Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lawrence Welk

     If you get away from caricatures of life. And think realistically about how actual people are. And think about some person in a routine. Which is most people. Let's imagine a middle-aged woman with frizzy hair. Let's imagine she's married. Let's say the relationship's not perfect. There are low points where she wonders if she can keep on keeping on. And there are high points where she feels immeasureably loved and blessed. She's got a job and it's not an awful job, but she's no mover and shaker. Let's imagine something like those guys on The Office TV show but a little less, you know, pathetic is a good word. And of course much much more realistic because that's what I'm talking about in fact. Reality. One hundred percent. I'm not pointing to any archetypes and it strikes me now as I'm writing that most of the time writing uses archetypes and I'm trying to do the opposite here.
      Now, me, I'm not much of a creature of routine. Or if I have that capasity in me I’ve nurtured the opposite. Pursuing art in college and afterward was about chasing impulse with this knowledge that my ability to draw is some verification of the usefulness of my impulses. And I think all the artists I know have a similar relationship with impulsiveness, and of course you have to be able to manage it too. But if an artist will grant to himself that it’s better that he always be creating, and if he can grant that his drawing is an act of creation, then when he feels that desire to draw after having set out to clean or when he might have planned to go to bed, he ought to draw. In this way, for me, being an artist has led to me being somewhat non routine, in some ways for better and in some ways for worse.
     But it has put me out of touch somewhat with those types of people, but many people I grew up with and respect were people of routine. I'm not talking about Hobbits where routine is romanticized, but I'm even further from pointing toward the beginning part of Fight Club where routine is absolutely abysmal. These are the archetypes that pop in my head that portray people in a routine. I think about going over to my grandma and grandpa's house, and they're watching Wheel of Fortune. And the same dumb commercials keep coming on. Imagine you see the same face day after day. You hit the mute button during the commercials, but you can't make the pictures go away. Or imagine you got the old TV with the rabbit ears, no cable. The only channel that comes in really clear is PBS. Lawrence Welk comes on every Saturday night. And there's not much else to do but watch it. 



      
      It's not bad, but there're all these old people and it's all reruns from the late seventies, and Lawrence Welk is pretty dopey lookin' and he always says "wonderful wonderful" in that familiar unappealing voice. I'm sort of coming in backwardly with a desire to illustrate the need for caricature. I want to really really boil it down to the need. People get caricatures at the amusement parks and they come into it lightheartedly and we somehow come to this idea that it's a frivolous thing, and that's probably to keep our heads in a place where we don't forget that ultimately the humanity and the interaction is of primary importance, but deep down, deep deep down somewhere there is a need that is a need like the need for food, clothing, shelter, love, belonging. And this is where I feel like I might lose you, and that's why I led with the opening bit.
     These little monotonies have some impact. Even if you don't let them get to you and you keep your sanity. Every time you see Lawrence Welk's face on the big box on a Saturday night. And he's got that haircut that he's got and that nose and those crooked teeth. But there he is, and he'll be there again next week at the same time. Deep down within things there's a need for caricatures. Of course nowadays so many people are caught up in all the distractions of the information age, but there are still those stable sorts who keep a tight routine and these sorts of folks will always be around. And these are the sorts of folks who really really dig a good caricature, and if you imagine an archetype rather than a real person, an archetype can appreciate a caricature or even really really enjoy a caricature, but it takes a real person to need one.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My angle on art is that it's a visual thing. it's about visual communication, but I believe it's more than that cuz I'm using written communication to say that, and written communication being visual communication's competitor, I think we can count on it selling visual communication short as much as it can get away with it when you put all the linguistics together. Now if I do manage to communicate my true idea in spite of committing treason against the act of writing in doing so, than it almost seems like my idea can't hold water. But if I don't convince you then I urge you to be wary because it could be because I'm right.

Even the words "visual communication" sound so dull and academic and artless. The point is to get an idea across. And there, "idea" feels so malnourished and sexually depressed. Meanwhile, if I say art, it's almost worse, as I trudge forward through this linguistic sabotage built in from the beginning. "art" is self congratulatory and lazy and greedy and hedonistic.

But the reality that I know because it's the reality that I've experienced is just the opposite. And it's words that frame visual communication in this way and give it a bad name. But it is art that must be beautiful and must communicate. Words are not beautiful for a number of reasons if you need to be convinced. Letters are the most cold and dead of cold dead symbols, and we put them together to make words, also cold and dead, that we put together to make figures of speech, cold and dead, and these are combined to make philosophies, maybe the least cold and dead of all that's cold and dead, but I expect as soon as these have lost their power they will become cold and dead and take the second tier once occupied by figures of speech, and the whole system will be reclassified. Meanwhile the realm of art where from idolatry birthed written characters is alive and well. Be not fooled.

The way we now view television is the way we once viewed movies is the way we once viewed books. It's all candy. Be not fooled. Open your eyes literally, and see beauty and create beauty. There's no better way to live.