Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random thoughts

1. I am experiencing Pop Culture Fatigue.

This past weekend, the Golden Globes aired, and I only knew about it because of all the Facebook status updates. Oh? The Golden Globes are on? Huh. Maybe I'll...nah...

The Globes went unviewed, my life remained unruined.

I might as well have watched them, though. On Tuesday, every news item or status update (including my own) was bombarded with a tid or a bit about the Globes - from fashion to speeches to strained relationship histories. The internet universe does not have breathable air - its atmosphere is the vapor billowing out of the Pop Culture Machine. If you are on Planet Google, you best take in a good lungful if you want to communicate with the other inhabitants.

It's not that I dislike Pop Culture. I happily swim in the snark infested waters. But after days, weeks, or months of involuntary interest, I'm exhausted. I find myself grousing about celebrities and internet memes, even when I have little to no experience with them. For example:

I haven't seen Avatar. I'm sure I'm missing out on all the lush beauty and predictable plot lines, but I just can't work up the steam for an afternoon of Na'vi. The very thought makes me want to take a nap.

I've seen two episodes of Glee. It was charming as Bacon Flavored Cotton Candy. But I never want to see another episode of people I don't care about singing and dancing. I can't take it.

Zach Galifianakis: You are funny and talented. You will be in everything for awhile. Then you will host the VMAs and become a comedic persona non grata until you a) Film a documentary about going back on the stand up circuit, B) Star in a movie loosely based on your rise/fall/ball cancer or C) Play a teacher at a boys school in a 1950's coming of age story. I have seen your future. I am weary of it already.

Jay Leno sucks, btw.

I know I have the choice to ignore these things. None of us are so thralled. But the bug light of pop culture is strange, fake, and beautiful. Its hum beckons us to ignore the porch light and flap our dusty wings right into the zapper.

2. Artists should have jobs and not in the "Get a job, Hippie" kind of way. I think it's necessary.

I've been observing from afar some arguments regarding an artist's expectation of a living wage from what they produce. If there are funds available, then the artist should be paid a reasonable fair-trade amount for the time, energy, and/or materials he or she put in. (This includes any future compensation for further use. i.e, royalties from a play.)

If the funds aren't available, the artist should weigh the importance of the job and whether or not the intangible benefits (fulfillment, resume credit, networking) are worth the time.

In any case, whether or not the artist is receiving ample monetary compensation, they should still have a job.

In recent weeks, I've learned more about wine. Part of what makes a particular wine good is struggle. The roots have to force themselves into silty earth, the skin has to withstand inclement weather. The result is (usually, but not always) good, complex, surprising wine. You can really taste the native terrain in a good wine - the minerals in the rocks nearby, the dank moss on the hillside.

The same is true for art - any kind. Art arises from its native culture. Some of my worst, most flaccid output has come from periods when I didn't need a job to support myself. I was left to wander the woods of my own artistic fancy without input or context of from the outside world. If all you do is art, where is your input coming from? What are you reacting to? Sure, you can read the news, but in order to comment or challenge the world, an artist needs to be of the world. A job provides connection and perspective.

Otherwise, you become Sting.

3. Favorite word this week:

Pronunciation: \ˈvelt-ˌshmerts\
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain
Date: 1864

1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness

4. Least favorite word:


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