Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thoughts from an aimlessly wandering mind

It has not been unusual for me to include a photograph of my current "work station" with a post. Here we go again. This is my outdoor station, in a screened patio, one of two I am now using. An indoor station, obviously, is the other. I might run a photo of it on another day. There is not much to this station because thunderstorms with high winds and fierce rains are common in Minnesota during the summer months. I would rather not have too much here to pick up and carry as I run for cover should a storm erupt. Anyway, visualize me sitting before the laptop computer, sipping wine, listening to music and typing away, and you might also then be able to imagine all my secrets.

Does art follow life or ....

Not that I ever have been on speaking terms with Oscar Wilde, but one of his "notions" drifted through my mind a few days ago when I was visiting the blog of another. The concept was this: Does art follow life or does life follow art?

For centuries after the classical Greek writers, it generally was accepted that the purpose of art is to serve as a model for such things as truth and beauty. "Mimesis," therefore, became the accepted premise that art would imitate life; art follows life in the pursuit of truth and beauty.

Then, along came Oscar, who declared the opposite was true. Writing in an essay entitled, "The Decay of Lying," Wilde said this: "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life."

Wilde said the self-conscious aim of life is to find expression (certainly an idea with which most of us who are engaged upon the sea of blogs would agree), and art offers a means to express and to realize that expression.

He added that life and the natural world are not actually what we perceive them to be, but what artists have taught us to believe they are -- in effect, sold us, convinced us, to accept what often is opposed to our innate instincts. Poets and painters were the chief architects of this deception. An example: To be in the midst of a raging storm in a dark and threatening forest ordinarily would not be a pleasant experience. However, the artist or the poet could portray the situation to be wonderful and beautiful -- and, convince us that it actually is just that. 

Explaining this in my own terms, I have always believed that art is the creation of beauty. (I could be wrong.) And, even accepting reality and acknowledging that different people have different concepts of beauty, I find it difficult, for instance, to comprehend how anyone can see a trace of beauty in a Picasso painting. (You disagree? Oh, well.) For this reason, I accept Wilde and believe that life imitates art, and I wave goodbye to the mimesis of the ancient Greeks.

Oh, yes. Back to speaking terms with Oscar. Quite impossible, you see, as he lived and died nearly a century before my time.

For a long while, too, he could not speak to me from the grave as so many others have through their writing. Wilde, you see, was among those I ignored for a number of years because I despised him as a man. But, in the end, he has been among those who taught me another lesson: You can despise a man for his lifestyle, but still respect him for the power of his intellect.

On the path to infinity

For today, ladies and gentleman, the prince among bears has selected two versions of a combination of two songs by the band Journey: "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime," which were among the pieces to appear on an album called "Infinity" thirty-three years ago.

(When I was in my twenties, I thought I would die at age thirty-three. Since I did not, my assumption now is that I will die at some other double-digit age at some point along the line. [At least, I do not recall dying then. Tell me if I actually did but failed to notice, will you?] Sorry. Getting silly again.)

First, is a version which shows the lyrics -- for those who are interested in music as poetry. Last, is a version which shows the band in a live performance -- for anyone who likes to see the faces behind the music.

The lead singer is Steve Perry, while Gregg Rolie is doing his share of the vocals from behind the keyboards. The guitar work is nice, but nothing to write home about.

I do not know about you, but these two songs bring me to a sort of emotional high whenever I hear them. They form about as powerful a ballad as any performed during an era of magnificent voices singing beautiful expressions of love. White Bear says he thinks it is cool stuff.


Wind said...

The Sun is almost awake, every morning telling another story.
Today , about orange and blue.

Nice patio, but no Mr. White Bear?

I think that in a way, life is a work of art itself. So much beauty
around us only to be able to see...

My morning coffee foam has a heart shape...

See you soon!

Kaya said...

Very nice working place, Fram. And it's quiet and peaceful. Thunderstorms... We have right now monsoon season and a lot of isolated thunderstorms.

Oscar Wilde. I think art follows life but it distorts it; sometimes in a very astonishing way.

I like Oscar Wilde a lot. Of course, he was arrogant in many ways.

And later your post is getting more complicated. I think it doesn't matter for art what reality is. What matters how an artist sees it. That is very interesting. Sometimes I wonder would be my life different if I would see things under different angles. Would it be more simple?

Once you wrote that beauty is complicated.

Picasso paintings for example. I truly believe that he decided to challenge the dull and boring world with his paintings. He challenged our imagination. And you did the same Fram Actual at the beginning of your post. You said if we will use our imagination and try to visualize you we might know your secrets.


Greetings from Kaya.

Fram Actual said...

My morning was quite different than that which you experienced, Wind. Mine was dark and gray with flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder.

I awoke to the sound of a storm warning siren about 0530, got up, made a cup of instant coffee, went out onto the patio and enjoyed the sights and sounds. No need for a poet or a painter to influence me.

After a half-hour, I went back to bed. I lay there for more than an hour thinking, before slipping off into sleep again.

