Illustration of the day ( A Message ) / Ilustracija dana (Poruka)
This drawing was inspired by one famous old oil painting. That oil painting depicts a woman sitting behind a desk and writing a letter. It struck me that a modern scene would be slightly different. A contemporary woman wouldn't be doing that, she wouldn’t be writing a message on a paper (not as a main means of communication anywhere, albeit she might write a letter if she wanted to leave something tangible in the hands of the recipient of the message). Instead a modern woman would be writing a message on a cell phone (probably smartphone, everyone’s got one at this point) or an iPhone. She might still be surrounded by books, especially if she prefers to shy away from e-books (like myself although I can’t deny that they are sometimes more practical) and prefers to hold a book while reading it.
However, what would truly be different? She might still pause to think and gaze into distance. What is she thinking about? Is she writing to a lover or a friend? To a family friend or to some figure that is somehow very important to her, perhaps not in an emotional but in some other way? Why is she pausing? What is he trying to do? Perhaps she is not even writing a letter, perhaps she is writing a poem. It could also be that she is doing both, thinking of some clever line or rhyme to achieve a compelling effect. I don’t think so, though. I think matters of heart are at stake. I may not be right. That’s the power of art. It never stops talking. The best novel is the one that always has something to say and the same applies to a painting, I would dare to say. Art is truly timeless. It reaches for the eternal and fundamental basis of our souls. Through language of symbols, shape, colours, emotions, metaphors and what not, it speaks to our souls, reminding us of things we have forgotten and never knew we had in us. That applies to any art. That is why great art is precious.
I can't help feeling that most oil paintings from 16 century depict women better that any cover or any magazine. The view we get of them is wonderfully intimate and hauntingly beautiful. Not that a photograph can’t do the same. It can and it does. Covers of magazines are also sometimes art, but not always (obviously), because most of them are there to sell you something, make you buy that magazine. Art is not about that, art is as vulnerable as a newly hatched bird (and not a duckling that can walk as soon as it hatched but more like baby parrots and hawks, disturbingly clumsy and innocent). Art is all about letting our guard down, of experiencing deeper feelings and states. When I look and swipe through art books, I’m perplexed by the way woman were portrayed and by the way they are today. I compare these paintings with images that I see around me and I’m almost shocked. There is so much reverence for woman in old painting. They're often depicted as deeply sophisticated, at least if the look in their eyes is any judge of things.
I’m not suffering from a bad case of nostalgia. I don’t believe that in past things were better but I don’t believe they were much worse either. For fundamental issues, those that really shake our core, remain the same. Matters of heart are still important, we still fall in love and we still make mistakes, we still fear for our loved ones. We still struggle to find courage to truly love and we are still terrified of not being loved in return. Art isn't something that interest everyone. Hyper production makes us exposed to marketing 24/7. I’m aware that what we see is often marketing, that hyper production of visual images (paintings, photographs etc) creates a noise that is hard to navigate. Sometimes it does get overwhelming. It is not there isn’t good art, it is just that it is less visible, although not quite invisible (yet).
Mona Lisa is staring at us from every t-shirt and every mug, but the thing is that it is not really Mona Lisa. We only think that is what we’re seeing but what are we really seeing? I’m not even talking about vulgarization of art and what it means for a painting to have its frame changed and its colour altered (as always happens in reproductions). That kind of thing robs a painting of its power, but I'm not even getting into that. The question is.....Being exposed to Mona Lisa in all ways possible can we experience it in a way it was experienced by the first people who saw it? When Leonardo’s inventions in creating colour must have felt like divine intervention to people gazing upon them for the first time? Can we experience it as people of Renaissance? Today we like to believe ourselves smart because of we have smart phones, but do they really make us smart? When one reads accomplished writers from the period of Renaissance, one is amazed by the broadness and the span of their education. They were interested in everything, they wanted to know a bit about everything. Today we are certain that we know everything and if we sometimes discover it is not so, we assume we can always download some app to help us learn that. How wrong we are!
Not that I'm again apps, mobile phones or internet. Not that I'm against cameras. It is never about the medium. There is an amazing number of talented photographers today whose works are as high achievements as those 16 century art paintings. There are wonderful writers today and a fair number of educated people. These photographers and writers are not always found in mainstream, though. You certainly won’t find their staring back at you from every corner. What kind of images do we find at any corner? In advertisement, I see a lot of things that I would be inclined to call pornography. I’m not talking about nudity but of vulgarization. Off course that vulgar minds existed in the past as much as they do today. But were they always so trendy as they are today? It doesn't matter that Mona Lisa stares at us from reproductions. If we as society don't learn to appreciate art, it doesn't matter at all.
