About Me

My photo
Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, April 2, 2011


If you look at life from the point of view of sand on a beach, high tides re-shape your surface twice a day. You are re-born.
Or they wipe it clean twice a day. You are obliterated.
Depends if you look at tides as half-full or half-empty.

On the one hand it would be great to start over all the time - wipe out all your mistakes, your disappointments, your failures. On the other hand, how frustrating, how shifting to see your best work wash away.

Art has waged this battle between change and permanence for a relatively short time. Before the 20th century, the world seemed to have a plan, or at least a rational system, behind it, and a painting or a book was created with some expectation that it would last. We don't believe that anymore. Many artists have become cynical, arch, self-referential, as if only what one personally feels or thinks could possibly have any relevance. They've lost their place in nature. They believe there is no reality worth showing if man-made or natural disasters roll so regularly through our times.

I think this explains, maybe only in part, the extreme popularity of TV crime shows, sci-fi movies, detective stories, thriller novels. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, people still want shape, they want beginnings and endings, they want a battle between good and evil that ends with a satisfying bang, not an artistic whimper. It hardly matters who wins, as long as something happens, with consequences.

Nevertheless, we can capture beauty, no matter how fleeting. If there's no obvious plan, then at least we can express common goals and feelings. I find this lacking in art these days and have started to read back in the 19th century again. Oh, and of course, those detective stories that slip in and out of the mind so easily, whose morals rise and fall with such satisfying regularity.

1 comment:

Wayne Foote said...

This is so amazing! Thank you for sharing with us!!