Border crossing' is a recurrent theme in all aspects of my work -- editing, writing, and painting. I'm interested in the various ways artists not only cross borders but also subvert them. In mythology, the old Trickster figure Coyote is a champion border crosser, mischievously dashing from the land of the living to the land of the dead, from the wilderness world of magic to the human world. He tears things down so they can be made anew. He's a rascal, but also a culture hero, dancing on borders, ignoring the rules, as many of our most innovative artists do. I'm particularly drawn to art that crosses the borders critics have erected between 'high art' and 'popular culture,' between 'mainstream' and 'genre,' or between one genre and another -- I love that moment of passage between the two; that place on the border where two worlds meet and energize each other, where Coyote enters and shakes things up. But I still have a great love for traditional fantasy, for Imaginary World, center-of-the-genre stories. I'm still excited by series books and trilogies if they're well written and use mythic tropes in interesting ways.
Mass culture is Peter Pan culture. It tells us that if we close our eyes, if we visualize what we want, if we have faith in ourselves, if we tell God that we believe in miracles, if we tap into our inner strength, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, if we focus on happiness, our lives will be harmonious and complete. This cultural retreat into illusion, whether peddled by positive psychologists, Hollywood, or Christian preachers, is a form of magical thinking. It turns worthless mortgages and debt into wealth. It turns the destruction of our manufacturing base into an opportunity for growth. It turns alienation and anxiety into a cheerful conformity. It turns a nation that wages illegal wars and administers off-shore penal colonies where it openly practices torture into the greatest democracy on earth.
Amanda Werner and several other beautiful, elegant, conically breasted foreign ladies, from unspecified vaguely defined countries, plus a few bucolic co-called humorists, comprised Buster's perpetual core of repeats. Women like Amanda Werner never made movies, never appeared in plays; they lived out their queer, beautiful lives as guests on Buster's unending show, appearing, Isidore had once calculated, as much as seventy hours a week.
The power in any society is with those who get to impose the fantasy. It is no longer, as it was for centuries throughout Europe, the church that imposes its fantasy on the populace, nor is it the totalitarian superstate that imposes the fantasy, as it did for 12 years in Nazi Germany and for 69 years in the Soviet Union. Now the fantasy that prevails is the all-consuming, voraciously consumed popular culture, seemingly spawned by, of all things, freedom. The young especially live according to the beliefs that are thought up for them by the society's most unthinking people and by businesses least impeded by innocent ends. Ingeniously as their parents and teachers may attempt to protect the young from being drawn, to their detriment, into the moronic amusement park that is now universal, the preponderance of the power is not with them.