Philosophy and Motorcycles

Philosophy and motorcycles are two of my favorite things in life. This blog will be bits of wisdom gleaned from a misspent youth and an adventurous dotage. People who like/love wisdom or motorcycles, classic or modern versions of either, are welcome to visit and comment.

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Location: Wisconsin, United States

I have been married to the same lovely woman for decades. We have one son, two cats, and live in rural Wisconsin, USA. I ride and rebuild motorcycles, and I am semi-retired. Favorite bikes are Yamaha XS650, FJ1200 and Ducati 900SS. My wife is a home care nurse. I am a Myers-Briggs INTP. She is ESFJ. Our son works at the Apple store in downtown SF and is teaching English as a second language in San Francisco, no grandchildren.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cohorts

Sometimes I feel my age. That third flight of stairs that leaves me short of breath is a reminder that I'm not, in my grandmother's words, "a spring chicken." I'm well into my 7th decade and sometimes it shows. Yet when thinking about my age I think of more than just my physical age. We are all a product of a certain age or era or timeframe. I'm just a bit too old to be a boomer which puts me somewhere between the beatniks and the hippies. I am squarely an American Graffetus, a child of the hot rod era.
Out in Dismal Flats where I was raised young boys talked, dreamed, planned, read about and sometimes actually built or bought hot rods. Rod and Custom magazine was our bible and we dreamed of moving to California where we believed at least half the people must drive wonderful hot rods or custom cars all with no rust. Ah sweet memories.

Fast forward to the 70s and I owned a shop restoring vintage automobiles. Anything post war was considered junk but there were a lot of depression era men who were finally getting that Model A roadster they could only dream about when they were young. Other products of the era were campers and conversion vans. It was about that time that I saw a poster that read "If Rembrandt were alive today he'd be painting cars." At the time I thought that statement was profound. There was some very detailed art work appearing on vans and custom cars at the time. The implications of the statement were different for me when that old poster popped into my mind this morning. For some reason I awoke thinking about that poster.

What would Rembrandt be doing if he were alive today. I suspect he would be working for a corporation designing graphics for video games or movie special effects. Is it even possible to make a living as creating fine art in this era? Where are the fine art masters of our era? When was the last time there was a museum exhibit of traditional fine art by a current master on display? My trips to museums and galleries in recent years have introduced me to some interesting work but nothing that would compare to the work of Rembrandt's day. I recently read of a display of "art" that consisted of peanut butter spread over an area of floor in the museum. The "artist" was excited, and angry, because someone had walked on the goo. I saw an egg shaped bundle of dried vines bound together with a mask in its center. Interesting, but is it fine art

My thoughts lead me to conclude that corporate culture has so pervaded, invaded, our thinking and our lives that we don't even notice it. The wonderful imagination and vision being put into games, movies, advertisements is fascinating. The art on display at galleries is largely stale, folk art, or designed to bring attention to the artist rather than to the art. The very idea of studying for 20 years, producing five hundred paintings that end up in the fireplace, and then painting one that is worthy of showing is anathema to moderns. There is no money in it. There is no immediate gratification or press release notoriety. We seem to have gone from the process of doing art to the state of being an artist. I suspect it's another offshoot of that sad state of mind that says "Hey mom, look at me, mom, mom, look at me." Don't look at what I do, look at me. Don't comment on my art, talk about me. In the corporate world it translates into don't look at what I do, look at what I have. Look at where I am not how I got there. How many people are famous for their product compared to those famous for their lifestyle affectations? If Rembrandt were alive today would he be famous for what he produced or would he need to act out in some strange way to bring attention to shoddy art? Could a Rembrandt survive today without having to prostitute his skills to sell more pills?

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