Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Phony Narrative

It's on the cover of Time Magazine this week:  the old "insider/outsider" waltz.  In this instance, the headline is THE INSIDERS VS. THE OUTSIDERS, and the story is about how more mainstream candidates in the Republican party, chiefly Mitt Romney, the Robot of Gibraltar, seem to be losing a battle for the heart of the Republican party to The Outsiders like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Ron Paul.  Outsiderness in this case is theorized (kind of clumsily by Time writer Joe Klein) as loud-mouth dissent, an "amateurish" band of "purists" bragging about the total absence of governmental experience, to "roars of laughter and approval on the stump." 

Conversely, Klein uses these words to help paint a picture of Insider Romney:  "thoughtful, nuanced, focused, efficient."  The whole drama is boiled down to, in Klein's words, "country-club aristocracy vs. pitchfork populism."

The simplification is brought to you by The Professional Narrative, Inc., a way of constructing a dichotomy that reifies the ingeniousness of the "Professional," while dispensing with those "amateurs."  Never mind that all the Outsiders mentioned in the article are all Professional Politicians themselves.  It's their artificial positions on a made-up game board Klein seems interested in...

Just like many people construct the Outsider Artist narrative.

On this side of the dance-floor:  "focused, thoughtful aristocratic" professional artists inhabit a museum/universe of credentialization, working within the art historical narrative, studying it, researching it, and perpetuating its messages of professional ascension.  On the other side of the dance-floor, well, on the actual outside of it:  the unestablished, uncredentialed makers of "pureness," amateurs on their way to ascending in a different less-than-professional way chiefly because of their lack of thought and nuance and efficiency. 

In Klein's political-science version of the insider/outsider, the insiders are at the mercy of those vulgarian outsiders, but you can tell by the smugness of his prose he just knows the Professional must win for the sake of the country,  for the sake of the common good. 

I don't really care too much about the Republican party,  Its innards are like any other organization's that has outgrown its purpose and is just growing for the sake of power-acquisition...  But that outsider/insider split is instructive.  Sarah Palin defines herself as "rogue."  "Outsider" is now a trope of Tea-Partiers and Time Magazine pundits.

The whole concept has outlived its usefulness and is just another way for the Professional Narrative, Inc. to increase it ubiquity, continue to perpetuate the idea that all Romneys are meant to be next in line, and all Palins are amateurs barking at the gate.

It is a phony narrative, a way to turn political (and really any) ideology into a game-show, and to find new ways to make the Established and the Establishment more established without admitting a weird and wild little truth:  all these Republicans, insiders and outsiders both, are knee-deep in the same hoopla, saying basically the same thing.  Being an insider or being an outsider really has no meaning when everyone is part of the same circus.

The Artworld (and yup I am purposefully using this vague and hegemonic term) has that hothouse sameness as well.  The Professional Narrative, Inc. wants to separate the Insiders from the Outsiders, but in reality there's a lot of disintegration happening between those two poles.  We might want to celebrate that disintegration.  We might want to start the official attack on that professional narrative soon...