Rendered Fat Content


Composition with Fruit, Guitar and Glass, Pablo Picasso, 1912
"My job, our job, seems to be to out appreciate our Old Masters."

Abstraction did not take the art world by storm, but by slow accretion, for the art world reacted to this change not as an opportunity, but as a threat to tradition. Societies care about tradition because their identity lies there, reinforced by the familiar and seemingly threatened by difference. Past masters serve as exemplars, and gatekeepers insist upon fresh works properly respecting pre-existing works without actually plagiarizing them. Revolutions knock on doors for decades before anyone opens in response. Progress leaves snails feeling smuggy about their swiftness. Once the door opens a crack, it might seem to fly wide open in an instant, but those artists who idled in enforced obscurity for decades understand than the orthodoxy never really wanted anything to change and will continue trying to subsume them into conservative normalcy in lieu of actually accepting the changes they bring.

I hear much mumbling about new normals, generally idle speculations about what will likely irreversibly change once our pandemic recedes.
Smart money probably bets on us fleeing back to just as close to where we came from, warts and all, since our identity still lives there, reportedly happily ever after, it being all most of us ever knew. Should meat become scarce, few of us seem likely to learn to live without it, seeing the shortages as backward progress rather than forward opportunity. Few really want a different normal, regardless of what they might proclaim, wanting to have changed rather than to actually change, and many will fight to preserve what never really worked all that well for themselves, regardless of the personal sacrifice involved. Our future will likely become some variant of the good old fashioned or die, with many dying in the struggle.

Still, change comes even if not immediately recognizable. We aspire for better and first experience change as some form of worse, probably a curse of what fails to pass as modernity. This response might simply be a manifestation of a biological imperative, for the first responsibility of every organism seems to be self preservation, with humans' definition of self expanded to include the social norms which preserved our existence up until they couldn't any more. What fresh traditions manage to wend and wrangle their way inside seems like nobody's job to decide, but defenders will nonetheless arise to chide every difference as evidence of moral, ethical, and social backsliding. Humans progress in ways more mysterious than any Lord's ways.

Last week's WhatNow? Stories attracted 707 unique page views, an easily averge-able value representing normal for then. I interpret it as just what it is, which is a number, not a metric of appreciation, reach, or value. I appreciate each viewer in arm's length abstentia, for the counter never hints at anything other than presence, and length of presence never registers. Likes and comments seem active enough to engage without overwhelming me. I watched with great and growing interest as a FaceBook Group eliciting Views Out My Front Window garnered over a million members in a week and posted a remarkable variety of fascinating images from all around the world. That group proved so successful that it finally fell so far behind curating fresh submissions that it closed itself to new members last week. Viral success brings what viruses always produce, a certain undermining overwhelm. Viruses proliferate until they kill their host. I'm pleased to report that my work has so far successfully avoided exponential viral spread as evidenced by my not being dead yet.

I started last week writing about
Aloneliness, with isolation solidifying its permanence and also demonstrating some difficult—to-appreciated benefits.

I then reflected upon how, under the old status quo's regime, I'd routinely attended retreats as a means for mustering mojo for moving forward in
Retreating, highlighting another of the many paradoxes imbedded in the old and now inaccessible normal.

I next wrote, in
Alchemy, about all the healers and cure-alls emerging from our pandemic, wondering what it might say about us who so vigorously seek to be cured.

I then waxed poetic by posting a poem I'd written for a favorite niece (as if they weren't all favorites) in
NotQuiteYetSpring, a piece about approaching without actually arriving (yet).

Then I told a story about the untold stories underpinning every victory throughout history so far in
Logistics. Do Not Take The Monkey Into The Cafe!

I then pined for a time when we stop telling each other what to do, what to believe, and what to think in
Evangelistic. I understand that you might have found the truth for yourself. What about that conversion experience led you to believe that you'd simultaneously found my truth? Stand back and let me stumble upon my own truths, please!

I ended my writing week by describing Tales Of The New Wild West in
MaskedMen, where the good guys wear the masks and the bandits go barefaced.

I see in these surviving stories intimations of what our new shared status quo might entail. I might be outgrowing the urge to return to normal, with new normals losing some of their allure. The pandemic's disruption seems to be shoving me off my foundation, an alarming situation but also a curiously promising one. I'm growing to expect some NewAbnormal out of this latest disconnection. At the risk of trivializing its impact, we always seem to concoct a NewAbnormal out of difference. Some will be able to concoct stories connecting genuine difference into an acceptable congruence with more traditional past status quos, but however hard anyone spins the experience, I doubt that our old Leonardo would have much appreciated anything about our new Picasso. My job, our job, seems to be to out appreciate our Old Masters.

Thank you all for being disoriented here with me through this unwanted passage.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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