|Gregory Alan Norton leading a student strike in 1969|
|What is Psychosocial Art?|
| I like art that seeks to change the world. Because I think humanity can successfully analyze its problems as a species and move forward, democratically, to create a better world. I understand my thinking flies in the face of much contemporary academic and intellectual dogma that informs us the age of "metanarrative" and objective/scientific analysis is over. Postmodernists inform us that everything is seen though individual subjective prisms. Hence, as William S. Burroughs like to have one of his characters say, "Everything is permitted." And it is. Look at the spectacular social decay all around us.
Meanwhile, humanity continues to struggle forward, trying to survive and maintain a semblance of a human existence int he face of a corporate onslaught that continues to drive wages and living conditions down for most of humanity. Inner psychic development for most of humanity is a luxury that can no longer be afforded as humans are forced to spend more and more time on their jobs, or for the growing world wide army of the unemployed, foraging for the most basic animal necessities.
I like art that tries to undersand the human personality and explores the deeper structures within the human psyche. Because a better understanding of the human interior will enable us, as a species, to evolve into a better animal. I like art that tries to put together a psychosocial road map of inner and outter reality. I like art that explores the inner mysteries and dynamics of human personality types.
I like art that tries to deal with the big picture. Art that tries to make sense of it. Art that realizes that dealing with the psychosocial reality is more important than writing well, but having nothing to say. I recently read a book purporting to represent that year's best short stories. They were all very "crafty," however, all they did was hold a mirror up to reality. The writers had nothing much to say about reality - they couldn't find any significant meaning although all the stories were very finely written.
For artists living in the United States, I think one of our responsibilites is to try to understand the socail decay occurring all around us as the Psychotic Atomik Empire continues to decompose. As in the days of the decline of the Roman Empire, we see wonderful roads being constructed, permanent imperial warfare, strange new apocryphal religions arise, outrageous public corruption, and a growing sense among people that it's all going to end badly.
I like art that tries to look at society in terms of social class mediated by a variety of other social phenomena such as race, gender, age, and nationality. When that analysis is tempered by an interior psychological exploration of personality, then, rich, meaningful, art seems to be produced.
So, what is psychosocial art? I think that it's art that examines a human society splintered by social class, gender, race, and nationality. It's the kind of art that investigates the driving forces deep within the human psyche. And it's art the mediates between the outer and inner worlds of the human being.
- from an unpublished essay collection by Gregory Alan Norton, The Algebra of Consciousness
|Read a short story by Gregory Alan Norton|