When it comes to art I’m a classicist at heart. I believe art should reflect the beauty that’s within us, focus on and raise up what’s best in human nature, and that it should be edifying. And, reflecting those classical Lain roots, in edifying it should also be an edifice—a structure meant to last, because it’s ideas are meant to be eternal.
So why graffiti? Because I’m also a modernist at heart. I believe art should challenge our preconceived notions, force us to think about things in a new way. Reality ain’t always pretty so art shouldn’t always be either. We live in a cold, indifferent universe that’s always changing.
The classicist believes everything is a remix. The modernist wants to make something new.
And that’s a belief that appears to have a longer lineage than the classical notions. The epic hero Gilgamesh goes on a quest for immortality and ultimately learns that nothing lasts forever.
He’s told this by a man whose wisdom comes from immortality which makes it even more ironic that his message is, “Nothing lasts forever.”
The Epic of Gilgamesh itself was lost, literally buried for thousands of years, before its rediscovery, but that’s another story.
That’s why this quick scribble on a trash can—how’s that for poignant?—got my attention.
Everything about it, from the aesthetics to the message, is modern, but it’s also a call to action. Strive to be remembered.
And I took this picture six months ago. That’s not a long time but the neighborhood around it has undergone some major changes in that time with old edifices being torn down, new ones built, and some being renovated.
It’s also a call to action, to do something great. Even if you aren’t remembered, the message seems to say, do something that will be. And that’s raising up what’s best in our nature.
Profound. But does it matter to the world as a whole if we as individuals are forgotten? Is it our egos that fear disappearing from the consciousness of future humans?
You make some good points about what art is and I agree with you about the merits of modernism in contrast to the ideals of classicism.
There has to be dark in order for light to have any meaning and therefore beauty and hope have to have something to give them contrast too.
For example, those of us that weren’t born to be beautiful actually perform an important function in life. Without us, Miss America would have no context and no one would know how beautiful Angelina Jolie is. 🙂 Glad to be of service.
Art is ideal for the expression of the entire range of human thought and emotion. And yes, graffiti, in my opinion, is a very valid form of expression in an increasingly confusing world.
Great post for discussion!
It really is amazing, isn’t it? I hadn’t thought of it while writing this but Baudelaire deeply explored the idea of needing darkness to reflect the light, and he was very interested in finding beauty in the ugly and the overlooked, covering a whole side of humanity that he felt art and literature had overlooked.
This could inspire a whole range of thoughts.
I shall not forget this, Chris.
Your contributions here are unforgettable too.
For one thing it made the trash can more interesting to look at and gave it another dimension. It seems philosophy can sometimes turn up in the oddest of places.
Philosophy does turn up in the oddest places which is part of what makes it fun. Understanding philosophy can make us amazingly conscious of the world around us, and being amazingly conscious of the world around us can help with the understanding of philosophy. Or, as the song says, philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks.