‘The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.’
Isn’t ‘urban exploration’ a bit ruin-pornish?
The individual travels along with small groups, trespassing through city-scapes and abandoned buildings as though they were archeological ruins. Breaking the law or possibly breaking the law is part of the appeal.
Perhaps such folks are traveling as well through their own imaginations, romanticizing themselves as transgressive outsiders, taking the idea of archeology as fixed knowledge and applying it to their own present as though it were a mythic, imaginative quest, where some camaraderie, historical meaning and beauty are to be found.
A video explanation:
Naturally, one impulse expressed here is the desire for group membership and meaning. Like kids who’ve found something new and cool to do, some recognition is desired from others or from society at large, even if it’s negative. There’s a vagabond-hipster feel to much of this, and it’s easy to imagine listening to an indie-music-montage with the latest stop-motion technology or documentarianism when one looks at the photos.
Readers will know I tend to think some of this is a sign of a newer, more anarchic/nihilistic individualism and subsequent collectivism in our culture that is partially, but not wholly, a product of the 1960’s.
One theme of this blog is how this process of increased nihilistic individualism merges with a search for meaning, group membership and identity in our culture, as in the above. This can increase the desire for collective solutions to problems, which can cast increased upward pressure on old boomer/nationalistic liberalism and liberalism in general.
At the very least, we end-up rehashing the battles of the 60’s in perpetuity. Liberalism follows the logic and incentives it’s helped to create.
James Fallows at the Atlantic, former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, is now exploring the wonders of post-hippie settlers in Vermont to stay relevant to a new generation of readers: Vermont Report: Shaping The Soul Of A School.
I didn’t know schools had souls.
Don’t you want to live in Austin, or Boulder, or Portland, or Williamsburg (not colonial, addition: yes, there’s sarcasm here )?
NPR looks at hipsterism while their guiding ideals have helped create hipsters through all that boomer’s 60’s activism. One challenge is mixing the Lawrence Welk crowd while staying relevant with the hipsters they’ve helped create.
Related On This Site:What about the victims of crime, not all this romanticization of criminals?: Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’.
Two ways around postmodernism, nihilism?: One is Allan Bloom Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’… Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…
Institutionalized Leftism in the Arts: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’…Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?
Fall was in the air today. Photo here.
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
Optical devices were likely common practice more than is commonly known these days, way before the camera, the television etc.
As previously posted:
Just as optics revolutionized the sciences and the boundaries of human knowledge, from Galileo to Newton and onwards, Tim Jenison wonders if optics may have revolutionized the arts as well.
‘But still, exactly how did Vermeer do it? One day, in the bathtub, Jenison had a eureka moment: a mirror. If the lens focused its image onto a small, angled mirror, and the mirror was placed just between the painter’s eye and the canvas, by glancing back and forth he could copy that bit of image until the color and tone precisely matched the reflected bit of reality.’
Good Vermeer page here for a refresher on the Dutch master.
Penn & Teller helped make a documentary which has gotten good reviews, entitled ‘Tim’s Vermeer.‘
They discuss the project and Tim’s theory below (perhaps only the Girl With The Pearl Earring knows for sure if the painter used such a technique):
Click through for the illustrations to help explain Feynman’s theory, which fascinated me when I first came across it; much as I understand of it.
Have you ever seen sunlight reflecting off a body of water from a few thousand feet up in a plane? A rainbow in a puddle with some oil in it? A laser reflecting off a smooth surface like a mirror?
Related On This Site: In The Mail: Vivian Maier
Goya, that modern, had to make a living from the royal family: Goya’s Colossus…Goya’s Fight With Cudgels…Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And Thinkers…NASA Composite Image Of The Earth At Night…Beauty?…Garrett Mattingly On Machiavelli-The Prince: Political Science Or Political Satire?
Via Pejman Yousefzadeh via Dylan Byers:-From The AP Press: ‘8 Ways The Obama Administration Is Blocking Information:’
Those czars have to report back to central command, I imagine, and it’s worthy of note that this is the AP making a specific list of charges:
6) One of the media — and public’s — most important legal tools, the Freedom of Information Act, is under siege. Requests for information under FOIA have become slow and expensive. Many federal agencies simply don’t respond at all in a timely manner, forcing news organizations to sue each time to force action.
7) The administration uses FOIAs as a tip service to uncover what news organizations are pursuing. Requests are now routinely forwarded to political appointees. At the agency that oversees the new health care law, for example, political appointees now handle the FOIA requests.
The modern Presidency is full of ‘optics,’ but the current White House is very invested in how the President is seen, spurning media outlets for its own carefully planned PR photos and branding. When all that PR meets reality….well:
Behold a trailer for an episode of the original Star Trek. Catspaw’:
Moving along, Amity Shlaes offers a critique of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Roosevelts, and the political philosophy that often leaks through:
‘On the surface, the series’ penchant for grandees might seem benign, like the breathless coverage of Princess Kate’s third trimester in People magazine. In this country, elevating presidential families is a common habit of television producers; the Kennedys as dynasty have enjoyed their share of airtime. Still, Burns does go further than the others…’
More substance at the link. The Roosevelts earn a special place in the modern pantheon, greater than that of the Kennedys, much more intellectual than the John Lennon pathos, more old-timey than the righteousness of 60’s coalitions and Woodstock nostalgia, and more native and local than the obsessive Royal Baby Watching.
In the above video Burns discusses how he is primarily an artist, not an historian. He does, believe, however, that his work has other goals besides art. He sees himself as:
“…rooted in a humanist tradition of American History..that includes not just the old top down version, but the bottom up version that acknowledges women and labor and minorities….”
I’m guessing such a vision of the public good acts as a beacon for many at PBS, NPR, and other people interested in speaking for all of the public. Usually they end up, like all of us, presuming their ideals are universal and forming coalitions of self-interest, money, sentiment, political influence etc. Their ideals have clear limitations and consequences.
Who among us can speak for all the public, or design some rational framework upon epistemological foundations that could ever do so?
To my ears, it’s pretty clear Burns’ ideals lead him to his own top-down version of things. It would seem Big Labor, Left-liberal Woody Guthrie-like populism, coalitions of 60’s activists, feminists, environmentalists etc. tend to prosper under such a vision.
At what cost to me, to you, to those who might not share in the ideals?
Addition: Shlaes’ suggestion seems correct. Burns has done a lot of work to put this piece together, to tell a story and to also try and get many facts right. It may also focus on some issues and not others, may be biased and examining history through an ideological lens. In a competitive marketplace of ideas, it’s incumbent on opposing points of view to offer their own films that do the same.
Related On This Site: What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”…
I’m drafting on Charles Murray: The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’
Free speech and Muslimst From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’… ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted‘During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’…From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’… More From Spiegel Online After The Westergaard Attacks Via A & L Daily: ‘The West Is Choked By Fear’
From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’
70 photos of the abandoned, foreboding Temple. Mysterious symbols and a certain sad grandeur that’s come to represent Detroit these days.
-Photographer Ben Marcin has a series called ‘Last House Standing.’ Solitary row-homes…the only ones left on the block.
Also On This Site: From Buzzfeed: ‘Why I Bought A House in Detroit For $500:’
How did Detroit get here? Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.
Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself? See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).
Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either: A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’
GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’