Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Philistine Speaks Out

Should anyone ask, I would instantly call myself an artistic person rather than one with a scientific bent of mind (please!). But it has occurred to me that either the whole world is (for whatever nefarious motive of its own) seeing artistry where there is none, or I am a singularly tasteless person with nary an artistic bone in my body. The third option is, like so many other things about me, that I am a throwback to a simpler, earlier age.

After starting this blog I’ve realized I don’t feel comfortable with modern technology, I don’t like how people are nowadays (I suspect that would’ve held true whichever age I would’ve been born in), my weight that has made me a pariah in modern fashionable circles would’ve granted me appreciation as a noted beauty two centuries or so ago. And now this realization about art. Maybe I should’ve been born two centuries ago, and been burnt to a crisp by now with my dead 80 year old husband. Would’ve served me right.

Take visual art for example. Paintings. The stuff which is all the rage nowadays and are featured in newspapers simply appall me. They sell for crores and crores, and though some of the colors are quite pleasing sometimes…I honestly don’t see art in the intentionally crudely executed drawings. The distortions are deliberate, childish, and frankly…lazy. I mean, I could draw like that! (I’m of course making a generalization here, there are some pretty cool painters out there still-- I’m talking about a trend.) If you can’t draw straight why be a painter? More importantly, can’t the buyers see that they could just hand their 6 year-olds a huge canvas, a couple of brushes (or maybe not), and a pleasing combination of midnight blue and yellow ochre paint and ask them to knock themselves out? Then they could splurge on a really fabulous frame for the painting, and still save some money to put in the kid’s college fund. Not to mention keep the kids occupied for an entire afternoon.

(Oh yes, ‘Philistine, philistine!’ everyone is crowing by now. ‘Why does she comment on that which she doesn’t understand? Art is not supposed to depict the external but the internal, perspective is a conceit, proportion is something imposed on the artistic few by the majority with commonplace minds. Reality is relative, etc.’ I would’ve appreciated all that if art was a mixed bag, with both realistic and er…whatever schools of thought. But I don’t understand why modern art has to be in most cases..well… so ugly, why a common person has to risk damnation to claim to like it. All I’m saying is art could be prettier. (Shame on me.) It could look more skilled, like the person hailed as the great artist can actually DRAW. And by saying that I know I will be condemned as the bourgeois that I am to the end of my days.

But I’m not the only one, there are a lot of closet realists out there, people who secretly wish to put up beautifully detailed cityscapes, and pictures of ripe mustard fields, rather than tortured depictions of half creatures in magenta with big boobies.

Granted I don’t understand these things, but I thought the main thing about art was to reach the heart rather than exercise the mind. If I actually have to school myself in art to understand and appreciate it, then how is it different from science?

The same goes for music. I felt incredibly old and ignorant yesterday as I watched the Grammies. People, who in my mind were very frankly singing (if you were lucky,i.e, the rest of it was rap) a lot of bad notes and were obviously striving more for volume than tunefulness, got standing ovations. Standing ovations no less. The audience got to their wildly expensive designer heels and put their bejeweled hands together to applaud men and women who came and talked or shouted their way through 5 minutes. Then Andrea Boccelli and Josh Groban sang an operatic tribute to Luciano Pavarotti that, even though opera is not my thing, took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. Finally, I thought, a performance suitable for the Grammies. But the beautiful people just sat firmly in their seats as if to say “Yawn, singing in tune is so passé. And it didn’t have the word ‘fuck’ in it even once!”

I KNOW I sound exactly like my father here, but that’s how I feel nowadays. I feel bewildered and unhappy that what I find beautiful and touches my heart is considered laughable by all the rest. Admit to liking music by the Eagles, The Corrs, or Mariah Carey’s older stuff and you’re just asking to be lynched in a musically knowledgeable crowd. (Even MENTION Bryan Adams and you’ll have to change your name and move to another town.) I know much more about music than I know about art, but I still have to disagree with the intellectual school who insist that Bob Dylan is a great singer (he can’t sing, people! He’s a GREAT poet.) and contradict the ‘homeboys’ of the other school who swear by Kanye West. (He don’t sing no song, my brudders, he only talk, y’all.)

There is of course no accounting for tastes and I respect that. What I don’t respect is the way people go by herd instinct and claim they LOVE stuff which will make them fit in. That’s what I’m ranting about here. The people who had been touched by Andrea Boccelli yesterday (and I’m SURE there were many) should’ve had the courage to get to their feet and applaud him (regardless of the fact that he couldn’t see them;)) and those who thought Kanye West makes crap music should have stuck to their seats like glue.

And now, I shall put my things in order and write my will, before I die of old age (which sounds imminent) or the pitchfork wielding lynch mobs show up at my door.:)

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