COMEDY AND TRAGEDY
These musings often describe an internal dialogue. This is the argument that I have with myself in my quest for an understanding of the larger unfolding. I promote and extol the virtues and value of art, creativity, innovation, education and culture as one possible answer to our increasingly dark expressions of existence. I look to the work of icons such as Bach, Homer, Mozart, Plato, Picasso, Gershwin, Michelangelo, Jelly Roll Morton, Marc Rothko, Shakespeare and Da Vinci as expressions of what is important, what is civilizing and what is bonding in our human existence. These mirrors of their times reflected and commented. They also expressed a common ideal of "goodness".
The argument I have with myself concerns the ethics and morality of the individuals who created work that is immortal; that transcends time and that has become, historically, iconic.
Was Johann Sebastian Bach a good person? Does it matter? Does his creative output transcend the person? The Goldberg Variations in their first recorded form by Glenn Gould are as much a universal, divinely-inspired, musical statement as can be made by a human person. At once, the score itself, and then the interpretation of that notation touches the soul.
The interpreter of this divination, Glenn Gould was a deeply flawed, troubled and tormented individual who never lived to accomplish his potential.
QQ : 1. A BLUE PERIOD
Perhaps the most powerful anti-war statement ever made in a two-dimensional format is the painting “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso. This work, as well as his line drawing of “The Dove“ have achieved monumental status as symbols of the tragedy and damage that war inflicts on the innocent.
These works convey compassion and a depth of feeling in a startlingly powerful and universal language for all eternity. This would seem to tell us something about the artist. These two-dimensional prayers convey an intense sense of empathy and understanding of human pain.
Pablo thrived during much of the Second World War in France. He made his women and later, his children miserable; did not behave well on multiple levels and perhaps, according to some biographers, contributed to the pain and suffering of many of those closest to him.
If he was not a nice man, should we still idolize his work? Does the art survive as the man does not?
What kind of a man was Leonardo Da Vinci? Do we care?
Artists reflect what they see and sometimes what they would wish to see. What they see is not necessarily governed by ethics or morality. Some reflect what they see well. Some reflect only what they see or understand as good. Others only reflect what they see through the human torment of their individual existence. Van Gogh saw his universe as painfully beautiful, understanding that no amount of colour or texture could adequately describe the ultimate beauty of nature and human mortality. Monet's “Water Lilies“ perhaps reflect what is good about our human perception of nature and, therefore, of all creation.
However, we are deeply flawed in our existence. Goodness gracious, we have Original Sin.
QQ : 2. i-SLAVE
I suggest that Steve Jobs, was for all intents and purposes, an artist.
Steve took an adding machine, gave it a Bauhaus-inspired cladding and a human, friendly interface that has changed the way the world functions on many levels.
Is this an ultimate "good". For that matter, was Steve a good man? His recently released FBI files would suggest that on a criminal level, he was a good man.
Media is revealing that the efficient package, this glorified, adding machine that allows our tweet, sharing and hacking, relies on slave labour. This has brought Apple to a price level that has now made it the richest company on the planet.
Should we sanctify Steve for his good works?
Take this tablet and call me in the morning.
Meanwhile, I will consult my i-bible and Siri regarding i-ethics and i-morality. They are currently worth about $500 a share.
QQ : 3. MY MARTYR IS BIGGER THAN YOUR MARTYR
Our new moral and ethical police are an alliance of the ‘GOP/Fascist-neo-Christian-Mullahs’ with the Radical neo-Muslim/Fascist-Ayatollahs.
What they hold in common is the value of human sacrifice and the subjugation of women. This is a profoundly dark and significant alliance that convicts and punishes, proclaims and relegates a fundamentalist, dogmatic interpretation of ethics and morality that has a basis in pure, unfettered insanity.
For the ‘GOP Mullahs’, the ultimate symbol of sacrifice is Christ. As evangelists, their agenda is ruled by dominionism. That is Christ at any cost, by any means, moral or immoral.
For the other ‘Ayatollahs’, the ultimate symbol of sacrifice is any death that communicates their truth either by designated martyr or of perceived enemy.
