art’istory

You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find a way back, but if you destroy their history …

fire away

… you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed“.

I went to see  the movie …

life thief

… The Book Thief recently. What I had read about it suggested I might find a little kinship with my past.

I didn’t.

I’m pleased to report that I intuitively walked out shortly before most of the cast were annihilated:

The family is reunited only for a short time though as one night the city is bombed and no air raid siren alerts the citizens. Hans, Rosa and Rudy’s family … have been killed in the blast. Liesel was spared from the bombing by falling asleep in the basement … Rudy is brought out of his house by neighbors and he is barely alive. He begins to tell Liesel that he loves her but he dies before he can finish the sentence … During this scene, the Angel of Death is heard speaking again about how he received the souls of the dead“.

The movie was yet another ode to “the grave”.

I’m stunned by the
Western
fetishwith death.

This article is dedicated to the living.
As such it contains some outrageous suggestions
to stimulate healthy heart function.

~  ~  ~

Just before the movie started there was a preview of (yet another) WWII movie – The Monuments Men –  based on the “true” story of ‘heroic’ men & women who risked their lives to save ‘art treasures’ from the Nazis.

grave digging

Job descriptions included:

protecting and safeguarding civilization’s most important artistic and cultural treasures from armed conflict during World War II

to avoid the destruction of 1000 years culture

Today’s opening quote comes from that movie:

You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find a way back, but if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed

All through what I stayed to watch of the The Book Thief, that phrase kept coming back to me.

The idea that culture is pivotal to our ‘humanity’ is as common & unquestioned as chem trails.

The Book Thief assures itself of …

patriot

… cultural patriotism
by serving up …

hollywood lessons

…  the historically obligatory
Nazi book burning scene.

Yet for the first time ever, that sacrilegious scene failed to have the correct effect on me. I began to wonder:

What would it be like if all ALL existing art …

blank

… disappeared?

How much would it matter?

Are our cultural ‘treasures’
beneficial & life-giving,
or simply another …

sacred cow

sacred cow?

Just what is culture?

the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively

The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought

Where was its etymological birth?

The modern term “culture” is based on a term used by the Ancient Roman orator Cicero … where he wrote of a cultivation of the soul or “cultura animi”, using an agricultural metaphor … as the highest possible ideal for human development

Isn’t that interesting? Especially when we consider that agriculture has never been known for its “interest” in …

till dusk

… human development.

To condemn all of humankind to a life of full-time farming, and in particular, arable farming, was a curse indeed“ ~ Against the Grain

If culture was birthed in agriculture, then let us use agriculture to explore it. As you read the following, allow your mind to weave …

gleaners

agriculture
with ‘the arts’:

There is a distinction to be made between what I have called  agriculture and simply growing food … The difference is that the goal of agriculture is not feeding people; it is …

plantation

… the accumulation of wealth. What agriculture grows is not food but commodities, grain not to eat but to …

grain

… store, trade, and process. Consider the range of plants humans consume, the hundreds of species. That’s food. Consider that two-thirds of our calories come from wheat, rice, and maize. Add sugar and you have a nearly complete picture of commodities … these commodities have a fundamental and key distinction from the rest of food; they are…

on tour

storable and interchangeable and close to currency in their liquidity; in fact they are …

traded

traded in markets just as currency is. They form the basis for the accumulation of wealth, and have done so for ten thousand years

Once upon a time gold was a shiny metal used to make pretty statues. Then it got turned into currency.

The Arts = currency.

art morgue

They are consistently associated with the wealthy or wealthy institutions. They are used as a symbol of status, success, power.

Why is it that artistic creations have worth because of WHO created them?

If there is …

questionable

… doubt about the ‘parentage’ of a ‘work of art’ millions of dollars can disappear in an instant.

This is exactly the same mindset that equates the worth of a child with who its …

parentage

… parents are.

