types in pubs, in art galleries, in libraries, in theatres, in town halls, in cafes, in clubs, in the street, in Federation Square, and even, once, in a garage. Pubs are undoubtedly the best. 

What is there not to like in a pub? They are fundamentally pleasing places. You can eat there, drink there, and talk there. A pub is pleasing to inhabit, and pleasing to look at: pass through almost any Australian town and you can immediately pick out the elegant 19th century facade of the public house. 

And of course, pubs are full of drink, and therefore, large numbers of drunk people. And this is why I like seeing performers - be they bands, or singers, or poets, or just miscellaneous - in pubs. The drunk people make all the difference. 

Consider the situation from the eyes of a performer: 

- Drunk people are honest. Not simply by natural alcoholic inclination, but also because they are not likely to have come to the pub to listen to you. They have invested all their effort and their money in their drink: you are extra. They do not necessarily feel any need to appreciate your art, your performance, and if they like it anyway, you know you're doing something right. 

- Drunk people are generally rude and shouty. Actually, in some places being rude and shouty is compulsory. I suppose to some performers this might be considered a disadvantage, but it's not really: most of the time, audience members are only expected to be supportive and appreciative. If they know they are allowed to swear at you and throw things at you, then they will, oddly, be more open and appreciative if you do something right. Imagine this sort of thing happening at the art gallery. You see what I mean. 

- Drunk people are, well, drunk. And being drunk is confusing. When it comes to the arts, this is a good thing. Consider the critic at the theatrical performance, pondering the postmodern ramifications of the oeuvre through the generic ramifications of the semiosis* of the existential angst of the subconscious narratology of the rhyme scheme: that's so confusing that only a critic could know what that means. Well, being drunk is even more confusing than that (as a simple test, just read that last sentence out to a drunk. They'll have no idea what it means! See?)

It follows, then, that the principal supporter of Australian culture over the past 200 years has been the pub and the drunk people who inhabit it. It is true, art galleries and schools and town halls and theatres have their place, but we must not let our attention be drawn from the fact that it is principally due to the pub. 

Why, then, do the government and philanthropic agencies not do more to support and encourage the insobriety and alcoholism that have been the great source of creativity in this nation? Drunkenness ought to be taught in schools. It would be easier to learn than maths, and less strenuous than PE. In fact, there ought to be whole philanthropic institutions set up to encourage drunk people and thereby stimulate the arts and creativity in Australia. I envisage, in some situations, this could lead to enhanced economic and administrative efficiency: for instance, the files and protocols of many a public institution probably look as if they have been designed by a drunk person. Why not actually get the drunk person who can do just that?

It would be so easy, after we have come so far, for our children to forget the drinking ways of their fathers and mothers, and slip into sobriety and puritanical teetotalism. If culture is to survive in this country, this must not be allowed to happen. 

Australians! Get behind this great drinking effort, for the sake of art! The only thing we have to lose is our sobriety! (And, possibly, our licences. And our cash. And, in certain medical circumstances, our vision). Anyway - you know what I mean!

*I know neither the correct spelling nor the correct meaning of this word. Everything else about it is right. 


Dan the VespaMan said...

Agreed, far too much effort being expended on making us dull and sensible. Much good art and culture has been accidentally discovered during consumption of and thanks to a favourite intoxicant.

"I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety."
-Shakespeare, Henry V

TimT said...


Mitzi G Burger said...

Semiosis, it's when you're half drunk and can only remember half of the wors to all the karaoke songs no-one has encouraged you to get up on stage and sing.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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