Sunday, April 1, 2012

The (how many?) ages of man /1

There is a fantastically great number of paintings in existence entitled the "ages of man," or some variation of that theme. This is a nice one, I think, by Valentin de Boulogne. He portrays four stages: The child, the young man, the middle-aged man and the old man. The painting was completed in 1627, give or take a year in either direction. Whether one believes in three ages or four ages or, as William Shakespeare wrote, seven ages, undoubtedly we change physically and mentally and intellectually and emotionally as our lives progress. (Yes, in many, many ways.) De Boulogne, incidentally, was French, and studied the works of Italian masters . (Who does not?) He was particularly influenced by one of my favorites, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. You may have noticed some of Caravaggio's work on my pages in previous posts if you have come here before. In the meanwhile, look at the faces of de Boulogne's man as he travels through the stages of his life, and try to imagine what is going on inside of him, how he is evolving ever more -- or, possibly, diminishing? Another reason I like this painting is because the man in no way resembles me. I have a northern European look about me; you see it, do you not? When you look at my photograph?

"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."
An excerpt from:
All Along the Watchtower
by Bob Dylan

So, you think you have been around, do you?
(Part 1 of 2)

So much of who we are and what we are depends upon our age, which translates more into our experience than our education.

To begin, women mystify me, confuse me, leave me terrified.

Consequently, I will talk only about men as I see them.

In our teenage years, we are uncontrollable sex addicts, learning, discovering, rebelling, feeling every emotion imaginable to our species. Most of us survive it.
When we are in our twenties, we wish to save the world, we are idealists, we hope to accomplish great things and to be remembered as men who cared. Of course, these goals frequently are interrupted by legs, breasts and a wonderful smile. For most of us, we have an eye on members of the opposite sex as much as or more than we do on idealism.

When we are in our thirties, we either are among those trying to relive our twenties and find a teenage girlfriend, or we are among those ready to cut figuratively (and, sometimes, literally) throats to advance our careers, our wealth, our power.
When we are in our forties, we either are among those trying to relive our twenties and find a girlfriend barely out of her teen years, or we are among those who are beginning to realize, in the words of Bob Dylan, that life is but a joke.

Shall I stop with the forties? Oh, what the hell.
When we are in our fifties, we either are among those trying to relive our twenties and find a girlfriend who, at least, looks like she is no older than twenty-five, or we are listening to wives who are prescribing our vitamin pills, our exercise routines, our health diets and .... well, you get the drift.

Obviously, not all men (including me, I am pleased to admit) fall into these categories completely as they journey through life, but this is pretty much how I view things as they exist in America today. And, as I have written before, the man who might reach the age of seventy or eighty and who boldly announces that he has "had a good life and has no regrets and would not change a thing" is a liar or is delusional or is or an absolute idiot.
All I have to do is to walk around the block and see these old creatures (i.e., men) in their yards pulling dandelions, and I ask myself if this is what god (if he exists) designed man to end his life doing? All I have to do is to turn on television and to watch young creatures (i.e., men) burning, looting and begging for their governments to care for them from cradle to grave, and I ask myself if this is what god (if he exists) created mankind to use his intellectual resources to accomplish?

This is why I frequently smile to myself and say, life is but a joke. Dylan had it right. This is why I frequently glare at anyone who comes too near to me uninvited and say to them, (paraphrasing a literary master): "Abandon hope, all ye who approach me (who enter) here."


TheChicGeek said...

Hi Fram :)
What a wonderful picture! This painting is truly beautiful. What is so amazing to me is how little we as human beings have changed through our existence on this planet. This painting is from the 1600's and yet we would find probably identical emotions on faces of modern day men...just different outfits and hairstyles. Fascinating to me.
I don't feel as you that life is a joke. Life is a gift to be cherished and lived well. Sometimes it doesn't feel that way or is not lived that way, but we must always remember to appreciate the small stuff while wading through the "jokes" and the bad stuff. Always have hope!
I hope your birthday month was a fun one for you. The older we get the longer we seem to stretch the celebration. Maybe we are becoming more wise to know that our days are numbered so we must make the most of each and every one.
Love and a Big Hug,

Fram Actual said...

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly .... two visits in about two weeks after you have been in hiding (or somewhere) for months and months and months. I think you might be ready to rejoin the sea of blogs again.

