Toward Mature Korean Democracy & Society with Tolerance & Magnanimity
Art, Democracy, Freedom of Speech 조중행
Listening to the controversy on the intention of Director Bong’s movie “Parasite”,
I, who grew up during the “Cold War Era”, tempered by the war, poverty, dictatorship,
북진 통일 education, could not help feeling certain sadness on the social & political
reality of current Korea.
In spite of the so-called “democratization process” Korea has accomplished to
some believers, I feel "democracy” seems still far-fetched, & a promise unfulfilled.
Just like France where it took almost a hundred years after the revolution
for them to achieve a modern free democratic society, maybe Korean history still needs
more smells of blood.
Many years ago, I was totally moved by a speech by Actor & Director Warren Beatty
and John F Kennedy. The principle of “Art and Democracy” so well defined in JFK’s
Amherst address on the occasion of dedicating "Robert Frost library" in October 1963,
the last address before his tragic death, was truly moving.
It was one of the best speeches by a politician.
When America embraced such movie like“Reds”(Story of An American Communist
journalist John Reed) during the cold war era and even endowed “Best Director Award”
in 1982, to Warren Beatty, it showed strength & magnanimity of American democracy
& freedom of speech.
Watching the China-story during this coronavirus situation,
unless D.T like stupidity prevail, Pax Americana will have future for many generations
to come on the firm ground of transparent democracy and freedom of expression.
Following is part of the JFK Speech.
When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve
as the touchstone of our judgment.
“The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion
of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state.
The great artist is thus a solitary figure. He has, as Frost said, a lover's quarrel with the world.
In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time.
This is not a popular role. If Robert Frost was much honored in his lifetime,
it was because a good many preferred to ignore his darker truths.
Yet in retrospect, we see how the artist's fidelity has strengthened the fibre of our national life.
If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society,
it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate
any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential.
I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization
than full recognition of the place of the artist.
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow
his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of
propaganda; it is a form of truth. And as Mr. MacLeish once remarked of poets,
there is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style. In a free society, art is not a weapon
and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology.
Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere.
But democratic society--in it, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is
to remain true to himself and to let the chips fall where they may.
In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation
which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man,
the fate of having "nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing
to look forward to with hope."---------
JFK'S SPEECH IN AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS (OCTOBER 26, 1963)
For Old Times" sake, clips of the Epic Movie "Reds", 1981 & Warren Beatty accepting the Best Director Award, 1982
|prepared by J H Choh, class of 1969|
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