Manipulation and violence, animus and hypocrisy: Such is the stuff of politics on almost any given day, in any corner of the world. But, on our best days, politics holds out the possibility of actually making things better and solving our problems. These are not our best days.
In the war-torn country of Colombia, a much-hailed peace settlement to end a half-century of armed conflict was voided by a national referendum 39 days later. Not even the surprise announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is likely to help fix the country's broken politics.
Art is a different story. The Bogota-based newspaper El Espectador describes a major new installation in the capital by famed Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. Her Sumando Ausencias ("Adding Up Absences"), where hundreds of volunteers have written with ash on white sheets the names of some 2,300 victims of civil war, depicts not so much a country that is polarized politically, but simply broken. "Art is not just an instrument for reflecting on reality in times of crisis," writes El Espectador's Arturo Charria, "but also saves and repairs what has become irreparable by other means."
Some might search for answers in another surprising Nobel announcement. Since he was awarded the 2016 Nobel prize in Literature yesterday, Bob Dylan hasn't spoken a word publicly. He did, as is his habit, play a concert last night in the appropriately surreal location of Las Vegas, Nevada. The American troubadour/sphinx, who has written some of the most memorable politically-tinged songs, will certainly not be speaking out (or probably even writing) about what is happening right now to the politics of his country. Here, instead, are just a few words from his 1983 song "Jokerman expand=1]":
You're a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds,
Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister â€¦
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)
- Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum reopens after $15 million makeover.
- U.S., Russia and others will meet in Lausanne to discuss Syria's future (Saturday)