Throughout history, the arts have served as a cathartic conduit for healing, for uniting across our differences, and for the illumination of deeper truths—thus it is no surprise that those who wish to degrade the human spirit so they can better control us have gradually supplanted beauty with debauchery, craft with gimmickry, truth-telling with vacuous entertainment.

CJ Hopkins drew the comparison between theater and spiritual rituals in our Dissident Dialogues interview:

“Our spiritual rituals used to do that also, before they were stripped of their power and reduced to empty simulations of themselves. It isn’t about watching a performance and rationally interpreting what it ‘means.’ It is about having the wiring in your head physically altered by the drugs, the psychosis, or the performance so that you perceive reality differently. Theater still has the power to do that.” (https://margaretannaalice.substack.com/p/dissident-dialogues-cj-hopkins)

Robin Monotti and I also discussed the power of the arts to pierce the cognitive defenses of the menticided during the World Council for Health General Assembly #82:


The cataclysmic impact of the video featuring Tess Lawrie’s reading of my poem is further evidence of why art is such a threat to hegemony:

• “Mistakes Were NOT Made: One Poem to Wake the World” (https://margaretannaalice.substack.com/p/mistakes-were-not-made-one-poem-to)

Clifton, I think we could achieve a similar atomic detonation if you are open to the possibility of collaborating. I am not sure if you saw my previous attempts to reach out to you about this, so forgive me for repeating myself, but I feel like we have the opportunity to create an artifact of historic importance. It would be an honor to join forces with you if you are open to that. Ask CJ to make the introductions or reply to my mailing list signup if you’d like to discuss the possibilities.

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This is brilliant, Clifton. The kind of thoughtful, personal defense of our arts that we need.

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Wonderful essay. Reminds me of two things.

Two years ago I was in Gdańsk. As an apostate, I was surprised at the magnificence of their churches and cathedrals. When I stepped inside, I lingered in silence.

I may not believe their dogmas, but I do believe in the bigger picture. Inside those buildings, one simply... gets it.

Second thing is later this year Bill Watterson is releasing a new book. If one doesn’t recall, Bill did Calvin and Hobbes.

I think those strips have a very good chance, not unlike the journey Aurelius’ Meditations took.

Once again, thanks for this piece.

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Calvin & Hobbes is in my top 5 of modern art. His resistance to the commodification a la peanuts etc was just inspirational.

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Yup! I plan to write about him soon.

Left $300 million on the table and quit after 10 years to spend more time with Dad and paint.


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It’s one of my most treasured things, the hardback, beautifully bound complete collection. Funny, i’ve been planning my next four or five pieces, his name was in there. But i’ll doff to you man, kick it out :)

The essay at the beginning of the complete is amazing....

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Yeah. Art is some primal, connective tissue. Where we can find the love and balance of the other, outside the thought bubble machine churning away inside our head.

And there’s room for everyone - The highly skilled or the amateur tinkerer. The highly skilled can move countless, the amateur tinkerer moves one’s self and maybe some others who, like me, love the world of folk art in whatever guise it takes - photos, music, paintings, poems. But it matters not. Making and appreciating it is what counts - from the five year old scrawl on the fridge to the Sistine Chapel, it all matters in some way. Even your essays Clifton ;)

Once again man, thanks. Be careful eh, you’re giving conservatives a good name ;)!!!

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I am happy that you were able to be a part of such a time and place.

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Yes I think the culture warriors you speak of are often most off base when it comes to the arts. I agree with them politically but when it comes to art they interject politics too much. I agree many artists have crazy politics but that doesn't mean they can't also produce good art.

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Yes, it all starts with beauty (even if not initially apparent). Thank you!

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Because toying with emotions and meaning becomes hideous for those so down to earth they barely make ends meet, if at all.

Because the material bare minimum being sistematically denied is the precursor of an illiterate, ignorant, subserviant and subdued class for which the arts its an out of context commodity.

Because when not in service of the burgeoise and out of reach, out of sight of the working class, arts can be revolutionary. But it takes a revolution for them to be revolutionary. But it's too much work. It takes to much guts. And the slightest break thru will be visibility filtered by the consumer industry panopticon, thru wich the bulk of the cultural gaze has been choked.

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So true what you are saying. How much of the world is lost in Machine Learning and economic models. They don’t allow for humanity. Just an overly rational society.

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"The world is only as free as it allows its artists to be." Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being (2023)

Thank you for speaking out, Clifton!

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Beautiful. thank you for re-sharing it. what are we doing to fill the soul anymore? do we even have the capacity for it? I stopped going to the theater, museum, arts, etc. after Covid - it was all a morass of moral finger-wagging and boring 1-D race-essentialism. It's urgent that we get back to the constructive and creative parts of our human experience.

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I believe the trend of broadcasting live shows into movie and home theaters is the next level of outreach for live performance.

Instead of patrons around the world only being subjected to third rate musical theatre at local playhouses with traveling shows and local talent, I envision whole broadway workshops being opened up with live streaming so students can witness firsthand how the cheese is made.

