Artists are magicians, in the sense that art is emotionally affective and it plants the seeds of ideas in people’s minds. It has the power to influence and transform society. Art can be thought of as magical because it is transformative. A few sounds and images can change everything. In this sense, it’s like magic because it can spell-bind, enthral and enchant. It can put people into a trance-like state. People can be literally changed by the music and art they view and hear.
Repetitive beats have the effect, and often the intent, of making it easier for you to follow orders and “march in step” to another’s agenda. It creates compliance by synchronising your biology to the mind of a controller, the person driving the beat. Mind and body are not separate; they are intimately, inextricably conjoined. This imprinting and enchaining literally changes neural pathways in people’s brains. Your brain is physically different to how it was before. Once you have seen in a new way, it is no longer possible to not see in that way ever again. Ideas establish permanent turning points, in our minds. Art manipulates the senses. Artists are the authors of that manipulation.
Colours also affect the levels of serotonin and melatonin produced in your body. They can make you more suggestible. This is why rock concerts have light shows, historically. It’s easier to implant ideas if you are in a semi-hypnotic state, driven by bright, flashing lights and a repetitive beat, played at an extreme volume, which literally changes your heart rate. Little separates a rock show from a political rally, in truth. People are assembled in the dark silence, and then they witness a blindingly, dazzlingly bright, overwhelmingly loud show. This technique is as old as theatre. If the artist chooses to deliver a message, you are primed to more or less helplessly receive and internalise it.
Art is powerful. It changes people’s mind, indelibly.
The worst of humanity, our tyrants and dictators, have pressed art into the service of programming a whole population to accept ideas of their making. Stalin’s social realism is an example of this. They know it works. You can get human beings, en masse, to participate in and endorse the most insane of beliefs and actions, if you prime them for the thoughts far enough in advance, through stories, music, drama, theatre, art, television programmes, films, etc. To participate in something terrible, people are routinely first terrorised. Predictive programming is a known technique of mass mind control.
Some think that art reflects the zeitgeist – the spirit of the times – and to some degree, perhaps, it does. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that it also influences and shapes culture. It brings the zeitgeist into being and to life. The 60s happened in the 70s, where I grew up, far from Carnaby St and Laurel Canyon. It is unlikely that the peace and love culture would have happened in conservative, reactionary Australia, were it not for the art of artists like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and the Beatles being imported, but there was a time lag. Our summer of love was in a different year. Punk did exactly the same thing again in the late 70s.
Knowing that art has the power to create the future, it places a heavy burden on artists to not create art that brings into being a dystopian future, where humanity is enslaved and oppressed. Some artists may be pressed into the service of “ecofascism”, for example, where the central idea is that man is the enemy of nature, when in truth man is a part of nature and has as much right to exist as the flowers, trees, rocks and animals. Transhuman man-machine and superman myths are similarly attempts to denigrate and degrade humanity, in the guise of making man more powerful. Dominion over nature is an absurd impossibility, because we’re intimately connected to nature. You cannot be at war with it, without destroying both yourself and it at one and the same time. Some ideas, which the powerful wish to bring to fruition in the future, through the magical influence of art, are undoubtedly bad ideas. Being rich and powerful doesn’t make them smart.
Powerful and violent people may threaten artists with harm or obscurity, unless they deliver their philosophy to the masses, through their art. Artists are on the front line of the struggle between ideas and ideals. They must remain true to their fellow men, to humanity and life as a whole, rather than servants to strange ideas of how the future ought to be according to people that wish to own it all, materially, and to command the efforts of every other human being, for their own gain.
Sometimes the spell is broken and the magic wears thin. With open eyes, newly-awake, humans can take stock of the reality of the situation and assess what they and their fellow men have just been influenced into witnessing, thinking or participating in, either as active agents or passive, acquiescent observers. It is a shocking moment, the sudden realisation. It can come as an unwelcome, disquieting, upset, when the truth is finally discernible. Some immediately deny it, so painful is the realisation. Others are unwilling or unable to even imagine that they have been duped and manipulated, let alone accept it.
Artists need to recognise and accept that they wield a tremendously powerful set of influencing tools, which have almost magical impacts on spectators. They need to use their powers responsibly and for the benefit of humanity, not for its degradation.