Well, first the move and all that entailed. Then over the last few months world events have drawn attention. Japan! What is this world coming to? In the midst of this I’m attempting to “produce” work for two personal exhibits this summer.
What to say? First and foremost, my heart goes out to the Japanese people. Words in this regard are totally inadequate. I’ve experienced some deeply moving moments in reflection. The following touches some of the highlights. Bear in mind these are verbal thoughts which miss the essence of the experience. They are, however, perhaps valuable on their own merit.
Everything to follow is based on a biased view towards human life quite outside the norm. Having said that, I need add that at my age I no longer feel any sense of judgment towards the society in which I live. Quite the contrary. I’ve written elsewhere about my opinion that our evolution is not done in a progressive linear manner. This has been well documented in the case of prehistoric cave paintings. But we do progress. It may be that over a given 100 year period we progress in humanistic manner 100 steps. Perhaps in the next few year we digress 99 steps. Well, that is still a net advance of 1 step. Has not our value of the human life progressed in this manner? Ever so slowly has the dignity and quality of the individual human life improved.
This model held true until the last 150 years. The photographic image has both directly and indirectly transformed our artistic/esthetic sensibilities. We have yet to begin understanding its significance. A, short, few decades later industrialization was in full swing. And given the choice between a horseless carriage and its alternative we started down the slippery road of mass consumption.
This abbreviated digression was necessary to preface what I wanted to say about my special experience. I felt a deep sense of identity with the Japanese people. This could not have been possible the day before yesterday. Many; if not most of us now can have the feeling of being in the same boat together.
My hope is that this catastrophic event may trigger steps in a different direction. Perhaps an understanding that a world devoid of artistic and esthetic sensibilities is a world that stepped into a deep precipice. If we do not come to our senses someday we will believe when looking back at the fruit of Western Civilization … “well, you can’t get back there from here.” Humanity will have become blind to the importance artistic sensibilities hold for society at large.
Here it is in a nutshell; If the big questions become muted, then the important question of, “how man should live”, becomes as important or unimportant as how ants should live.
Published in french as La mécanisation de l’homme et de l’art