Instead of a show in New York or DC being limited to a local audience, streaming live will morph that show potentially, into a world wide event, with affordable ticketing and for the really great work, MILLIONS of viewers.

Visionaries should be thinking out loud about how to invite patrons into the rehearsal space, the artists studio, and the dancers realm to gin up excitement for any new work, and then be prepared with top quality streaming and videography to share what has been crafted in an opening night, where the whole of humanity is invited to participate.

This sort of financial shakeup and democratization of the performing arts is exactly the type of thinking needed as future collaborators, crafting new work, will gestate independent productions as companies are decoupled from taxpayer money and their sicko gatekeepers at the national endowment for the arts.

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I can see some benefits to this kind of idea, but isn’t this also, unintentionally, ultra elitist? “Third rate musical theatre” - so, only la creme get to engage in making art?? We should only appreciate it when it’s at that level? That leaves me really cold. The true power in art is doing and making it, not consuming it, in my opinion and experience. As a kid, i played in amateur musical theatre all the time. It was beautiful. And worth it... no matter how many times some guy fluffed his lines or missed that tricky entry note.

And no matter how good the internet, you can’t feel that emotion in the room in any way like you can when there. That shared emotional weight between performers and the audience is the secret sauce that the internet will just wipe up with a great big bit of digital kitchen roll. So thanks, i’ll take Frank and co doing Bugsy Malone to the best of their ability to some 0-1 version of highly crafted actors doing it thousands of miles away over the internet.

Plus, i like the “i was there” stories... maybe i’ll write about the first time The White Stripes played in London and getting sprayed by Jack White’s sweat. Try getting that from the comfort of the zoom living room.

Sorry - i don’t mean to put a pin in the whole balloon. If there was a way both could coexist without the amateur being finally eviscerated, i’d be more enthusiastic. But that’s where it would lead, i think.

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I have five children and tried mightily to come up with a musical theatre kid.

We did not have the cash to take them all down to Denver to see the professional shows at the Buell or even the top regional theaters.

So all they saw as children was local third rate poorly produced live theatre at the schools and neighborhood company productions.

I am NOT knocking that level of theatre.

I love it, I grew up in it, I have directed and produced in it, and my own talent level put me into a summer stock company that produces some of the best shows in the west.

Democratizing professional theatre by making it available online for ten or twenty bucks a ticket would enable families to share highly produced and perfected shows with their children while they are little, so they could early on witness the full scale of live performance.

We need to throw open those spaces (yes, even Opera) and let the masses stream in.

The reason why High School Musical was such a popular movie is because it explored these themes of the everyman/woman getting a chance to sing.

My kids were little when it came out and they and their friends were so excited about that message.

The worldwide streaming of well produced live theatre is the new frontier for artists.

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I’ll give it to you :)

The amateur world has already been cannibalised.

It’s interesting that we’re having to discuss reverse engineering what was a conscious choice to remove “the rabble” from the world of classical, ballet, opera etc at the end of the 1800s.

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I was on the FAIR Chapter leader call on Thursday (which is where I first crossed paths with Clifton when he joined as a guest speaker a few months ago.😀)

Lory had invited Brent Morden, head of the new FAIR in the Arts organization, to update us on exciting new developments.

He announced a FAIR fund that is being set up to support artists cancelled because of violating free speech codes etc...

We all understand how the game is rigged.

You want taxpayer dollars to produce?

The rules of engagement have narrowed so significantly lately, we may soon enter Madam Mao territory (watch Maos last dancer), where the only ballets produced are those displaying violent revolution.

Private funding is a short term solution, but long term, the National Endowment for the Arts etc... needs to be blown up.



I have been thinking about all of these issues for a long time.


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I’ll read down the line. Thanks.

Hey, look at us! Polite disagreement to resolution. “Who woulda thunk it?”

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Theater is about presence, and that is the one thing you can't "stream". So no. Purchasing power for the working class, public funding for the arts, local or regional or national coopeartives of performing arts, and social incentives that reach peoples interest in the midst of the ubiquitous noise, that is the new (old) frontier for artists.

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Thanks Copernicus for setting everyone straight. I am certain we are all so much smarter for you saying what is what.

We have not even scratched the surface of what is coming in the performing arts.

This Daddy daughter duo have completely flipped the script on busting into the music industry.

They started on Facebook and quickly moved to producing multiple albums, in theatre concerts that were streamed on the internet, with no musical gatekeepers.

Just singers and their fans creating amazing joyful art.


I have currently attended two concerts online, bought several albums worth of music, learned a few of their musical arrangements, and follow them closely on social media.

Multiply me with a fan base that stretches all over the world.

You can take your "live prescence" and tuck it away in the casket of old smelly moldy marxist theatre companies preying on families with grants from taxpayers funding the current swill of politically correct theatre, excomunicating the unvaxxed and the unwoke with every audition cycle, and shove that model where the sun don't shine.

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