Historical figures who have found truth have, at a minimum, sacrificed their freedom, and often their lives in support of their beliefs. The concept of martyrdom can be traced back to the ancient Jews refusing to recant their monotheistic beliefs. Socrates drank poison rather than recant his beliefs, Jesus was the ultimate martyr to give his life. Countless lost youth in the Middle East have strapped dynamite vests to their bodies in order to convey their truth to the world. Is there a more powerful way to send a message?
The assorted Dicks, Mitts and Newts invoke their mythological truth as the basis of their political agendas. The premise is that if sacrifice is involved, then it is inherently, by their definition, for the ultimate good,
Sacrifice = Good
Suicide in the name of truth = Good.
Jesus, the ultimate martyr is thought of as "good" because he gave his life for our sins. This gesture was supposed to send us a signal. The signal has been incorrectly received. We deified the man rather than the message.
When the truth-teller invokes martyrdom, that does not make his truth any more true than the next martyr around the corner. It generally just makes for another really dead martyr. Is my martyr better than your martyr?
QQ : 4. MY ALMA MARTYR
I vote for Lenny Bruce.
Lenny died for a bunch of words. Clearly, he had issues. He had original sin.
But the battle that he waged during his life as a comedian, commentator and entertainer was about the freedom of speech. The significant and important point about Lenny was that his bits were not a bunch of trivial joke telling cabaret entertainment. The content was a contemporary political commentary that predated Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and George Carlin by decades. It was important.
He was hounded and persecuted by the police until his life became impossible. He was a Martyr I could respect. He did not claim to be the son of God, he did not claim to have never sinned, he did not tie bomb vests around his followers and he absolutely did take the lords name in vain.
Was he brilliant? Yes. Was he good? That depends on what goodness means.
QQ : 5. LEMMING TREE VERY PRETTY
Popular music has suffered disproportionately from a lemming syndrome. Amy Winehouse, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Momma Cass, Karen Carpenter, Curt Cobain, Jim Morrison and more recently Michael Jackson and Whitney Huston.
All of these artists created anthemic, timeless music. Michael Jackson believed his truth. His truth made it OK to share his bed with children. Was he martyred for his truth? Is his music of a lesser value because of the conduct of his life? Perhaps there could be a boycott of his economic legacy. But then I would have to consider taking down the Picasso print on my bedroom wall.
Perhaps we could judge by degree. If in a hypothetical scenario, Adolph Hitler had painted the ‘Water Lily “series, would we still judge the art separately from the man?
On the other hand could our idealism of the artist have some basis in a larger truth? Perhaps Hitler was incapable of creating real art by virtue of his character. Did the "Man in the Mirror" "Beat It"...the rap?
QQ : 6. PHILANDERS, WOMANIZERS AND BAD BOYS.
The GOP/Ayatollah conspiracy agree on one fundamental agenda.
They don't trust the Penis. When the Penis is out of control, the only possibility of restricting its behaviour is to build impenetrable barriers to every possibility of Penile expression.
The best way to do this is to imprison women on every possible level and for every reproductive right imaginable. The GOP-Ayatollas can then justify pointing their judgmental fingers at thinkers, writers artists and leaders who have found their flies inconveniently undone.
The ultimate contemporary martyr with his Eros exposed was John F Kennedy who represented the last gasp of American idealism. Bill Clinton balanced a budget for the last time, looking into the conceivable future of our planet while getting a blow job.
The sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, the sanctity of life beginning at the moment of ejaculation, and the issue of women's reproductive rights has become front and center of our political debate based on the out-of-control Penis agenda.
Fatwas are imposed on the desecration of images without regard to the meaning of the symbol. Fiction writers and cartoonists are condemned to death and martyrs designated to carry out the sentences. In the name of a symbol, martyrs fly planes into buildings and kill as many infidels as they can.
And their motivation:
There will be seventy-two virgins in heaven.
QQ : 7. EINSTEIN and HITCHENS
These two thinkers agreed that we can have ethical moral lives without religion. We do not need God to tell us how to behave. Our natural human condition requires ethical behaviour for survival. We survive as family, as community, and as tribe in a manner that implies the simplest of concepts. Treat each other as we would like to be treated.
