Tag Archives: WRITING CHALLENGE

Rosetta Shirt drives the nail into High Art coffin

“Zero loves dividing big numbers ’cause it gets the same kinda error, no matter how big the number was”, said the professor. Then, he looked up, “Zero can make any big number lose its identity”.

“Is this why the Apocalypse is the product of Infinity divided by zero?” asked one of the tongue-in-cheek kind of students that sit at the back while seeking attention of the girls at the front.

“No. That’s simply an old joke.” The professor smiled, and murmured, “This is why stupid people love picking on clever ones”.


It is hard to find anyone oblivious of the #shirtstorm scandal, when a 3rd-wave feminist blogger accused Matt Taylor, the science boss of the team that landed a spaceship on a comet, of wearing a misogynic shirt, and drove the tattooed giant genius to tears and apologies. Since then, the internet has kicked back at the feminist trolls who orchestrated the campaign proving that sane people still exist. So, I won’t be talking about this scandal. The professor above said it all: zeros love harassing big numbers.

But I still have a question for you.

How is this shirt related to art, and the concept of High Art (as opposite to Low Art), in particular? The same idea goes by the name of Art with a capital “A” vs. simply art. You may be surprised, but it is great art in the same way the band “Cannibal Corpse” is great music.

Important notice: if you are blessed to be unaware of the music and songs played by Cannibal Corpse band, DO NOT ENLIGHTEN YOURSELF NOW. Or ever.


People who believe art can be high or low, often justify the division saying that High Art inspires great thinkers in professions relevant to the survival of mankind, while low art is only produced to entertain and subjugate uneducated “masses”, still necessary to operate gas pumps, run deliveries, and make things, generally.

So, great/high art is great/high because ultimately it is instrumental in helping mankind to achieve new heights in its development.

There’s logic to it, right?

No one would argue that sending ships to space and landing probes on comets is as important for our survival as never leaving home without Amex is for Amex. We’d have to evacuate this planet at some point to survive.

Given that Dr Matt Taylor is inspired by this shirt, as well as by songs produced by Cannibal Corpse band that YOU DON’T GOOGLE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF, both are examples of High Art.

It means Tate Modern or the MoMA must reach out to Dr Taylor and beg him to give them the shirt, because it has been proven it works. The London Symphonic Orchestra has to include Cannibal Corpse music in their performances.

Alternatively, we can finally put the idea of High vs. Low art to rest, and thank Dr Matt Taylor for this ultimately convincing argument.

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!

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!

The Russian manifesto on crisis avoidance

Ideas have immense power over people.

I know an antique dealer who’d kill a customer for saying, “Oh, what a great baroque piece!” while pointing at a gothic chest of drawers. The guy believes dating is sacred. No wonder he’s single: his attempts at the other kind of dating failed because women he met were attributing themselves to a different epoch. You don’t discount 42 to 35 in front of a man whose profession is about pinning a proper age tag onto the object he is about to acquire.

I also know a president, who believes his country is surrounded by enemies, which can’t sleep properly until his motherland is destroyed. Wolves of evil circle the clearing, waiting for the lonely pilgrim to nod off. So he sets fire around his camp torching up all the surrounding countries, and shoots at the firemen coming to the rescue, taking them for the Hounds of Hell that lurk in the fiery darkness.

You’d say it is not rational, and hence unlikely. One of the firemen would shout out for the pilgrim to stop shooting. I am sure one of them will. But if you are certain they are the proverbial Hounds of Hell, you’d just murmur, “No, you devilish creatures, I can see through your foul tricks!” and keep shooting. It is not about what’s real or true and what’s not. It is all about beliefs. Irrational behaviour in otherwise normal people is just as common as rational actions of complete psychos.

If you are convinced that Anglo-Saxons and Zionists conspire to turn Russia into a failed state (which is the prevalent theory in Russia right now), Russian politics start making sense.

The problem is that Russian politics are represented by very real tanks, soldiers, and nukes.

Today, we witness the Russian belief in a global conspiracy against it materialising into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if originally it was a figment of Putin’s imagination, it becomes real as the world watches Putin’s actions. Other nations start thinking they indeed would be better off with Russia in a restraint jacket.

Is there a way out of it? No one wants a war, bloodshed, shelling, refugees, and sanctioned poverty. Surely, everyone has good intentions, including the Russian President.

In a situation like that, good intentions help as much as a bullet-proof vest on board of a sinking ship.

That’s how it works.

Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Savitsky, Morning in a Pine Forest, 1889

Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Savitsky, Morning in a Pine Forest, 1889

Imagine a bear wanders into a hunter’s lodge in search for food.

A half-naked hunter barely escapes, slipping out through a small window at the back. He picks up his rifle at the last moment. He then buttresses the door from the outside with a log, and makes a 911 call.

