You’ll be a gargoyle soon

They said, five hundred years, mate, and we gonna make you a gargoyle. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the entrance lion job ain’t that bad.

Stand guard in front of the City Council, they promised, for five hundred years, and – bang! – next thing you know you are up there, watching the roofs, bathing in the wind. Great view, and the right to snatch some dumb pigeon off the cornice after sunset. Perks for high-flyers, y’know.

They didn’t tell me the last two hundred years would be a touristic nightmare.

FLorence, near palazzo Veccio

FLorence, near palazzo Veccio

It was more or less fine before the two-legged invented photography. Lemme snap one goddamn tourist with a camera, and I’ll stand a hundred years more! My teeth ache and crrrrrumble ’cause I don’t use’em as I should. And the bastards keep taking pictures of my useless jaws.

Hey, you, to the left of me! I can see you, periferrrrrally. I’ll have your face catalogued.

Big bosses say, no, ye can’t have tourists. Not even after dark. The gargoyle promotion is only for the lions who’ve shown endurance. Then you can command pigeons to shit on idiots with telescopic lens. Not until then. Blast!

I’m having absurd dreams lately. I think too much of the gargoyle job, I guess. Sometimes I imagine myself a stork watching the ocean.

I am sure I took it in Bali. Or Mexico.

I am sure I took it in Bali. Or Mexico.

Y’know my problem? I never fly. I dream of flying, but I can only conjure up a bird that shows off endurance. Sometimes, I am just standing there on one leg, like that French mime by Uffizi. Except that I am a bird.

I got it in Mexico

I got it in Mexico

It’s an evil loop. I think gargoyles are more like birds with a shitload of endurance and I keep dreaming of birds standing like guards at Buckingham Palace. We had a mime here that mocked it up on the piazza fifty years ago. I need a re-training. Or a shrink. I asked if Michelangelo was available for counsel, but my HR boss said he only handles serious stuff, like Dissociative Identity Disorder. Yeah, that’s multiple personality. David has a huge problem with that ’cause he’s here, in front of the Palazzo, and in the Art Academy at the same time. Mickey’s full-time on that case, so they offered me an anger management course by Savonarola.

I remember the guy. He was burning books right here on the piazza. He’s nuts, totally. He needs my councel on endurace instead.

Hey, dude, where are you going? Wait! Don’t go! We may not have had a good start, but I’ve come to like you, sort of. No-no-no-no! Stay for a coupla’ years more, at least!

I’ll tell you the joke Da Vinci made up about Medici! I’ll tell you who Mona Lisa really was!

Gone.

Bastarrrrrrrrrrrrrrd!

Ideal man. Almost

Folk art is dying, all across the globe. Impoverished artists with solid art-school background pretend to be “folk”, and push authentic craftsmen and artisans out of business. Luckily Bali remains a place where talent is still passed from father to son in a natural way, untarnished by academic instruction. It may not help with proportions, but it does help to focus on anatomy’s important bits, responsible for the continuation of artistic line. Procreation of creativity at its best.

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I took this photo some years ago, but it is still inspiring

Share this inspiring image with your friends free of any charge, but should you wish to acquire the original, remember that “fixed price” in Bali means you’re a moron if you don’t insist on a 50% discount.

Great grandads and their great grandsons

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These two images are about 75 years apart. Boys in the painting share the dream of becoming pilots. In the 30s, pilots had uniform pants, jackets to kill for, plenty of food stamps and the romantic aura of heroes. It is social realism, which was an art movement as full of lies as the communist idea itself, but this painting is genuine and true.

Boys in the photograph also watch the world in front of them, and also dream of something, but today that “something” is very different from becoming pilots.

The hero today is someone rich, glamorous, and famous. The guy who owns planes, not the one who pilots them.

No, I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just boring and uninspiring.

I haven’t seen a good painting about dreams for ages. Have you?

Art house movies don’t exist

A sure way to make a laughing stock out of oneself is to point at something and denounce it as “low art”. You would be instantly reminded that the most venerated objects of art, from Shakespeare’s plays to Picasso’s paintings, had been seen as “low art” before they were recognised as the summits of culture, and that it is not about art spelt with a capital or lowercase “a”, but your desire to rise above others on a mere claim you’re smarter. Someone is bound to note this is a dumb attempt at self-appreciation as everyone knows today that the concept of high vs.low art is a sales tool to fool the mega-rich out of their money.

Why do people who agree with the above, keep insisting that cinema is either mass-market chewing gum for the brain or high-calorie art-house food for the mind? Why does art house cinema remain the last bastion of the high art myth? There must be something special about art house cinema, that puts it so high on the plinth of intellectualism.

What is it? 

Don’t expect to find an easy answer. Art house cinema is such an ephemeral concept that even the definition of an art film is built on its difference against all other types of movies: “An art film (also known as art movie, specialty film, art house film, or in the collective sense as art cinema) is typically a serious, independent film aimed at a niche market rather than a mass market audience”.

It’s like saying that “art is something that is not not-art”.

“Luke, I am your father, because all the other actors in the Galaxy were not interested”.

