Original article posted by gandhi2:
What’s happened to the epic tales?
The other day, I was clarifying something about the myth of Orpheus (sometimes Sandman isn’t 100% accurate), and checked Bullfinch’s. After the myth, there was an exerpt from a poem by Alexander Pope, "Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day: VI." The poem got me thinking about art in general, and how the next Age of Classicalism is long overdue.
When I read a classic poet, or see a piece of classical art, or hear a piece of classical music, I’m moved by something a little more deep than black lines enclosing squares. Don’t get me wrong–Rothko and Williams have their place. The greatest of modern artists have a mastery over their work, and can communicate a powerful message. But I sometimes wonder if 1000 years from now, people will look at Jackson Pollock’s erratic paint flingings, squint, rub their chins, scratch their foreheads, and finally shrug, thinking that the joke was on the poor schmoes who paid miilions for the things.
The age of decadence emphasizes the individual, while a classic age speaks about a culture. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough people who do art about our culture (is it lacking, then?), for people in future generations to understand the individual. I’d hate to think how my art would be perceived in context with the latest fabulous Hollywood production. Without the classical age, the individual has their 15 minutes and is forgotten.
Just a ponderance. Comments wanted.
Re: Our Decadent Age
I’m thinking about music right now because, well, if there is any good music still coming out these days I wouldn’t know. And if I don’t know about it than how likely is it that anyone will know about it in a hundred years? Hopefully some of the quality stuff will be preserved so that this generation isn’t simply labeled the era of Hollywood and American Idol. ewww…I just love my generation.
Re: Our Decadent Age
I couldn’t agree more. We do lack a sense of culture. In this age of 15 min meals and 30 min of “quality” entertainment (2hrs at most) we just don’t take the time to define what our culture is; and without a clear culture, future generations will have no idea what to think about us. There are those who are making marks on our cave walls, but this representation is varied and sparse. How much of it will survive?
Re: Our Decadent Age
I think you are all missing vital points about what culture is and how our current (particulalry American) society is splintered and fractured and half schizophrenic, but all the while there are cultures out there. Important ones with artifacts and music and art. To deny the idea that the so -called “cliques” of the modern day are not in fact cultures is to forget that throughout history some very small groups have changed everything.
if something is important, and has no E! hollywood story, does anybody care?
i agree that cultures can exist in a much less epic sense, but these fractured cultures rely on the larger mainstream. the whole reason that they are so powerful is because of their relationship to the majority. what i was trying to illustrate was that “cliques” use iconography that members of the group can understand, which usually (but not always) means that outsiders can’t. if members of the common populous can’t relate to Transmet the same way you and i can, how in the hell do we expect people centuries in the future to understand Ellis’ message? the whole reason we can understand it in the first place is because we’re alive now, and can draw correlations to “fuckery and crapulence” around us. i guess that it’s a kind of culture, and that similar conditions will exist in the future, with similar people being able to relate to them.
i just want more modern myth, not some ancient psuedo-religious babblings. things that everybody knows and knows that life once was like, and can interpret into their current social situation. i could just point to The Life and Times of Spider Jerusalem(mwahahahaha!), and instantly somebody can understand the morals i’m trying to communicate…or lack thereof.
Re: if something is important, and has no E! hollywood story, does anybody care?
I agree with all of that. My point is still that you are missing a fundemental point about societies and cultures.
Cultures are ALWAYS a reaction to something. The something may be more or less epic depending but the reaction is always there.
What were once great myths were merely people trying to explain to themselves the why and how things happen. Now we make stories to speak to the interrelations of what happened and why it happened.
I suppose I agree that we need more myth, more hard substance in our lives. But at the same time I am reluctant/violently opposed to admitting that todays society has something INHERENTLY wrong with it. I think the splintered factions out there are a good thing, I think the need to compare our modern society to times of old is a sort of mental sickness. Trying to say something we used to have was good while something we do have is not good is as good as saying I don’t believe in it either.
We have all the things of old, but we also have the things of the new. The problem arises in trying to discuss one to the mutual exclusion of others. This sort of conversation is like being in a literature class and not comparing Jane Austnen’s Emma to the movies. You have to look at both sides to get any clear indication of what is actually happening.
Too much historical classicim and too much modernism (or post modernism) create the same void of intellect and structured meaning.
I’m speaking out for the new here.
Re: Our Decadent Age
I find it somewhat ironic that you fail to address what I see as a vital part of this discussion. Much of what we consider to be great art was rejected in its time. Any dip into a literary time period will reveal this. Consider Van Gogh, Virginia Woolfe, and Emily Dickinson. As Phoebe on Friends once said, “I would give anything to not be appreciated in my time” (paraphrasing slightly, ’cause I can’t remember exactly). The truth is that we cannot know what will be considered the greats of our generation in the future. It is unfortunately possible that Britany Spears and Clay Aiken will be our figureheads, but is it not also possible that the rantings found on this site will become the classic images of our time?