Monday, April 29, 2024

On the Spectrum


Should I write a manifesto?  It's hard to do in one draft briefly on a Monday morning.  Ha!  I'll do it anyway.  Sit back.  Don't get comfortable.  

First, what is "art"?  Oh, boy. . . here we go.  It is kind of like asking "what is science," but it isn't.  Science, you see, is really a method, not an outcome.  Maybe we measure it by the outcome, though.  Art, too.  But the method isn't as important in art.  Innovation, I guess, would be the method.  Science doesn't challenge anything.  It investigates.  Art, by and large, challenges the way you view "the world."  

"Make it new," was the Modernists challenge.  From the shards and broken values following the war, they desired to create a new vision of reality.  And oh. . . they did, for good or ill.  Postmodernism, too.  People didn't like that so much, though, so now we have the Make It Like That Again movement.  


But that is hardly what I wanted to delve into.  The article in the Times is about how money corrupts art and simplifies things.  T.V. is the author's concern since he is a playwright who sells scripts.  T.V. executives are now measuring scripts by the moral fiber of its characters.  They don't want to offend audiences.  Why?  Pure and simple economics.  

Hence, his message--art offends.  Or can.  Should?  Again. . . WTF is "art"?

I've had these arguments with people who have not bothered to learn anything about the topic.  Topics, really, science or art.  And that's fine, I guess.  I like pretty and decorative things. . . a lot.  I'm a big fan.  Hell, I've invested.  But simply having a preference for one thing over another doesn't make you a critic.  

Does it?

I'm arguing this out in my head as I write.  

Walk through any major museum in the world.  Stroll through the Renaissance paintings.  They are massive and impressive.  But. . . do you get tired of it soon enough?  The techniques are spectacular, the effort and talent is great.  But why do they all have the arm of God coming from on high, or angels, or demons, or the little baby Jesus?  That was the money.  The Church was a patron you didn't want to cross.  At best you'd go broke, but you might end up in the hoosegow.  Or worse.  

And then. . . there's Caravaggio.  Right?  Always on the run.  "No hope, no fear," was the reported motto engraved on his knife.  Low life, high art.  His dedication was fierce.  He was insane by many accounts.  

And that is really what I wanted to say.  I used to ask my class, "Would you want to live the life of an artist?"  I mean, you have to be or put yourself somewhere on the spectrum.  You have to live that shit 24/7.  It is what you are always thinking about.  It is what is always in your head.  You can't be a good partner/parent/friend and write a novel.  You are absent.  You are in that "other thing."  Same with the other arts, yes?  Composers?  Painters?  Otherwise, you are Norman Rockwell.  I'm sure he was easier to live with than Picasso, though I see something dark in his illustrations, something nearly perverse.  

You can write magazine articles or create illustrations without the madness.  But you wouldn't want Hemingway, Pound, Woolf, etc. for a parent.  Or a partner.  Nope.  It would be awful.  They are things to be put on display and watched.  Just don't go reaching through the bars.  

Now for a little self-aggrandizing.  That's the whole point of this, right?  Me?  What about me?  

I'll not belabor the point.  You don't have to be good to be an artist.  I mean, you can be obsessed and on the spectrum and make things that nobody values.  All art isn't good, if there are such things written in the cosmos of what is "good" and what is not.  

There isn't.  

C.C. says that all art is disruptive.  It is pornography, he tells me sometimes.  I'm not calling him out here, just saying because I know what he means.  There are things that appeal to the common taste and there are things that disrupt it and in the process, changes it.  But the moral mongers are always ready for the fight.  They are not all halfwits, perhaps, but there is a good and mighty number of them.  


That is why I gave up the studio.  I couldn't do that and have a relationship, too.  I'm not saying I was an artist.  I'm just saying I was putting myself on the spectrum in my effort.  But I kept writing, and as always, that was problematic enough.  

Q quit it all for a reason.  It is nothing but trouble.  

Art is disruptive.  Revolutions use artists, of course, then subvert them.  Don't disrupt the revolution.  You'll end up in the hoosegow.  

Either way.  

But oh that Caravaggio.  

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