Tag Archives: Edgar Allen Poe

I Can’t Stand Modern “Art”

This is a bit of a rant I had recently, and one I’ve had over the years in various capacities… It’s probably the single issue I’m most close-minded about. I hate that I’m so close-minded about anything, but if there’s something to be close-minded about, I guess this is decently innocuous.

It starts with a rant about poetry. I cannot stand e. e. cummings. His total disregard for the standards of the English language itself denigrate the communicative purposes of the written word. But he isn’t even close to the worst offender in poetry, not in my mind.

Back when I was a freshman in college, I took a class called “Arts in Tuscaloosa.” It was an honors class that was supposed to cover my fine arts credit. We met twice a week, once in small groups of 10 or so, and once with the entire class of 50 to 100 kids. My roommate was in the large class with me. That class was very fond of modern art. We had to, as assignments, go and experience art, food, culture in different ways and turn in responses. Those responses could be written, but they had some really ridiculous requirement banning the use of adjectives, I believe, in those responses. They could also be creative. I went for creative and sketched. I’m not the best sketch artist, but I tried. I put effort into it, was clearly creative… still couldn’t get above a B- for my work. Meanwhile, my roommate decided to see how little effort he could put into a response. We saw a dance show together, “Dance! Alabama” in fall of 2006. He went to PowerPoint and created a slide with a light to dark blue gradient, the words “Dance! Alabama 2006” aligned right at the top, and three crappy ClipArt dancers at the bottom. He got an A+, and I refused to return to the class ever again.

Not so great for my grades, perhaps, but whatever. That class annoyed the crap out of me.

As you might guess, they were quite fond of modern art and modern poetry in there. In our large class lectures, we would listen to a guest speaker each week. The only one I remember was Hank Lazer. I remember because I hated his poetry. He told us in the class that, basically, poetry could be just random words you find on the street amalgamated together. As an example, he had a “poem” that had a random paragraph from the Alabama Code of Law every other stanza.

I hated that poetry and I hated the assertion that random words thrown haphazardly onto paper, words not even necessarily your own, could create poetry. That’s not poetry, that’s a word collage, and not even a well done one, not with his descriptions. He didn’t talk about why you used the random words, he talked like you just throw your hand into the hat and pull out something random.

Beyond poetry, modern art annoys me further still. Look at this thing about a piece called “Three Blank Canvases.” Just three canvases, painted white. Or three canvases with what looks like sections of a science textbook printed on them. If these things are defined as art, how does art have meaning and worth? Is this blog I’m writing art? Is a photograph I take of my cluttered work desk art? And what about performance art? If someone burns all their possessions on a street corner, is that art or someone that needs new stuff/therapy? Is it only art if we just call it art? Where’s the line drawn? If a guy rapes a woman in public, but calls it performance art, is it? What if it’s consensual sex, is it art then? Is self-immolation art if that’s what someone calls it?

Part of the problem is that art loses the artist’s meaning in the eyes of the viewer. The audience determines something’s artistic value and meaning. So, some people can find things beautiful and perhaps even “artistic” where I might rant and rail against it. But I think there needs to be a line, parameters drawn. You can find it beautiful or thought-provoking, but that doesn’t mean it’s art. Sitting at the piano doing nothing for four minutes and 33 seconds isn’t music, John Cage, it’s just silence and laziness. I swear, if anyone “performs” that piece near me, I’m jumping on stage to do my own song and dance, and they can’t stop me because I’m part of the “ambient noise” then.

It’s frustrating to me to think of the great artists like Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt… I think of writers like William Shakespeare and Robert Browning and Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath and William Wordsworth… Musicians like Beethoven and Mozart and Bach… Many of these people, these artists, had struggles. Van Gogh suffered from depression that led to his suicide. Plath had the same problem. Michelangelo nearly went blind painting the Sistine Chapel. Mozart had various problems, some of which likely stemmed from his being bandied about at such a young age. Beethoven was deaf.

I’m not saying personal struggle is necessary for artists, but these artists struggled in their own lives and in their works. It took effort, caused pain, took time. Their art had purpose and true devotion poured in, whether you enjoy the final product or not. And that’s something I just don’t see too often with modern art. I know I’m a bit of a heretic among my artistic and culture-loving friends for saying this, but there is so much in modern art that just doesn’t seem like art to me. Maybe Plato was right and there is an objective form for beauty or art. Or maybe I’m just narrow-minded. After all, many of the artists I named were branded heretical for pushing the bounds in their days, going largely unnoticed or deemed unworthy to be considered artists.

But that’s my thoughts.