Yes, it is a great painting. Once upon a time there were many. Today, sadly, the world of art has largely become a barren desert of gimmicks, lackluster skills and sterile work.

I guess I would not be willing to debate with you whether life is a joke or not, but I will say that I am not thinking about the good or the bad times in life or about the people and places we encounter while we walk the road of life. My reference is to what purpose, to what ends, for what reason do we exist? That is where the joke lies, I think.

I guess that my thoughts reflect something I wrote a few weeks ago, that too much time is spent thinking about and talking about how people are the same, while most thought and talk should be spent examining how people are different (unique). Liberals think of the herd, the pack; conservatives think of the individual.

Actually, I usually wish my birthday to pass in silence -- quietly and unnoted. Although, I guess I am not shy about announcing it in my posts. I must be an enigma (he says with a laugh).

Thank you, for the good wishes and the hug, Kelly. It is always pleasant to have you come dashing through.

Bitch said...

Hello dear Fram!
I see your photograph and yes, it looked like you. The European and Northern look.. ha(?)
I also like very much the painter Caravaggio and I have read, that he had a rebellion life, getting most of the time in trouble.. And died young..But he left so beautiful pieces in the greatest museums of the world. Not many, but!!

I don't think, that life is a joke.
This is only a phrase, maybe for a song writer. But it is nice, following your thoughts and your questions.. If their is an answer,
I would happily write it down here.

Wish you a great time for the Easter holidays..
Send you my love with a smile,

Fram Actual said...

As with Kelly, I will not debate the notion that life is but a joke with you, Monika. To believe this or not to believe this comes from within the mind and the heart of the individual, I think.

Bob (Zimmerman) Dylan's ancestral roots are from Ukranian and Lithuanian Jewish origins, and he grew up in the dismal mining country of northern Minnesota. He wrote this song while recovering from a motorcycle accident and during a period when he became fascinated with the Bible. The song is made up of Biblical allusions, and often is analyzed and parsed like a work of poetry.

An examination of the lyrics is what makes it fun to think about and to form an opinion about "All Along the Watchtower” and about the very concept that our existence might be a joke. And some, like me, use the song to spread our view that life is an intentional or unintentional joke being played on us all.

As I have written at times, I miss the college days of spending hours drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and discussing life, art, poetry and whatever. Writing a post now and then sort of serves this function for me now.

Thank you, Monika, for coming here and leaving your thoughts and your smile and a sense of who you are. May your Easter be a happy one.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter Dear Fram!

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for the wish, Anita. I hope your Easter Sunday was pleasing and pleasant.

Thank you, too, for the song.

Bob Dylan wrote "All Along the Watchtower," sang it and recorded it, but Jimi Hendrix made it famous and memorable.

You have been gone a long time. I was beginning to worry about you.

kitt@ro... said...

dear friend,
keep walking.... you are not alone... :)

Fram Actual said...

Do I address my response to Kitt? Well, I will this time.

Whether I am alone or not, I often wonder. That I will keep walking, I have no doubt. Or, in my case, I might take to a waterway at times.

Thank you, for making an appearance here and for leaving your words. I appreciate your presence.

Wind said...

'Abandon hope, all ye who approach me...' Hmmm...
For whom there is no hope, life is a joke, I think....but as Bob Dylan said "..this is not our fate'..
We have hopes and dreams, do we? To tell you the truth, I preffer to be born at 80 years and after that, to 0 year...

Speaking of ages...I don't like this concept...I am an immortal princess and I will be like that until the end...
My best regards to you, my immortal

Fram Actual said...

Yes, I really do believe you are a princess, Daliana.

Once upon a time, there was a young lady who told me she was a princess searching for a prince. Before I had time to reply, she added that on second thought, a prince was not enough for her, that she would settle for no less a man than a king so she could be a queen.

I told her that "ruled" me out because I was not even a prince, but merely a wandering knight.

Each of us has a role in the drama entitled "Life." Recognizing our role is not always easy. A princess and a knight might travel together, but a knight and a queen are from different galaxies. Just ask Lancelot and Guinevere.

You see? My mind is disorganized and wandering today.

I will start over. Yes, I believe you are ....

Something special ....