The call is received by an operator who is incidentally a PETA activist, and before she calls a team from the nearest zoo, she makes sure a group of her fellow PETA members is on site to prevent any harm that may come the bear’s way.

The bear is barricaded inside the lodge, and PETA activists create a shield around the hut, waiting for the arrival of a suitable transport to take the bear to a safe location in the forest.

peta-not-bear-skinThe bear sees a crowd of people outside. They are very loud and aggressive, chanting something about bears, hunters, and fur hats (here the bear shudders) in hysterical voices. The bear’s best guess is that it is going to be killed. Hunters are known to have killed bears before, you know, so in human terms, it is an educated guess. The bear wants to find a way out of the wooden hut and run, run, run back to the forest: any bear knows it is dumb to confront an army.

After an hour of thrashing around, the bear is seconds away from ripping the door off its hinges and storming outside.

There’s no gun with a sedative bullet yet, just a regular one.

The hunter wants to train his rifle on the door to catch the bear disoriented when it emerges from the lodge. He knows there would be no second chance to create the first impression with a bear that size.

PETA activists shout that a pointed rifle may provoke the bear to assault people, and that it is better to throw out the gun altogether, because the bear would simply run off to the woods.

121713_PETA

Now, add to the scene a bear cub that was discovered by PETA activists outside the lodge. It is a cute fluffy ball of fur, and very hungry. One of the activists takes a bottle of milk to feed the poor creature. The father-bear sees a human grabbing the cub and realises one of the cubs has been following its father to the lodge. The scary thought “They gonna take my son!” flashes through the bear’s mind.

The bear doubles up its efforts to break out.

The hunter cocks up his rifle.

PETA activists keep shouting at the hunter to lower the gun.

They all, including the bear, mean frigging well and are behaving noble-mindedly, god after all being on their side.

As the bear comes out with the door turned into flying shrapnel splinters, the hunter pulls the trigger, trying not to hurt a PETA activist, and… just wounds the animal. Wounded bear massacres activists, with the first to be ripped open being the one feeding the cub. Then the bear goes for the hunter. No one can outrun a wounded bear.

When the police arrive at the scene (which they see as a massacre site), they aim for the head and finish the bear with a dozen accurate shots.

That’s when they see a zoo van pulling in.

Oh, the important detail: the hunter was out there in the forest on a fishing trip, originally.

You may think it is now irrelevant, until you realise it was the surviving fish that benefited in this conflict, ultimately.


Now think of the bear cub as Ukraine.

Think of PETA activists, protesting that the gun is trained on the door, as Western “lefties” (that’s not difficult to imagine at all).

Think of the hunter as Western “righties”.

The bear itself is, well, Russia.

There’s no police within a thousand light-years.

The fish is somewhere in China.

The time is now.

What are the chances that the zoo van pulls in before the bear is out of the lodge?

Slim.


Could the whole mess be avoided?

Yes, and here’s my manifesto on crisis avoidance strategy:

a) Avoid people who want to impose their ideas on others. They are well-meaning bears.

If (a) fails:

(b) Make sure your bear is fed, whatever or whoever it is. If it is not your bear, install electric fence.

(c) Do not allow liberally-minded and well-meaning people to manage a crisis

(d) Shoot to solve the problem, not aggravate it

(e) If you can’t solve the problem, hide to not become a part of it

If (b) to (e) failed, RUN or put on a Justin Bieber song, or find its equivalent.

P.S. No bears, hunters, or PETA activists suffered while this post was being written, but some people actually died in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria, which means the bear is not necessarily Russia, and the fish is not always in China. And no, I am not feeling light-hearted about it.

Motorbike gangs: a wasted culture?

It’s been a week since white men blue with tattoos all over their bodies descended on Marina di Massa, formerly a peaceful Tuscany coastal town.

2014-07-23-5388

Most of the tattoos preach love, kindness, and concern about the human condition.

Of course I am joking. Think of something criminal. Now think of Valhalla, Vikings, silicone girls, sculls, and flames. Imagine all this in a single image. Yes, you got it.

2014-07-24-5524

Teenagers look at them with the awe of visitors to a shark tank.

I myself dreamt of getting a motorbike from the age of 10 to 13. I had a bicycle and it was a million times less cool than having a bicycle with an engine, which today would be called a scooter. A proper motorbike was the ultimate dream. Pretty girls paid attention only to boys with bikes with an engine. The most pretty girls actually dated guys with bikes, or so I thought.

I got cured from this bike obsession when I managed to secure a proper date without the motorbike back-up. At 13.

Most of the adult bikers must have repeatedly failed in the dating department. Oh, don’t take me wrong: I am talking of “ganged” bikers, the ones that belong to gangs with hellishly named MCs on their uniform jackets, not the ones who simply ride bikes instead of cars. The latter are perfectly adequate, and often admired adventurers albeit with a shorter life expectancy. 