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America Is Not Dead

“The nightmare of ‘Obamacare’ has already begun.  Many small businesses have already said they will close down because of the added cost of the health-care provisions under ‘Obamacare’, while other businesses have stated that they will only hire future employees on a part-time basis.  […]  Businesses are panicking because of the extra financial burden this presidential plan creates.  I heard from another of our employees that her husband’s company is going to start charging him $40 extra a month for his family policy, because his wife (our employee) has access to other coverage.  Wages will stagnate or go down because of the added financial burden on the companies, so the employees will have less income to cover these rising costs.  In addition, President Obama has said that he will implement ‘green’ policies that he freely admits will cause the prices on electricity and gas to rise for the consumer.  So get ready for the ride.  It’s going to be tough on us all.  And I’m only mentioning a small piece of what is coming down the pike.  I grieve that you and your sisters will probably never know a better America.  Our country’s heyday as a world power and a true land of opportunity and freedom has passed.”

This was most of the final paragraph of an email my mother sent me just recently. Notice anything about it? It’s very… How shall we put this… Doom and gloomy. It waxes Poetic, insofar as it sounds like something Edgar Allen Poe would have written up.

After the election, the fox-for-hair wearing grumpypants pile of severely unimportant yet we still talk about him known as Donald Trump ranted on Twitter about how this was not a democracy (because I guess in democracies, Trump gets to put people in power) and how Americans should start a revolution. Useless has-been rocker and walking pile of anger Ted Nugent called all the people who voted for President Barack Obama pimps, whores and welfare brats as well as suggesting America had just committed spiritual and economic suicide. Former SNL cast member Victoria Jackson said thanks a lot to the Christians that didn’t show up to vote and that she couldn’t stop crying because America is now dead.

Well. I guess that’s it then. Let’s pack our bags and head to another country because this one’s all washed up. It’s over. Let’s not even give Obama a chance to do anything. The mere fact that we utilized our Constitutional rights to vote for a new leader of our country and over 50 percent of the nation chose to give Obama four more years means that this country is, quite simply, gone to pasture.

We’ve got over 20 different petitions on WhiteHouse.gov now, last I counted, for different states to secede from the union. One of those states, Texas, has now received the 25 thousand signatures necessary to have the petition officially reviewed and responded to by the White House. 25 thousand. Which is .1% of the entire state’s population.

When George W. Bush was reelected, many liberals were upset. Heck, a lot of the world was confused and upset. In their being upset, some liberals said silly things and said they’d leave the country. But, honestly… maybe it’s because back in 2004 Twitter and Facebook weren’t big on the scene, but it seems like the right wing has completely lost it. The hyperbole and hype of how this is the end of the world, not to mention all the rather abhorrent racism, is just disgusting. Seriously. It’s awful. And if you’re someone who thinks America is dead or our nation is ruined or whatever, then you are not a patriot.

Let me say that differently: If you think America died when Obama was reelected, you hate America.

The end.

See, America isn’t a nation about getting your way. It’s a nation about growth and competitive ideas working together and against one another to spawn greater, stronger ideas that will create a greater, stronger nation. Your guy didn’t get in. So what? Will things maybe be rough? It’s possible. It’s also possible that things will go better than you expected, that America will improve. But to those that say this is the worst thing that could ever happen to America, I kindly invite you to shut up.

The reason I get snippy and angry at people that act like this, the reason I will likely go off on my mother should she talk politics at Thanksgiving, is because it’s completely idiotic and disrespectful to our nation’s history. You know what some of the worst things to happen to America are?

The War of 1812, when the White House was set on fire.

The American Civil War, perhaps the bloodiest war America has ever fought, where brother fought brother and neighbor fought neighbor for five years.

The Great Depression, where our economy, and the world’s economy, crashed so thoroughly, people were eating ketchup and water for meals.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor, a shocking attack on our homeland that dragged us into the bloody Second World War.

The Vietnam War, a lengthy, pointless war that ended with atrocities and body counts too numerous to list.

September 11, 2001.

Seriously. Did Obama’s first four years lead to any event, even one event that comes REMOTELY close to anything on the list I just gave?

No.

Did Obama’s economic recovery, slow though it may be, resemble in ANY way the devastation of the 1930s?

No.

And did America ever even ONCE fail to rebound from each catastrophe and tragedy it faced, often times coming out on the other side even stronger than before?

No.

So, even if Obamacare is a disaster that will destroy small businesses, and even if taxing the wealthy at a higher rate will do nothing to stem the tide of our growing debt and massive deficit, and even if Obama’s social policies will change the face of America forever…

America will survive. And those of you that think otherwise? I hear Antarctica has some open space to start your own government.