So a work of art is known as “a Picasso” or “Beethoven’s 9th symphony” or a “Hemmingway novel” or a “Kubrick movie”. I wonder how much attention these creations …

names

… would actually receive
without their pedestalised ‘creator-parents’?

I have nothing against art. I studied art history at school & have long felt an affinity with it.

Nor do I have nothing against literature – I enjoyed that at school too.

But that’s kind of the problem.

Why are we studying it?

Why has it been made so much a part of our education curriculum? And by curriculum I also mean the media & entertainment education system. Very, very few people have seen even a fraction of the “great” paintings, yet most can …

recognition

… name their creators
in an instant.

Most people can quote at least a few lines from ‘Shakespeare’ even though that entity …

never stops

has been dead nearly 400 years.

The Arts = currency

Can you spot the flaw in that creation equation?

Currency bows …

creator

… to a showy creator

while

Life bows …

bow

… to the creation.

Anything placed under patronage of the gods always deserves closer scrutiny:

not amused

The Nine Muses were Greek goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects. They were the daughters of Zeus, lord of all gods, and Mnemosyne, who represented memory

Question:

How many people do you know whose lives & abilities have actually been …

art for who

… nourished & strengthened by absorbing the art of the ‘great ones’?

And by arts I mean any member of the ‘family’ of art – painting, sculpture, music (all flavours), literature, opera, ballet, plays, poetry etc – let’s not leave anything out of this equation.

I’m not denying that people enjoy them. But that’s not my question. What I want to know is how many people you know who have created something wonderful in their lives because of what they have …

the lesson today is how to die

… seen, heard or learned
from these ‘great ones’?

Ok then now how many do you know who have been …

detonation st

… sensorially over-stimulated?

How many gut-weakened because they could never do anything as “good” as that?

How many have even tried to ‘have a go’ at something?

What I’m suggesting here is that the way ‘art’ is ‘done’ in our world leads to a lessening of life. I remember Edward de Bono saying something along the lines that art has failed humanity because it hasn’t taught them anything – it just makes statement about what already exists.

What is at the heart of art?

What follows are some ridiculously over the top suggestions
or are they?

Artistically sacrilegious proposal #1:

The majority of art is trauma-based because humanity is trauma-based. The need to tell our unheard-stories is so strong that it will not be silenced. In artists it is not only woven through their art but may even be the reason why they developed their own …

trauma

… particular art-form in the first place.

  • if art oozes trauma what does this suggest about why ‘art’ is so ‘valuable’ to the ptb?
  • if art some kind of living record of pain, who gains from this?
  • what does idealizing trauma do to the human psyche?

I have no doubt that we are creators, but to my mind what we have created so far has been fiercely dictated by …

inhuman

… dehumanization on every level.

We cannot look to any existing art to lead the way. It is time to look to ourselves to create something that hasn’t been here before:

Another possibility is that of a new Renaissance, one on which people are involved with their lives, their growth, & their own continuing learning in the creative process. This is different ground than we have seen before. We cannot use our old assumptions, values, biases, premises, or structures. But neither can we change if we are motivated by conflict, dissatisfaction, or disorientation

Artistically sacrilegious proposal #2:

When an artist dies their work should be ‘phased out’ to allow the living the freedom to continue creating anew. If an artist has truly contributed while alive, their influence will live on through those they artistically ‘touched’. Every day the sea clears the shores …

Image4178

… for the next day’s creations – why should art be any different?

