Sunday, November 06, 2005
This past week I was lucky enough to not only enjoy unseasonably warm weather, but also some of the greatest collections of art in the world at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. I particularly enjoyed a collection of Van Gogh drawings at the Met and an exhibit of Edward Burtynsky's photographs in Brooklyn. But visiting a museum is always a bittersweet affair for me, particularly when viewing treasures of antiquity. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of these objects, but at the same time I feel such sorrow when I wonder where the modern equivalents of these treasures are. Perhaps they are tucked away in the houses of the rich, and maybe that's the way it's always been. But even the most mundane of ancient household items seem to be infused with culture and craftsmanship. This is not just adornment for adornment's sake - no, the hand of one who's life is steeped in tradition cannot help but impart that subtle fragrance on everything it touches. Our age of mass-production has brought about mass-mediocrity. Which died first - craftsmanship or the myths and traditions which inspired craftsman? We've traded our old myths for new ones - the myths of Man and Technology - and it is these myths which inform the stuff of our everyday existence. But if Man and Science are at the center of the new mythic universe, how can these myths inspire? Surely it is not possible for us to lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps. One need not look further than the isles of a supermarket or a row of strip malls for evidence of these failures.