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The Great Charnel Houses in the Cloud

I want to follow up with some suggestions about conquering the Uninterrupted Prose Syndrome, by making verbiage "breathe" with some kind of pictorial illustration, gotten somewhere. (Let's ignore the fact that music might be even better for this purpose, since it's probably more technically difficult to get it into the blog post.) 

So off I will go, searching for shareable photographs in the great charnel houses for internet photographs, such as, Picasa, or Flickr. Blogs that have a Creative Commons License, such as a commenter's blog, are also worth a serious look.

Oops. There is a likely problem that we must address before rolling up our sleeves. Recall the controversy that good ol' Leo Tolstoy got into in the Colorado arts scene, one summer not so long ago. (grin) By invoking his arguments on "What is Art?" (free on Google Books), I am not trying to con you with an "appeal to Authority," as it might appear at first. A "big name's" theory is not necessarily correct. But can we agree that his is at least worth considering, before making up your own mind?

In short, Tolstoy thought the conventional world of Art was barking up the wrong tree in pursuing Beauty or the Pleasure to be gotten from viewing Beauty. Tolstoy thought that Beauty is just the pompous, but empty, term we use to describe whatever is de mode amongst the smart-set.

He finally answers the question in Chapter 5:
...that whereas by words a man transmits his thoughts to another, by means of art he transmits his feelings.

And it is on this capacity of man to receive another man's expression of feeling, and experience those feelings himself, that the activity of art is based.

To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling—this is the activity of art.

Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.
Now, I'm not going to use this as an excuse not to go looking for paintings and photographs that I can borrow to help my own blog posts breathe; but much of the art world only cares about Beauty, which in the final analysis, is nothing more than what sells to a bourgeois matron looking to fill empty spaces in her McMansion's living room.

Where can I find a world of illustration that isn't concerned about beauty, but can be used to transfer the emotional content of the thoughts being expressed, per Tolstoy? I'll bet it's the world of cartoons! (Such as they used to put in Barron's or The New Yorker.) Nobody can accuse them of being pretty, since they are just crude line drawings of poor verisimilitude. 

Consider an example. Last post I complained of the tedium of reading uninterrupted prose. Think of how much of human life through the ages has been captured by that one word, 'tedium.' So are artists too busy to bother with something so fundamentally important to the human condition? But just try to imagine a photograph or painting that expresses Tedium. Even if an artist were clever enough to think of one, they wouldn't do it because it wouldn't be beautiful enough. (That ugly word, again.)  Perhaps music could do a better job. Consider Eric Satie's Gnossiennes #1. (I am extremely grateful to a long-lost commenter who once suggested I look into Satie.)

But I can remember a couple cartoons from 20 years ago (!) that expressed tedium/futility in a way that knocked me off my feet.

Aw gee, now I have another internet search project: to find a (shareable) charnel house for cartoons in the cloud.


Anonymous said…
Your blog is a downer. Its just nothing but complaints. Surrounded by so much beauty and free to go anywhere, yet you always are complaining. I'm sad for you.

XXXXX said…
No pictures, cartoons, or music for me please. Language has its limitations, of course, and Tolstoy has a point in that art transmits feelings but if one is using a picture to transmit their particular (special) feeling, it won't work. Yes, a feeling will be evoked but not necessarily the same feeling.
Sure, as you mentioned, you get a big bang out of pictures. Lots of them seek the beautiful, at least, what is popular at the moment. But this is all a side path if you ask me.
If I see a movie after I've read the book, I am always disappointed in hollywood's representations of characters that, within my own mind, are clearly defined. I always like my own versions better since their creation is entirely personal. The power of fiction is its ability to evoke what lies below the surface and to breathe life into it, allowing the reader to work through the issues in their own way. Watching the movie is simply being exposed to someone else's version of things.
I do like art, don't get me wrong. But linking it to the written word can significantly change the message of the author.
Gosh, next we'll drag around a file of favorite pics so that we can flash them at the optimal times at our dinner partners. I suppose all the new phones that store thousands of pictures can do this magnificently. Can you imagine.....sitting at dinner having a conversation while someone constantly flashes pics at you conveniently stored on their smart phone??? As someone once said....I'm glad I'm teeing off on the last 9 holes.

