"Revolutionary Man: John Lennon As Political Artist"
Lennon’s capacity and desire to move across cultures is evident in his art and politics. “Imagine” has been defanged and sanitized through kitsch oversaturation and appropriation by those committed to the constraints of borders. Espousing a radical humanism and internationalism in its conception of a world without borders, it is, however, more revolutionary than ever. How many people, particularly those in the wealthy nations of the North, would be willing to surrender their nationality, to effectively do away with their country? Imagine no land to defend, no national sports team to support. Inspired by the ethos of “Imagine”, Lennon called a press conference in 1973 to announce the establishment of Nutopia, “a conceptual country” that “has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.’ Nutopia’s national anthem- a brief line of silence- appears on the album Mind Games (1973). The event was intended to be both playful and provocative. The following words by James Joyce suggest Lennon’s spirit: “When the soul of a man is born in this country, there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language and religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.” (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).
John Lennon helped to transform the art and image of the pop star. His very public political activism and socially and politically aware lyrics have earned him a prominent place in the creative and political history of rock. Lennon was at once noble and narcissistic. He had both an artist’s arrogance and empathy. But what cannot be doubted is his creative intelligence, intellectual curiosity, capacity for growth and willingness to take risks.