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MoPOP at dusk, Seattle

Friday, May 8, 2015

Culture & Design, etc.

Aubrey Beardsley
I gave a talk at Rotary a few months ago about decorative art and the millennial generation.

My talk, which was impromptu and off the cuff, was well received and the local editor Debbie, asked me to write something similar for the Fallbrook paper.

I penned something out quickly, but it was very rough indeed and before I knew it it was published, distilled down to 700 words or less.

Sort of a machine gun attack and not necessarily well thought out. But so be it. They printed it and time marches on.

My talk was much more in depth, I talked about art and design as it relates to the current social contract, how there was a reason impressionism started in France after the revolution, prior to, art principally being the province of the patricians and the clergy.


A little harsh, a little unfair, not very well thought out. Your basic machine gun attack. Should have taken a little more time with it. Surprisingly no comments, usually a couple local trolls take a swing at the piƱata but not this time for some reason. But I stand by the crux, we live in an increasingly coarse and brutish world and it is reflected in how we choose to feather our nests.

And now when I think about my short soliloquy, I realize there is much more to say. Like the millennials will tell you, it's not that they don't have taste, they happen to be broke. Housing, the cost of tattooing, piercing, hipster fedoras, all of these expenditures add up. Ikea ain't cheap either.

If you look at popular culture and the youth today, it is not hard at least for me to discern a bit of discontent. They aren't bullish on much, with maybe the exception of weed, crafty beer and instagram. I'm not loving a lot of what passes for artistic output these days, just not feeling it. Like the Sinatra freaks thought when they saw Elvis, whose fans in turn hated the Beatles, whose fans turned their noses up at the Sex Pistols.

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I am afraid that the regal ship of classicism has left our fair shores forever, replaced by a leaky rowboat of the current iteration of post post post modernism, unfortunately poorly wrought and conceived and pretty trite indeed.

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Arthur Rackham
I gave a set of Tolkein books to a friend's daughter, including LOTR and the Hobbit. I asked him how she liked them and he said, not so much. Too archaic, the language too foreign.

And I thought that this was a shame because the elizabethan quality of the prose and language was the most distinguishing thing about the books for me, the aspect I liked the most, along with the elegance of the middle world construction.

But this girl had been weaned instead on Harry Potter, whose language was not rich by any means and couldn't resonate with J.R.R. and my treasure was lost on her.

And I had a thought; that old and beautiful is now merely old to many of the current generation.

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I was in the library the other day and a male librarian sensed my frustration and discomfort and asked if he could help me.

"Yes, all of my friends are gone. Where are all the good books? There is no Stout, no Runyan, no Hammett, no Zelazny, no Dick, no Marquez, Stevenson, Forester, Dumas. Everything is so slick and empty, the literary ideas so well trod. Turtledove but no Sturgeon, Patterson but no Arthur Upfield. Where do you keep your authors?" He nodded his head and left without a word.

The truth is that I think that I am a person from a different time and that my long aversion from television is further widening the gap between me and popular culture. All of my authors and saints are now largely forgotten.

Death becomes her - Howard Pyle

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I was watching a Ford commercial at the hotel and I noticed that one of the female passengers had a tattoo script across her arm. And I thought, a rubicon has clearly been crossed when ad companies start to use the inked as models nationally.

It's fine with me, I just wonder what else I have missed. I know somewhere along the line, white people started liking rap music and huge behinds too and I was never sure about that one either.

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One of my clients announced last night that they were now focussing solely on the 70's, 80's and 90's. Good for him. I am sure that there are always gems lurking in the weeds.

Anyway business has been pretty damn good  for me lately and the world hasn't stopped, contrary assertions notwithstanding. My friends even tell me that they have had young people in their antique shops truly interested in the material. Younger people, apparently it just skipped a generation.

Life goes on.

William Morris - The Wood beyond the World 1894

1 comment:

Rebecca S. Bradbury said...

Dear Mr. Somers,

Thank you for writing such an insightful and definite article on the decline of taste and appreciation in the general public.

Best regards,

Rebecca Stout