Hey, Boonie, you keep on scratching around in the dirt as you do. I felt no complaints whatsoever in this writing, just a bubbling curiosity to see what is below the surface of things. Right on!
You say "complain," George says "bubbling curiosity."
Ours is to read, or not to read... and this serves to illustrate the "art" in Boonie's photo-less blog.
I don't particularly care for "modern art" because I don't understand it. Could be one's mindset overriding tolerance. Thankfully, there are a few who "get" Boonie. Doesn't mean they always agree, but they understand that in today's mono-culture world different points of view are critical... lest we lapse into a despicably calm sea of agreement. Where is the challenge and fun in that?
Box Canyon Mark
Ed said…
I enjoy Boonie's prose and the occasional picture that adds to what he has written. If he can continue to do the same thing with pictures that others have taken or with cartoons then I'm all for it.
Jeff, it sounds like you are the one doing the complaining.
George, "a feeling will be evoked but not necessarily the same feeling." If illustrations were tagged by keywords that describe an idea or theme, it would be possible for wordbags (like me) to find the right illustration for the theme of the paragraph in question.

"Lots of them seek the beautiful". The trouble is that MOST ALL of them do, since artists seek VALIDATION through selling their work, and the dumbshit buyers simply want to decorate their living rooms.

"If I see a movie after I've read the book". Yes, that is a natural response, but remember that the scriptwriter is paid to write for a completely different medium. They aren't "filming a book." I love Mozart's opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," but I'll bet people, who had FIRST seen the French play, disliked the opera because it wasn't "true" to the play. Today, the play is virtually forgotten.

"keep on scratching around in the dirt as you do". Gee, at least you didn't say 'raking the muck" instead! (grin)
Mark, thanks for the support. As for "Thankfully, there are a few who "get" Boonie", many of my readers probably still come from the RV blogosphere, and expect a "Where are Fred and Mildred TODAY" type blog, full of advertisements for the "RV Dream."

Although I will probably live as a full time RVer the rest of my life, I have no interest in RVers or RV culture. I gave up on them over a decade ago.
Thanks Ed, but I'm almost overwhelmed by the difficulty of finding shareable (and not necessarily free) cartoons, such as the New Yorker and Barron's used to have.
XXXXX said…
You know, that has always irritated me, someone labeling the appropriately-felt feeling of a visual composition. From the time I was a child, I wondered why my response wasn't the same as the prescribed response and that is my point.
I have the same reaction many times to political cartoons as I simply see something else in it since I have been exposed to the politics in the situation as well. Humor often requires at least a little mockery and one-sidedness in its viewpoint. Its purpose is often to rally believers and cause them to puff up with righteousness. For those who like to scratch around in the dirt, this type of game or power-play isn't appreciated.
That's probably why I prefer straight prose.
Ed said…
Cartoons and illustrations will probably be very difficult because of copyrights but there are a lot of free photos available to you.There are also some historical photo archives that allow free downloads that I think you could make good use of. Time magazine photos hosted by Google looked like an interesting source. Happy hunting, I look forward to what you may end up using - you have given me some ideas as well.
Ed said…
I dug a little deeper and came up with a cartoon source for you. The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog has cartoons; however, it appears that many of them are probably to small to be used but there are plenty that could be.
There are also enough photos to keep you entertained for a LONG time.
That kind of talk is what got you kicked off or Hitch Itch you know :))
TomInBellaVista said…
Your new colors remind me of the default color scheme of the Safari Browser on my MacBook Pro. (snicker)
Aaaargh! Now I'll have to change them again! (grin)