06 September 2006

life on an easel

I morph a topic from Shelly into an allegory involving art.

I was thinking about Frankenstein on my walk to work this morning. I got to the point where I took the whole as the obvious allegory of the Big Guy and man between Frankenstein and his monster. Frank (Big Guy) creates something terrible, thinking it'll be great, and not recognizing its horrible characteristics until it's animated and too late (people). Monster is abandoned and behaves terribly (lack of divine influence and free will). Frank's surprised and horrified when monster is no better than its origins would suggest it should be, and decides he needs to get rid of it (the Flood?). It goes about trying to destroy Frank and all his ties (nihilism, atheism).

Why do I think of overreaching metaphors when I'm walking to work? Boredom mainly.

But it made me think of the monster as a piece of art, a failed piece of art--something you'd want to scrap. And perhaps human beings are pieces of art--of a kind. If you're a crap piece of art, you get thrown in a bonfire. And if you're a brilliant piece of art, they'd stick you in a museum with other brilliant pieces of art [of your type]. If you're something in between they might stick you in the basement of the museum for repairs and touch-ups. But the cases of the bonfire versus the museum is obviously after-life. Until then, you're still the misshapen ball of clay or the unfinished work on the easel.

This is okay--but what does the artist want from his art (if anything)? What can a painting possibly give the painter? A painter doesn't require the adoration of its painting. It's there to be pretty, to be amusing. Failing that, it's no good. So if a painting is harmless, but boring, isn't it a failure? Won't it go on the bonfire? Similarly, if I have an amazing painting portraying something that many people find distasteful (CBT, BDSM, snuff, etc.), isn't that worth more than the poster of a "Who me?" kitten? Isn't it more interesting? And isn't it more successful as a piece of art? Won't it end up in the museum in spite of its graphic nature and questionable content? It might not sit next to a Rembrandt, but it'll certainly have a room for it and its ilk.

Put the relative success of artwork aside.

Leave the museum and all the individual pieces of art that may or may not deserve to end up in a shredder. And ask if the painter needs to keep any of them. This is not a symbiotic relationship, and he doesn't need anything in that museum.


I say upsetting things. I'm sorry if I'm offensive. I only ask these things with half the impertinence my mother would probably imagine is in them. The other half of me is deadly serious, really wants a good explanation for the sham that I see in religion.

Why would anything omnipotent need us to like it? Worship it? Recognize that it exists? WHY? And, returning to Frankenstein, why create something that is inherently flawed and then punish or destroy it for being flawed? Why create it at all?

I remember saying "Jesus Christ" in an exclamation when I was in middle school or so. My mother slapped me across the face for it. And now I think, if it were as bad as all that, then surely a slap isn't nearly enough punishment. And if I'm right, and it doesn't actually matter to anyone or anything, then she shouldn't have slapped me at all. Right?

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