  • by relying on dead artists to ‘stimulate us’ we deny our own life force
  • by relying on dead artists to ‘enlighten’ us we throw ourselves back into a time that no longer exists & deny current reality
  • dead artists make no mistakes & take no risks so their value as a source of inspiration is redundant.
  • dead artists often have a history of suicide – never a good influence.
  • life belongs with the living

Let’s face it, most of us have a suspicion there is much more to life than what we have been led to expect … possibilities that there are dimensions to ourselves, depths of our being, & heights to our aspirations that are lurking just below the surface …

no more fear

… Despite years of attempts by relatives, friends, acquaintances & society to bring us to our senses, the desire & impulse to reach for what is highest in us is still there … perhaps we are only a shadow of our future self, & the subtle persistent force that nags at our consciousness – to be a creator, one who brings into existence creations that previously lived only in one’s innermost dimensions

Artistically sacrilegious  proposal #3:

Living artists should be anonymous:

unknown

  • this would put all the focus on the creation instead of the creator
  • anonymity would allow oh so many people who fear criticism & censure to begin to create
  • by focusing on the unnamed creation before our eyes or ears, we are freed to choose what we do & do not like.

Artistically sacrilegious  proposal #4:

Pack away all existing art forms & begin from scratch.

To create something new, sometimes something old must end

Create multiple new art forms that embrace humanization as the goal of our species.

I now believe there is no such thing as humanity – not because it can’t exist but because it has never yet existed.

In reading Richard Manning’s …

grainy

… “Against the Grain’ my whole understanding of the past of the human species was radically revised. Humans have been nothing more than farmed animals – starved, abused, workhorses – it is really not possible that the ‘art’ they created was ever healthy or life-centred.

Recognising what was is however an important part of choosing a different future:

we can transcend the consequences we have put into motion. Cause and effect are suspended. Past actions do not become manifested in future outcomes. The past, no matter what it has been, is no longer a dynamic that must play itself out. Not only do we recognize the past is over, it is no longer at issue. We are able to re-create our lives anew

We simply cannot rely on anything that currently exists to pull us into a new future – we have to do this work ourselves – starting now:

What could motivate this change? Nothing short of rethinking what we are doing, how we are living, what our lives are about, where we are going, & what we want to create. There are horizons you have not encountered yet that lie before you as you begin to travel the road of creating“

When you know the operational principles of anything, you can begin to make up your own rules, and even change those rules when it makes sense

Perhaps you would like to reread the opening quote & wonder about what was really said there.

~  ~  ~

Text in this colour from Against the Grain ~ Richard Manning

Text in this colour from Robert Fritz

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February 9, 2014. Uncategorized.

23 Comments

  1. Brian replied:

    This site has some really interesting and in-depth ideas. I find it very entertaining, and the words are captivating!

    I feel like my life has been blessed because of certain music propped up by popularity. I doubt I would have made any of my musical explorations without the help of old musical recordings.

    Is my ability to find these obscure old recordings worth the entirety of the Babylon system to hold it up? Definitely not. But while I’m here, I’ll enjoy it, as I see it as just a different type of garden to explore.

    Perhaps my own musical expression could have benefitted from a cultureless youth in certain ways. I’d have no notion of this “theory” nonsense, and I think theory is an extremely limiting set of ideas about how things “ought to be”, as if the beauty of a piece can be quantified. Certainly in this hypothetical universe I’d have no other works to compare my own to, and therefore no real way to apply criticism beyond the satisfaction of expression.

    It could be possible to attain this state and yet still hold on to this preservation of potentially therapeutic and inspiring art. But perhaps the art is only therapeutic or inspiring because of its cultural context, I’m not sure.

    Cheers for the thought-provoking article!

    • alex robinson replied:

      Cheers Brian
      This is such a huge topic that it was very difficult to say what I was trying to say – indeed one person alone simply can’t do it – so instead I tried to stir up the pot.

      I’m not ‘against’ any of the arts, indeed books may have kept me sane during my teenage years – but now that I look back I see that they didn’t help me, they simply gave me enough crumbs to survive on – & that’s more the point of this article – if you have lived on crumbs you may never realise there’s a whole world of fresh vegetables & fruits out there that you can use to nourish yourself & others.

  2. Pete Wagner replied:

    Another deep stimulating morning coffee journey. What you do Alex, is exactly this, something new. The complete 10 minute ponder!