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From The Inkwell – Poetry On Popes And Papas, Communists And Cars

A new segment (invented due to the special circumstance of I needed to post something but didn’t feel like staying up all night before the trip to Georgia to give you people anything that I’ve actually written in the past several years)!

…how exciting!

See, I already have my “Breaking The Leg” segment that specifically deals with all things theatre, and particularly (or often) has a posting of one of my many theatrical writings that I’ve compiled over the years, be it monologue, scene or play. But there have been times I’ve written prose and poetry unrelated to stage. I’m actually going to count my writings for film (not that they’ve been made yet) in that category too. Ergo, for all my non-theatrical writings, which are chaotic at best, I have this new segment “From The Inkwell.”

See how I mentioned they’re chaotic? And they’re from the inkwell? On “Chaotic Pen”? AREN’T I JUST SO WITTY?

…ahem.

At any rate, I’m offering up to you two… well, amateur attempts at poetry, written in my long behind me high school days. The first one, written for my creative writing class my junior year, is about my father’s old, now departed, 1989 Plymouth Voyager. I will make the statement here that I really, in general, do not like free verse or blank verse. I prefer my poetry to have a specific style. A noticeable rhyming pattern, a discernible beat, et cetera. It can, perhaps, change during the poem, but not severely drastically. Sonnets, heroic couplets, iambic pentameter… these are all things I enjoy using. “Poets” like e. e. cummings were never ones I gave much credence. My favorite poets were always Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickinson. …so, perhaps a strange set to draw inspiration from, but there it is. With Emily Dickinson, you may guess that I’m okay with some variation in the poetry, as I mentioned before… but you’ll see what I mean in this poem.

At any rate, “My Father’s Car.”

A dusky gray now turned to rust.
The car sits there, gathering dust.
The ratty-tatty thing I see
Sends past thoughts flooding back to me.

I remember the trip to Maine
With no AC, sunshine or rain.
We did stop every little while
Tho’ never at a place with style.

I must admit I can’t recall
Ever being in Maine at all.
But that’s all right, I do not care.
I have other stories to share.

I once turned on the inside light.
Forgetting, it burned overnight.
The next day, dad went for a drive.
He went for minutes, ten plus five.

He drove fifteen minutes when
The battery died there and then.
Stuck at the gas station he tried
To start the car, but it had died.

Now sitting in the driveway
The problems can be seen.
Oil leak, dead transmission,
No rear mirror, hole in glass,
Flat front tire, busted light,
Rusting hood, out of gas.

The ceiling cloth has been ripped off.
The backup lights don’t work.
The side door’s lock just will not turn.
Clovers grow in the murk.

His car had sixteen years of life.
‘Twas fifteen years too dead.

—————————————-

The second poem I offer you was actually part of a school group project we had to do during our “Canterbury Tales” segment of English class. We had to essentially create our own “Canterbury Tales.” Using the same style of the Chaucer work, we had to create an overarching story and write a poetic prologue and epilogue. Then, as we were in groups of four, we each had to write a poem at least 14 lines long, as I recall, for people involved in the overarching story with iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets.

My group decided, since we were all (minus one) in the same AP Government class, to do a story in which four people representative of radically different beliefs on government are forced to attempt to create a government from a John Locke-esque state of nature. Our tale had a nuclear holocaust wipe out all life with exception of four people on an island: A warmongering democracy nut, a Scientologist theocrat, a militant anarchist, and the Pope of Communism.

That last one was mine.

We won the 5 bonus points for being the best in the class.

This is the poem about the Pope of Communism, our dearest Rasputin. The picture I made of him can be seen here.

“The Pope of Communism’s Story”

There was a Communist in robes so fine,
Soft as silk, trailing back, as red as wine.
Further up his body, on his head sat
A gold and red, pointed, stiff, clothe pope hat.
In his hand, on his right, he held real tight
A tall staff of gold, exquisite and bright.
Atop the staff sat a symbol of hope:
The cross, sickle, and hammer of the pope.
He carried with him the Manifesto,
The book of Marx, where all get the same dough.
In his efforts to spread the grand old Word,
The voice of Father Lenin he had heard.
You will find no fault in what he preaches.
Perhaps you will find fault in what he is.
In order for the Good Word to be spread,
He believes he must first paint the world red.
Red is the color of no oppression,
And is the Commie Pope’s new obsession.
Though he tries to free all the working class,
They die as quickly as the fresh cut grass.
So now he preaches the Social Rebirth
Because he is Lenin’s new voice on earth.

———————————————————-

Maybe next time I’ll have poetry that’s slightly less humorous/bad and is more professional. But I doubt it.

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