playing in Pyongyang, art-silly


– Great art can change the world. As for Mr. Clapton, he would do well to lend an ear to his fellow rocker Neil Young. “I think that the time when music could change the world is past,” Mr. Young recently said. “I think it would be very naïve to think that in this day and age.” Indeed it would, but far too many artists are just that naïve, not to mention vain (which makes one wonder exactly why Mr. Young is joining with Bruce Springsteen in contributing songs to the soundtrack album of the forthcoming antiwar film “Body of War”). Clement Greenberg, the great art critic, called such foolish folk “art-silly,” going on to issue the following warning: “Art solves nothing, either for the artist himself or for those who receive his art.” Least of all does it have the power to tear down the high walls of tyranny — or to feed the terror-stricken people of North Korea.

Irene Breslau, a member of the Philharmonic’s viola section, got it right on the nose: “I’ve had a lot of moral reservations based on wondering what a concert for the elite is going to do to help the people starving in the street,” she told the Associated Press. Too bad Ms. Breslau’s bosses didn’t ask themselves that question before sending her to Pyongyang.

more from the WSJ here.