This fundamental concept is clearly not enough for us as we turn to our Truth Tellers.
There are two flaws, two deep, dark conflicts that cause all the trouble.
The first is the human male's sexual agenda. The second is our common mortality.
The largest, most formidable structure built by man, the pyramids represented a quest for immortality. But if we are mortal, we are compelled to attain immortality by any means possible. There are no rules other than those we can invent because nobody has come back from the unknown to tell us what the rules are.
Crosses, tall mighty and white tower above churches in the South where no non-Caucasian has ever entered. The flag symbol flies above Guantanamo. The Scales of Justice symbolize the SCOTUS where Justice is lost based on Political Expediency.
Contraception education and materials are banned from medical institutions who have a truth imposed by arbitrary truth-tellers based on nonsensical, unscientific insanity. Mythology dictates this agenda.
Albert Einstein was a thinker who saw beyond the infinite. He saw the curve of space and the flexibility of time. He debunked old concepts and allowed a vision into the future that opened up a multitude of possible advancements as well as the most hellish powers of destruction. Perhaps he saw God.
Albert had a dark side, His first wife would tell you stories. She was a formidable scientist in her own right. Al abandoned her and his child for his human male agenda. Second wife - second story. Does this behaviour lead us to judge his achievements in a different light?
Maybe...but light bends.
QQ : 8. SOME LIKE IT HOT
When it comes to martyrdom, I vote for another artist from my impressionable youth.
When Lee Strasberg of the actors studio dedicated his time and attention to Marylin Monroe, he saw into the future. Marylin was both actor and comedienne, but more than that, a pioneer in scratching the surface of who and what a woman could be in contemporary society, both on and off stage. Her talent was formidable. Her life was a tragedy.
I watch her image on the screen, in awe of her skill and her timeless awareness of the human condition. That men at the very peak of their powers found her irresistible was no surprise. John Kennedy, Arthur Miller and Joe Dimaggio used her and destroyed her.
She was a martyr.
QQ : 9. GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME
Our symbols define us. From the most ancient primitive cave paintings to the Eye of Providence depicted on the dollar bill.
Through the ages, we have created temples that house our treasured symbols. The architects of these temples are held in high esteem. They have created environments that have a deeply spiritual purpose connecting us with their contents in a reverential context for all eternity. These buildings are in fact Temples.
Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan; Gehry’s Bilbao museum in Spain, and the Pyramid at the Louvre designed by I.M. Pei are all edifices that speak to us in a monumental expression of all that is good in our humanity. These buildings are houses for the best, most skillfully-crafted expressions and reflections of life that we have been able to accumulate through recorded history.
The architects, the conceptualizers of these structures have created windows through which we can observe eternity. It could be suggested that their vision is heavenly-inspired.
Do we ask these men to behave in a required manner in their day to day lives in order to participate in the environments that they have created?
QQ:10. IMPERFECT PERFECTIONISM
Perhaps the Messianic ideal could be the source of our human troubles.
The concept that a Messiah could become human and behave without sin is a concept that disturbs the psyche with its impossible ideal. It creates damage.
In its name, bishops assault boys, Ayatollahs declare fatwas and Mitts demonize poverty.
Our human condition and the perfect ideal are a complete and total disconnect. We cannot be like Christ, Any amount of denial, chastity, vows of poverty and self sacrifice will not lead to the betterment of the human condition, nor will covenants with the old, bearded man in the sky.
Our humanity will not improve by censoring the reflectors of our condition. It is our job to live better lives. It is the job of the reflectors to show us what they see, what they hope to see and what is both good and bad in that reflection.
I despise the ethics and morality of Elia Kazan, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. Does that make them bad film makers?
I continue my internal dialogue and only because of the media exposure, am more than likely to change the channel when a Polanski film is on. Woody, though gets a qualified pass with some reservations.
I etch my artistic line in the sand at Genocide and child sexual abuse.
etched on my stone tablet
edit : Batsheva