White Bear? I am a bit embarrassed to say the little scamp stayed inside all day watching cowboy films on television. He had taken one step outside earlier in the day and turned around and retreated back indoors. "We northern bears prefer air conditioned comfort to heat and humidity," he said in a rather arrogant voice.

Yes, beauty surrounds us. Of that there is no doubt, and also there is no doubt we usually are too busy or too distracted to realize it until someone points it out to us. I suppose I think part of the responsibility of living is to encourage others to see the beauty of life in each other and all around us. You certainly do this.

Perhaps, the heart in your coffee is an omen. I think you should drink more of this coffee.

Take care, Wind. See you here and there.

Fram Actual said...

You complicate my life, Kaya, but in a good way. You make me think.

Life follows art, but distorts it. Yes, that is another way of saying what Oscar Wilde was saying, I think, and he put the blame (if one would care to call it that) directly at the feet of painters and poets.

A person can never be sure of what would happen in a hypothetical past, but I have a feeling Wilde would laugh the first time he saw a Pablo Picasso painting -- a cubist or surrealist Picasso, I mean. Actually he was quite a good painter before he "invented" a new style. My thought is that he did this simply to be recognized and to make money. (Sorry, but I can be very sarcastic at times about the motivations of people.)

Yes, Picasso challenged our imagination, I agree. Fine and dandy. What I do not understand is why the public bought into his work. Picasso's painting was a success of marketing, I think, rather than a success of art.

In life, if there were no rules, no laws, there would be chaos and anarchy. I think the same is true in art. Picasso and others choose to challenge. There is nothing wrong with that. I prefer classical paintings myself, the Renaissance, basically traditional schools. Painters such as Claude Monet also invented a new style, experimenting with light and colors for the most part, and were successful at creating true beauty with a style which came to be known as impressionism.

I see Picasso as a painter who created chaos and was an excellent salesman. I see Monet as painter and an artistic genuis who created beauty. The public sees both these men as artists. Such is life.

This is getting long, but one more point. Communication is the most difficult task individuals face in life, I absolutely believe. This matter of what is art comes down to communication, too. Semantics. Definitions. Define art.

My definition would be considerably more narrow than that of most people. This is true in most aspects of living. What many people (perhaps most) call living, I would call simply waiting for death. Semantics, you see?

Thank you, for your marvelous comment, Kaya, and for making me think a bit.

Kaya said...

I am sure that Oscar Wilde would laugh when he saw the Picasso paintings. I don't like Picasso. He doesn't touch my heart. Yes, he created chaos because of his own dissatisfaction with life, I think. I always thought that he was missing something in his life. He had many loving women but never let them be close to him. He treated them as "gloves".

When they were worn out ( I mean he lost interest in them) he threw them out of his life. He was looking and looking for something that doesn't exist in this life. I mean an ideal woman, and ideal life, an ideal success.

"What many people (perhaps most) call living, I would call simply waiting for death." Is it a little bit strong, Fram? What do you mean by this? Do you mean that we live on autopilot, thoughtless autopilot?

Ok, it's getting a long comment.

I enjoy talking with you, Fram. You know a lot. Sometimes I feel that I am not on your level of knowledge but it doesn't matter. I learn, I share, I think.

Greetings from Kaya.

Fram Actual said...

In a way, you have a generous view of Picasso, Kaya, in that you see him as a searcher for meaning to his life. He might well have been. I do not have a strong opinion regarding his life because I only know bits and pieces of it.

All I know is that I do not care for his work, and my dilemma when I think of his work is my inability to understand why it is considered anything more than a marketing gimmick, than a conversation piece, than a joke he was playing on art critics and the public at large.

Yes, my comment about many people simply waiting for death is a bit harsh. And, yes, waiting on autopilot. It is my nature to be a hard critic. Remember, to criticize is to point out not only the negative, but the positive. So, it works in both directions.

Perhaps, in this instance I am being a bit unfair, but, remember, even a very gentle man, Henry David Thoreau, made these observations:

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."


"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation."

I will leave it at that for now, but, yes, I think most people go to their graves in the same manner as lemmings go to the sea.

By the way, if you have not read Thoreau, I would urge you to do so. It is brilliance disguised as simplicity.

Yes, Kaya, our discussions are fun: We learn, we share, we think .... we wonder.

Kaya said...

Fram, I didn't read Thoreau. I have his book at home and to be honest every time I begin to read him I feel lost after a few pages. I will try to read him again......

I am sure you read his book from the first page to the last. Simplicity... I am looking for it everywhere and I make things more complicated. How I want to simplify everything. And I can't. I like this expression of yours about brilliance disguised as a simplicity.

Have a nice evening Fram and I talk to you soon.

Fram Actual said...

It is probable the only writers whose entire published work I have read are our old buddy, Ernie Hemingway, and (can you guess ??) Ian Fleming. There are other more contemporary writers whose novels I have read as they were being published, but stopped after, say, a half-dozen or eight because they were evolving into the same story with a few different twists.

