I used to dust the frame of this van Gogh every week. I have always appreciated it as a reflection of his mental state during his time in the hospital, but after the past few weeks of Nashville’s weather, I am there for you, Vincent. I do not think I have the energy to come up with a solid blog post this week.
Rather than try to find focus, I will cut to the major developments. I painted two portraits. One is finished. The other needs some adjustments that will be addressed at a later date after I get some other work finished to see if there is a pattern emerging. I have 4 canvases ready to go but only one subject, so decisions have to be made. I worked on a landscape drawing that will not be finished for another month.
I finished reading the book, Ordinary Men. For the past few years, I have felt the need to compile a list of books that show how susceptible people are to pressure either from authority or from a peer group, to prepare my son for what is an ever-growing trend to bowing to, not even public opinion, but just loud opinion. The Twitterati. Forced apologies for something that is not even offensive. “The crowd is untruth” as Kierkegaard would say. So far, the list includes Ordinary Men, The Crowd Is Untruth, The Present Age and Obedience to Authority. I need a book on the Stanford Prison Experiment. The real life and clinical scenarios that provide data for how much of the population has a strong moral core and will not bend to pressure is staggeringly depressing. It averages less than 20% in terms of rejecting the crowd, rejecting violence and rejecting the misuse of power.
My long-held opinion is that if you want to study philosophy, you should have to answer one basic question: do you believe people are basically good or basically bad? If you say “good” then you should not be allowed to study philosophy. You are a problem at that point. Most philosophy attempts to point humanity towards a better version of ourselves. This better version really does not exist, and you are only giving people false hope to say that there is a solely human solution to this, that philosophical instruction will civilize us. 80% of the people on this planet will be complicit in a genocide if the proper situation presents itself. And you do not even need to study a historical genocide to determine how people will behave in extreme situations. There have been two separate incidents in the past 6 years in Nashville where it was only rumored that there was a gas shortage due to a hurricane in the Gulf. There never was a real shortage but people’s reactions to both situations were astounding in their immediate lack of civility- as in, a man pointing a gun at another man to prevent him to getting to the pump so that the armed man’s wife can fill up her tank.
I also skimmed Paris 1937: Worlds on Exhibition, primarily out of curiosity but also because it will be helpful for what I teach. I wanted more information about the Spanish, Soviet and German pavilions. The book encompasses much more than that head-to-head and I will have to return to it at some other point to read about the Surrealist exhibition among other things. The expo brought together Nazism, Soviet communism and the last gasp of the Spanish republic in a clear architectural and artistic predictor for the following decade. It is where Picasso’s Guernica is first unveiled, and few people cared. In retrospect it is not hard to see why. Competition was stiff. Picasso was an untested political voice. I have no doubt that people were hesitant to take any meaningful statement of his with any seriousness.
Other than all of that, I painted half of my den. Judging by my calendar, I will not get much studio work done this week. Fingers crossed for next week.
Lyric for the week:
“Look at yourself/ if you had a sense of humor/ you would laugh to beat the band”
“Glad to be Unhappy”- Rodgers/Hart
Quote for the week:
“Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
The Book of Matthew