    But in light of things, I figure just about every work of art or artifact from the past, certainly those well-known, have gotten screened and deemed acceptable by the same powers that have likely destroyed or distorted potentially all that not to their liking. Of course there are stories of libraries being burned, and just in recent history, looting of Iraqi and Egyptian artifacts. It seems there is constant, perpetual filtering and substituting one artistic message with another more “serving” of the intended world view. One might ask why Iran “needs to be stopped” (where are they going?), …perhaps Iran holds artifacts that do not support this modern world view?

    Dare we tie religion, and our true origins, into this discussion, as here it may all come together in finer light. How many ancient texts, artifacts, works of art, etc. must have existed prior to the Old Testiment (where Moses meets Yahweh in a TENT in the Sinai!) that do not exist today because of the message they might have conveyed?

    But yes, let’s forget the past, all just water under the bridge. Besides, history has indeed been all “bunked up” with no signs of ever heading in any other direction. Perspectives should be formulated by the present, the here and now. Actually they are and always have been, despite the foolery. What is “presented” as the past is only an imagination formed by emotions (politically manipulated) and dubious props. Let’s just laugh at it. We know modern food (what goes in mouth) is largely junk, why wouldn’t the non-edible type (that goes in other orifaces) not also be? What if we could vomit it all out? Could our guts (intuition) become more pure?

  3. alex robinson replied:

    Thanks Pete & I think you hit the nail on the head – a 10 minute ponder & then you walk away, keeping anything useful perhaps for a time & letting the rest drop away & then maybe you come up with an even better idea or understanding & then you let that fall as another works better. You certainly don’t stand in a queue to see something that’s “worth” millions of dollars.

    Absolutely we should tie religion in – the bible & all its art spinoffs are definitely included – before we had moving pictures, they were the programmes people watched. I don’t doubt there is power in the artifacts – but how much of that is related to the attention /awe/ fear placed on them by the programmed people – does the attention we give to past objects keep us tied to the past & repeating patterns?

    It seems to me that our cultural icons are the wheat, maize, corn & sugar of this world – that is not a healthy diet.

  4. libyansibyl44 replied:

    I agree this veneration of death through art must end. Why are people willing to pay millions for nick-knacks from the past and old paint on old paper? However, living art does move me. The hallmark of TRUE art is that the artists do not wish to be worshipped or immortalized…they just want to dance or sing or write or paint or whatever it is they do and hope it brings you a joy that can lead you find a greater joy within yourself.

    The spirit of the true artist lives on in their work beyond their deaths in the manner in which they intended it to be received. It evolves into new translations by new young living true artists. It never actually dies no matter how hard this world tries to cheapen it with money. I think we just need to learn to make the distinction between true art and counterfeits.

    And, no, even true art can not save us. But it can help show us how to save ourselves.

  5. alex robinson replied:

    Hello livingsibyl,
    I am learning more & more that everything is about ‘relationship’. Your comments about ‘living art’ fit well into that – if we are ‘in relationship’ with whatever is before us then it makes complete sense that we would need to be in relationship with something living – perhaps dead art worship is a form of necrophilia.

    The biggest point I am trying to make is that we are creators, not reactors / consumers / audiences – I can’t help but think of small children who will be awed by something they see & their immediate desire is to “do or make it themselves” – it seems to me that living artists would be those who inspire us to have a go

  6. suliwebster replied:

    Another great post thankyou.

  7. suliwebster replied:

    I used to love my childrens art and creations when they were little. It was so fresh and unspoilt by endless years of indoctrination.
    I also like the transitory theme that you have introduced here. Things do not need to be endlessly preciously preserved museum (mausoleum) style, exactly as they were. They can morph into new things.

    • Zero Weaver replied:

      That preservation idea takes me right back to ancient Egypt, where it seems much of our slave-culture took root…

    • alex robinson replied:

      Preservation takes preservatives. It takes a lot of effort/chemicals to “hold onto” things after their use-by-date has expired.