That’s what worries me. Not the hyper production but this implied modern idea that everything is equal. Well, it is not, some painters are better than others and some people like myself aren’t painter but hobby artists. Likewise, not every representation of a woman is art, even if art was often inspired by women. I’m talking about an issue that troubles me and that is how woman are depicted today, how they depict themselves with their selfies and so called self-portraits. An average ‘self-portrait’ is that of a body part. What happened with the eyes? What happened with sophistication? What happened with expressing sophisticated states and emotions? What does that say about us? What I’m talking about is the tenderness one notices in old paintings. Those painters loved those women. Maybe not in a romantic way, maybe some of them were gay, others married and not interested in particular model that was sitting for them but that doesn’t change anything. The way women are depicted in old art is often so tender it makes you cry. Those painting were painted by mostly men. What am I trying to say? Let’s not blame men for everything.
Yes, in the past women didn’t have some rights they have today, well at least not those of the lower social standing (queens didn’t exactly get discouraged from getting an education, were they?), but that doesn’t mean that many of them were not loved and respected. Speaking of education, who discourages us from getting an education today? Everyone has an internet connection, but what do we primarily use it for? Do we use it for scientific research and learning about achievements of mankind? Yeah, right. Internet is mostly used for porn. You may say that it is mostly men who surf web for porn, but there are plenty of woman that do it too and a lot of those who post pornographic content to benefit from it in one way or another. Depressive fact, but there it is, let’s not beat around the bush. Not that pornographic content didn’t exist before, but it was not exactly a part of the mainstream. It wasn’t widely accepted and children surely weren’t exposed to it in the past. What will happen with these new generations exposed to such scenes of violence from an early age? Today we’re being told that it is a positive thing that there are more women directors of porn films. WTF? What ever happened with more women directors of history and educational documentaries? Whatever happened with more women in art? No, let’s have more women in porn. All in the name of equality.
Ladies, if we’re not going to respect ourselves, nobody is going to respect us. You can’t have it all. You can make a lot of money with sexual content and then complain society only judges you solely on your looks. I’m not saying we should judge everything, but we must be aware that we are what we choose to be. If you want to be a porn star, that’s fine, but you can’t be one and complain nobody takes your intellect in consideration. If you want to show your intellect, get a job at NASA. Well, porn starts are usually not the ones that whine and complain, that’s reserved for starlets and celebrities. That’s what 99 percent of women Hollywood stars are doing. They don’t complain about being ‘judged’ by their looks while they’re earning millions of dollars on advertisements that sell products. These stars don’t go and say to L’oreal, you know I’m all about the intellect, let’s include literary quotes in our commercial, do they? You can play the victim all you want but in the end the person you’re reducing is only yourself. I’m not saying there is anything wrong in making money on advertising products, but you can’t keep on participating in sexualisation of marketing, you can’t keep putting out vulgar content and expected to be treated as Marie Curie. If you want to be treated as Marie Curie, do what she did and dedicate your life to science. Read a biography of Maria Montessori. That was courage, that was being a visionary. If you can’t be that, don’t blame the society for it.
Today people want to enjoy vulgarity, but they can’t stand it be called that. No, showing your body parts to make money that’s not vulgar, that has to be called art. Pornography has to be called feminism. That’s so f***** hypocritical, it’s not even funny. If you are a celebrity you know it was your choice to get into that world, and you were willing pay the price. You can still do useful things; the thing is that you don’t want to (most of them anyway). You want the world bow down to you if you make one movie that has ‘artistic’ tendencies or donate a fraction of your wealth to charity. If you want people to really listen to you, try learning how to say something really meaningful. The world is not ignoring you because you’re a woman but because you have nothing to say that isn’t an advertisement of some food regime or other. I listen to many women on daily basis. I listen to them carefully because they have important things to say. In addition, I read many books written by women. If their names are not _____ (insert any Hollywood star) and ______ (insert any pop star), it is because Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood have more meaningful things to say that women who sell soft porn for a living. They’re better writers than starlets, they’re more intellectual, one can actually learn something from them. Their eyes aren’t empty as eyes of those who reduced themselves on body parts. I’m judging startles, I’m just saying to each its own. Let’s not call a bike a Ferrari so that we wouldn’t hurt somebody’s feelings.