The Bandidos MC gang descended onto Italy to celebrate whatever it is men, who don’t take a spare pair of underpants with them when they travel, love to cheer about.

The US and Canada recognise the Bandidos MC as a criminal organisation, a bunch of racketeers, pimps, and drug-traffickers. Yet, Europe – despite the Bandidos have been leaving a trail of gangster activity and murders across the EU – is remarkably tolerant. The group here is mostly German, but there are a few NL, FR, and FI license plates as well; even some Thai and Vietnamese “brothers” have been spotted, but I guess they didn’t flow in with their bikes.

Grown-ups, especially the ones with access to Wiki, seem to be less enthusiastic than their teenage sons.

“My god, they do smell”, is a popular complaint on the beach these days. If nods that the comment is “harvesting” were ‘Likes’, it would be all over Facebook. It is the smell of men who believe taking shower is beneath them, and deodorants are for sissies.

Occasionally, the Bandidos ride out in a solemn procession just to ride back half an hour later to get a re-load of beer. Empty bottles and cans are dropped on the pavement in picturesque arrangements with cigarette stubs. Garbage bins are for sissies too.

They don’t smile at people who are not Bandidos. The way they look at people can bruise an unsuspecting passerby. Relaxed vacationers carrying a can of beer or other valuables pick up speed when they see a Bandido.

As I take out a bottle of Nastro Azzurro from my minibar fridge, I decide to drink it before I venture out.

The Harvey Song blares out from loudspeakers in the garden. It rhymes “tight- night”, “one-sun”, “wild-child” and “me-me”. Oh, I left out “baby-baby”. Of course, it was in there.

I could do it. Easy. Here’s your Beginner Biker Blues.

I got meself a helmet.
I got meself a bike.
I swear like a bandit,
A real biker, like.

No?

OK, another try. The Advanced Biker Ballad, sang to his “back warmer” (this is a biker term for a girlfriend).

I dreamt a scary dream, my baby:
I had a head-on with a lorry.
I woke up all sweaty-beady
But that is not the whole story.

When brothers buried me proper,
They all got drunk, and you got laid, 
Next day you traded them my chopper
Asking the price I LIED I’D PAID!

I have concerns if my pun will reach its intended target though. Do ganged bikers – who love presenting themselves as gravely serious folks – have any sense of humour at all? I googled up “biker humour” and all I could find were old jokes about drivers where “driver” was replaced with “biker” (I don’t count jokes created by drivers about bikers). I failed to locate examples of any reciprocal response of the same quality.

Come to think of it, “ganged” bikers have never produced anything except CO2. They’ve invented nothing besides new ways to paint sculls on their helmets. They are not about progress or advancement that would have any value for Mankind.

In all its history, the ganged biker culture has produced nothing but crime, and deafening noise.

I’ve googled “biker art”, of course, hoping to see the creative fruits of collective freedom allegedly dispensed in limitless quantities to proud members of biker gangs.

Disappointing.

David Mann, their topmost achievement, almost a saint among them, is the author of these Neanderthal icons with juicy bums and shiny bikes.

saturdaynightsundaymorning-5001-635x388 skinnydippin

Why are bikers so fixated on female bums? Is it a side-effect of humping a rumbling engine for hours on end? Or is it a by-product of too much pimping?

I’ve heard an opinion that these “brotherhoods” are friendly-spirited unions of alienated, but otherwise good-natured urban men, who love to slap each other on the back and to party at exotic locations.

They do a lot of slapping, that’s true.

This is how they describe their party on the beautiful Garda lake in Italy (comes from their blog, all spelling errors properly copyrighted):

“The venue was directly at the Garda Lake, a party with oldschool style. The event was hosted by the chapter Meran and the brothers did a great job.

Because of the position it needed nothing more then a teint, drinks and nice italian food. The brothers behind the bars filled the longdrinks with much alcohol and the beer was icecold and tasty.

Late at evening a girl was dancing between the tables and little by little she throw away her clothes. All visitors were full of atmosphere and enjoyed the time.

The special feature of this party was that prevalent brothers with there Ol`Ladies took part and they spent a few days of vacation together.

All will come back next year.”

Isn’t it almost as exciting as watching a colony of slipper animancule growing its numbers? “Brothers behind the bars” is the only thing linguistically disturbing.

Perhaps, I’ve fallen victim to the public cliche view of OMG members (organised motobike gangs, just sharing the acronym with Oh My God). If you know examples of biker art that surpasses Mr Munn’s iconography, please let me know.

 

On a second thought, if your summer plans included a stay at the Garda lake, you may want to reconsider.

P.S. I know this post is a strange mix of childhood dreams, minibar contents, overheard conversations, music, and a bit of what some people call biker art. This is what happens when a post is written little-by-little over five days of a vacation week somewhat ruined by the rumble of motors.