Editorial: The Arts I

Tan Tarn How

Guest Editor

I am a fan of s/pores, so when I was invited to guest edit an issue of the journal I was both excited and honoured in equal measures. It took longer than I had anticipated (par for the course in these things, I guess) but here it is, the first part of an issue that became too big that it has to be split in two.

The assignment was to put together a collection on “culture”, as wide a remit as one could be given. I decided that it should be slightly narrowed down to critical reflections on the connection between the arts and culture on the one hand and society and politics on the other hand in Singapore at present and in the past. Other than that, my editorial approach was driven by just one other principle: greed. That is, cast the net as wide a possible. I asked as many people I knew who had interesting things to say; I also accepted a number of articles that Cheng Tju, a member of the s/pores collective, had sourced. Hence, the very eclectic selection before you.

This inclusive strategy was partly because it was possible to do as big an issue as one wanted: an online publication like this does not suffer from the space limitations of paper media necessitated by cost and ecological guilt at causing the death of too many trees. The other, perhaps more important, reason is that there is just too little writing about Singapore that fills the important gap between proper academic research and journalism; so the more the merrier. I have spoken elsewhere about the lack of “thickness” of intellectual discussion here; I hope these two half issues are small steps towards filling that sparseness.

I would like to thank with all my heart the authors, especially those who wrote new articles specially for the two issues under the pressure of constant reminders and the motivation of a big fat zero dollars in payment. The credit is theirs, the faults mine.

I hope you will enjoy reading the articles as much as I have enjoyed bringing them to you.


Culture and the Arts ‘After’ Kuo Pao Kun
C. J. W.-L. Wee

For wolfnotes
Lee Tzu Pheng

Third Stage
Wong Souk Yee

“But there is nothing here to shoot…”
Tay Kay Chin

Raising the Subject
Jason Wee

Censure and Censor
Loretta Chen

National Songs Revisited: From Propaganda to Pop to Anti-cool Kitsch
Tan Shzr Ee

First-World Economy, Third-World Culture
Michelle Loh

Review: +65 Indie Underground
Joseph Tham