Elimination is very popular right now, in the media, as well as in real life. A large number of the popular television shows focus on the process of elimination of a set of candidates, a set of Donald Trump potential employees, a set of aspiring singers auditioning for the top spot, a set of so-called â€˜survivorsâ€™ whose game is to decide every so often on who will be eliminated. Other popular television shows focus on crime, starting with the eliminated victim, and continue on to how to eliminate the perpetrator from society.
The elimination rituals are unforgiving. Whoever is best at following a set of rules and at getting rid of the competition by whatever means wins. They reflects the realms that are most valued in our society: the world of sports competition and the world of business competition. Whether these should be applied to the arts and entertainment however, is questionable. Over-emphasizing competition caters to negative feelings of selfishness, jealousy and greed. It does not offer an ideal or ethic, but only the survival of the fittest. The elimination rituals are a throw back to primitive human sacrifice.
In real life, the elimination ritual is part of a workplace where a good job performance is no guarantee of continued employment, where chaotic decisions and irrational situations brought about by abuse of power or hostile take-overs are the rule rather than the exception.
For composers, the elimination takes place at every funding organization, based on cronyism, politics, or narrow focus. Eliminated from the world of commissions, the shrinking job market also eliminates us because of prohibitive requirements or various forms of unrecognized discrimination.
I wonder whether the war has something to do with it. After all, wars are a process of elimination. But right here, in America, there is another war: the war against culture. I live with the sense that my very survival as a human being is threatened, not to mention my creative survival as a composer. When I came to New York in the early seventies with one suitcase and $50 in my pocket, I though I found the cultural Mecca of the time. Unfortunately, from the mid-eighties to the present, the culture has continually declined. I have made my home here, and I am not about to go back to Europe – I could only go through this kind of drastic change once in my lifetime. And here I stay, watching us, the creators, being slowly eliminated in this giant but apocryphal cultural genocide.