“Oscar Wilde is a genius of humourous writing because Dostoevsky is never fun to read”.

Very few things can be defined by negation. Zero, aliens, and god’s existence are among those unseen but useful concepts that can only be described by what they are not.

An alien is anyone who’s not from this planet (whoever they are). US immigration authorities believe this definition also includes people from other countries, whatever they can be, but this comes from a rather strong assumption that the US is a planet.

God exists because it can’t be proven otherwise.

And what is a better chance to experiment with art house movies than to watch the one intent to show God doesn’t exist?

zero

So, I set up a test, with me as the guinea pig, and Terry Gilliam’s latest film, The Zero Theorem, as the stimulus cheese at the end of the labyrinth. The film’s motto: “Nothing is everything” looked a promising negation.

The plot spins around a computer genius who is tasked by his bosses with proving that life as we know it was not a plan of God, but a Big Bang accident. Off-duty, the genius is waiting for a phone call from God, uses a burnt-out Orthodox Christian cathedral for a flat, and wears a WWII black leather coat.

Brevity, clarity, and ability to engage are keys to success in painting or sculpture, but in art house movies complexity, obscurity, and absence of a clear story get to be the required ingredients. Why?!

Perhaps, a mind-boggling revelation awaits the one who musters enough courage to get through the maze of an art house film?

Critical reviews won’t help: all you get is a vague promise of “interesting and satisfying existentialism”. Most people are full to the brim with their own existential stuff to want more from someone else. I, the lab mouse, just want the revelation cheese at the end.

Fortunately, the critic was wrong, and the idea of the film turned out to be much simpler than its plot.

People who believe in God (which is equivalent to the hope of an afterlife) have to lead a restricted life. Some have to stay away from pork, others [try to] abstain from adultery, there’s even a religion that makes the use of elevators a sin on Saturdays.

They also have to spend some 5% to 10% of their life on religious rites (instead of visiting striptease bars or watching reality shows, and I can’t say which option is, actually, worse ), and generally make sacrifices, preparing themselves for the final interview with the doorman of whatever Paradise they’ve chosen to believe in.

So, compared to people who don’t believe in God, and thus are free to allocate their resources in any way they want, the life of a believer must be poorer, on average.

It is DYING that’s easier for believers, or rather the last moments, not poisoned by the bitter realisation it is the End, big time, without a new Beginning.

A better life for an atheist vs. a better end for a believer.

Now, what happens if a believer realises there’s no God, just before the end?

And what happens if an atheist gets a pre-final revelation that God, actually, exists?

If you are young enough to enjoy playing with these questions, Terry Gilliam’s Zero Theorem is two hours well spent. When I was a teenager I also believed that a heated debate with my teenage peers, fuelled by enough wine, could resolve the problem of matter over mind (and also secure attention of a girl I fancied). The plan failed on both counts.

If you think Terry Gilliam is a mountain in movie-making, but a bonsai philosopher, you can make your life richer by spending two hours of it just doing nothing.

I wish someone told me this, before I bought the DVD.

Having run the test, I circled back to my previous conclusion that art house films, defined by negation, exist only as a belief, similar to aliens or gods. My universal rule of dividing movies into great, bearable, and a waste of my time still holds firm, regardless of the fancy labels attached to them by the community of sophisticated critics.

P.S. There’s also a possibility I am not sophisticated enough.

Domestic Surrealism

I know you know Magritte’s Pipe, which is not a pipe. So I am going straight to what I think we need to do.

“This is not a…” has become an internet meme as powerful as the line “This is not what you think it is!”

Banksy used it:

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Even Kim Kardashian is a fan (though I doubt she’s aware of the primary source).

Kim KardashianOut in Hollywood, CAJuly 3, 2008

Frankly, if there’s one thing I care least, it is the debate whether art represents life or is life itself. I care about the changing or second meaning of things. It’s more fun.

I think we can keep building on the great master’s idea, making it relevant today. That’s a set from the times when I was a teenager:

MG1 MG2 MG3

What are the objects that have a double meaning for you?

Let me know, I’ll add them to the gallery, with full credits, and many thanks!

Can Man fool God?

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“Rock, scissors, paper
Is an endless game of chance,
And chance means freedom!”

“SON, YOU’RE ONLY FREE TO CHOOSE, 
WHICH WAY YOU WANT TO LOSE IT”


 

This week, I go for tanka, as a tool to interpret art, which today is a humorous take on Michelangelo’s fresco in the Sistine Chapel. It is a bit longer than haiku, which readers of my blog seem to have enjoyed. If you liked this tanka, check out the previous one, about Life, Death, and Hell. Let’s see if it works!

She may be blond, you may be strong

This photo was taken at the entrance to the Hermitage in St.Petersburg, Russia

This photo was taken at the entrance to the Hermitage in St.Petersburg, Russia

Don’t protest. Don’t fight.
This blond administrator
Will make you envy
Laocoon’s demise, and more
Bureaucracy would follow.

This week, I go for tanka, as a tool to interpret art. It is a bit longer than haiku, which readers of my blog seem to have enjoyed. If you liked this tanka, check out the previous one, about Life, Death, and Hell. Let’s see if it works!