I have spent considerable time with Thoreau, but not read him in his entirety.

Something else I said a few days ago stays in my mind. It is something I have tried to say before in many sentences and many paragraphs, but this time it came out in my mind clearly and concisely: Home is a person, not a place.

Nothing is new under the sun, an anonymous genius wrote in Ecclesiastes, and a Biblical verse set me on the path to this definition of "home" some months ago, although I did not realize it at the time: ".... whither thou goest, I will go ...."

Do not panic, I am not turning into a religious zealot. But, truth is truth no matter where one might find it. Reality is reality and clarity is clarity and religion is relevant to neither.

Anyway, I think that concept sort of began becoming the definition of both home and love for me at some point along the line not too very long ago.

The last few paragraphs are my response to achieving simplicity in life. The more inquisitive the mind, the more difficult to accomplish simplicity in life. And .... in a physical sense, it might be necessary to retreat to a Walden Pond as Thoreau did. In a mental sense, I think it is necessary to care for another more than for oneself. Most certainly, too, it is placing greater value on the aesthetic than on the material.

Due to the mood I am in at the moment, I might add that money, no fear of anything or anyone, a strong right arm and a Colt .45 pistol come in handy toward achieving simplicity in life, too -- but, they serve no real purpose without the hand of another to hold.

How much sense this makes, I am not certain, but "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime" just came on the radio to blend in with the cool, damp, night air and the Grand Marnier. I am "chair dancing." I once did that very often, and mentioned it in my posts, but rarely these days.

This is more like one of my rambling posts than a return comment. Whatever .... see you around, Kaya ....

Kaya said...

Good morning, Fram.

The sun also rises....

That is priceless thought "Home is the person, not a place". And it touched my heart. There is a whole philosophy in this sentence. I agree with this wonderful thought. Completely. Home... I am asking this morning what does home mean to me.

I thought that we can't go home again. We can't return to the place where we used to live. It will never be the same. Right now I began to believe that we never leave our home. Our home carries our shadows, the dreams, the fears. Yes, dragons of our home under our skin. And geography has little meaning to it.

Home is the place where we go inside ourselves, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.

I think that you have to write a post about Home. That would be a great post. I am sure, Fram.


Fram Actual said...

Good evening, Kaya.

The moon shines down on me just now, which suits me fine.

The concept of "Home" is interesting. In terms of the conventional home town, I hitch-hiked out of mine with a friend three days after we graduated from high school, and I did not go back there for about twenty years.

There were a few reasons for this, but after a few years, the primary reason became this: I wanted to keep the image I had of it from my childhood days in my mind, unblemished, forever. If I never went back, the town could not change, I reasoned, and would always be the same as it had been while I was growing up.

Eventually, I did go back. I am sorry I ever did, and try to block the changes I saw from my mind. I do not wish ever to go back again.

Anyway .... I do not think I will be writing a post about any concept of "Home" in the near future. I plan on taking another hiatus from my blog as soon as I have published another post or two -- a month or two or three -- to concentrate on other things. Which does not mean I will not visit your blog. Anyway, in a few days, I will explain things a bit more.

As always, thanks, Kaya, for your neat comment.

Kaya said...

Fram, it's too sad that you go again to disappear for a long time. I understand that you have a lot to do and you have a life beside your blog. What can I say? Not much. But don't disappear for a long-long time.

When I entered the sea of blogs I found several writing blogs. They were well written , almost literary, and so boring to read. They never hooked my attention and I never returned back to read them again. They were boring.

But I am still your reader and always will be. No matter what will happen, I will always read your posts, Fram, Of course, if you continue to write them. And I hope you will continue.


Kaya said...

About returning back home. I read what you wrote about it and I thought how I tried to return back to my home where I grew up as a kid. I also was sorry to do that. What I found out in this place was an yard sale and many scattered old blankets on the ground. And home was gone... It was a wooden home, very old.

I remember that I found among junk the glittering gold shoes with high heels and bought them almost for nothing. And this evening I listened to my favorite music and danced in these stupid old shoes.

That was my farewell to my home.

Fram Actual said...

Two or three months is not a long time, Kaya, and sometimes I interrupt these lapses with a post or two if I feel there is a reason to do so or simply am in the mood to do so.

Regarding home as a place, I think your tale and mine form examples of why (semantics, again) a house never truly can be a home in the sense that I mean it or a town never truly can be a home in the sense that I mean it. Language, too often, is imprecise.

The only real definition of "Home," in my mind, should reflect a sense of and a satisfaction in actual belonging. That, I think, can only be found within yourself or through another living, breathing, caring, giving individual. A person might "love" the house she lives in or the city he lives in or the countryside that surrounds their region, but those are only transient meanings and secondary to a greater sense of inner peace and calm and confidence -- a sense of belonging.

The only thing I know with certainty is that I am farther away from "Home" at this moment in time than I ever have been before in my life. I need a jolt of positive lightning to strike.

So, thank you, Kaya, for your compliments about my writing here. I do appreciate your thoughts and your words.

Something special ....