      We absorb things, they become part of us (for better or worse), we create new things & those new things of course have a little of the old – that is enough I think.

  8. Max replied:

    Last Friday night, I had a conversation about developements in underground culture with a friend who produces electronic music and is also a music critic. What he observes is that if there is anything remotely new and different, it gets sucked dry within 2 weeks and is then declared as old due to the internet social dynamics. His claim is that things need to be left alone for a while before they can turn into something whole and good. It appears to me that under the consant drive of yessing, people pluck the fruits before they get ripe.

    I also attended a lecture by C-drik (an experimental/electro musician) about experimental music from Asia and Africa. He told us that in certain African countries, it was difficult for him to get his hands on experimental music recordings because people there don’t preserve anything.

    Another friend of mine, who is also an artist, made a statement that when he began to draw, he first tried to be as accurate as possible to reality. He later found out that it is better if you draw totally free. (Alex, he also liked your Ova-pic on facebook, by the way ;-))

    • alex robinson replied:

      Fascinating thoughts Max, I was especially interested in the non-preservation of music – that implies to me that they know they can always create something richer & more ‘present’ than that which was created in the past.

      I was playing around on photoshop when I made that pic – it’s quite amazing what play produces

  9. roobeedoo2 replied:

    Alex, your idea of anonymity has appeal; I can’t help but feel that it’s the signature on art that gives it currency, like a promissory note from the artist (except it will be worth more when the artist is dead).

    This story from over Christmas caught my attention (mostly because of the liver). Can a surgeon be considered an artist?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/nhs/10536883/Surgeon-suspended-over-claims-he-branded-a-patients-liver.html

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=surgeon&allowed_in_frame=0

    • suliwebster replied:

      Brilliant Roob! Kids at school are told to put their name on everything aren’t they? And it must all be their own work, so they can be independently assessed. It isolates them and also encourages individual ownership of work. Films have credits at the end too. I always like the Britney Spears example… She is but the name and the face, the brand label on a very big corporation. Her name and face is what sells, but actually there are lots of others behind the scenes making the whole show go on.
      Another recent one is parents who do their kids homework for them and get the good grades. This is talked about quite openly where I live in Bath, which shows it is acceptable. The kid has the name and face on it. The parent did the work.
      Maybe a mother is an artist because she created the baby? The biggest creation of all? But then the baby carries the name of the father.

      • roobeedoo2 replied:

        Oh Suli, I did my twins homework last week. It was on ‘global warming’. They have no interest in this particular ‘man-made’ subject. So I did it – just enough lip-service with a dash of scepticism thrown in for, you know, the teacher’s benefit ;)

    • alex robinson replied:

      I agree about the signature – is the signature actually more important than the creation I have to wonder?

  10. Zero Weaver replied:

    While reading this article at Through Ancient Eyes – http://throughancienteyes.blogspot.com/2014/02/i-frankenstein-possession-war-that.html – I was lead to a link filled with quotes regarding the concept of selling one’s soul to the devil. This particular quote leapt to my eye: “If you sell your soul to the devil, you get more grain.” This is attributed to the hip-hop artist Drake (etymology = Dragon). Interesting, no?

    • Max replied:

      Who putted the r in Dragon, anyway?

      • Zero Weaver replied:

        Oh wow – Thanks for the clue, Max! Dagon = grain god. In jest, I will say that pirates put the “arrrrrrrr” in this name for a fish-y god.

    • suliwebster replied:

      That is like the idea of the rich man who will never get through the eye of the needle. Selling your soul gets you more grain, more wealth, too fat to fit through. You can only get through if you have nothing material, no grain, no possessions, no money. Then you have your soul complete.
      I think the only way out of this is empty handed. As we arrived in this world, born empty handed, naked. The less stuff you have , art and name labels included, the more spirit and soul.

    • alex robinson replied:

      Yes very interesting – not a good deal either. Maybe hell = grain!

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