The tragedy of our time is not that there is no Leonardo. The problem is that he is unemployed and nobody is about to commission a painting from him. The problem is not that women are objectified by men, the problem is that they are objectified by themselves. They have reduced themselves to body parts and that’s really tragic. Bigger lips, bigger buts, smaller waist…One can say that there were always trends in beauty, that women always tried to make them fit some beauty standard and they were right. However, today the trend has taken on worrying proportions. High art was always elitist; it was never something that masses could understand but at least the masses had some respect for it. Vulgar content always existed but it wasn’t always praised. Deep down inside people were aware that there is difference between content, that a vulgar pornographic sketch isn’t the same as an amazing painting that is a work of art. Today they aren't aware of that. Today everything is considered art, but that only means that nothing really is.
Today we believe that everything should be equal to everything. Yeah, that's going to end well. Yet this idea sneaks us on us. It whispers ‘you deserve it’ and ‘why should anyone be better than you?’. My dear people, if we aren’t able to see our shortcomings and admire those better than others, we will never learn anything. We have to stop putting on pink glasses all the time. Hollywood actresses aren’t a part of entertaining industry, God forbid saying something like that! They’re artists, visionaries, they bring us message from the heavens, they’re incarnation of all wisdom. Why not just call them what they are? People of some talent who make their money mostly by advertising products. For most part, these ladies are a mixture of models and actresses. There is nothing wrong with that and I don’t disrespect them in any way. I do get annoyed when they complain how they are exploited. A slave woman is being exploited somewhere in the world in the moment. A Hollywood star? You’re getting millions of dollars to look a certain way, you’re not being exploited, you’re being spoiled.
We’ve forgotten what it means to have a real relationship. We don't value genuine and profound feelings and as a result, our eyes sometimes show an emptiness of a soul. Not that today doesn’t exist a woman with a sophisticated look in her eyes. It is just that her image won’t make front news. Hyper production of women's body parts is more important. Sure, in the past there was as much gossip and as much obsession about celebrities as it is today. Still, isn’t it sad that today we have all this access to education and nobody is using it? Can you imagine how a beggar would have felt if someone in medieval Europe offered to take him to see all the great museums and paintings? Today many museums have no admittance fee, but they’re still empty. Today art is accessible to everyone, you can find all the greatest achievements of human kind online, but nobody wants to. We like to think of ourselves advanced, but often we forgot the meaning of loyalty and hard work. Not that people didn’t run after status in the old days. Sure, they did. In the past, there was a much vulgarity as today, but it wasn’t declared state’s religion. It wasn’t something we glorified. That is the danger of the modern world. Glorification of trash, calling trash treasure.
A courtesan in 16 century period was sometimes an educated woman, one that borrowed money to poets, one that was something akin to the business woman. She was respected if she had education and style and if she didn’t she was called common. Today it is politically incorrect to call an educated women educated and an uneducated woman uneducated. I suppose I’m a bad person because I say I prefer reading an interview with Toni Morrison’s to that with ________ (insert any starlet)? I’m not saying that we as women should judge other women, I’m saying that those who really achieved something deserve to be praised more than those who didn’t. If a woman is pretty, but of limited intelligence that we should not call her stupid but complement her for being pretty (without feeling jealous) and we should reserve the complement of intelligence for those deserving of it, even if they, God forbid, happen to be men. Today it is politically incorrect to state the most obvious things.
The problem of today’s world is that messages gets lost. Everyone is busy playing the star, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and nobody wants to spend 5 minutes reading something meaningful. It is not that people don’t write letters. It is not about the medium. Technology doesn’t do any harm to human soul, it doesn’t take sophistication from it. You either have it or you don’t. We can write an email that can be as long and as profound as any 10 pages long letter, but how often do we do that? That’s the problem. It’s not technology, it’s us. It is our human weakness of taking the easy way out. Likewise, it is not always man who objectify woman. Sometimes women objectify themselves. Sometimes they prefer the professions that are all about the looks. That’s ok and we shouldn’t judge one another for it, but let’s not blame the man for it. If you’re a women living in the west, you probably have access to education. You don’t have to make use of it but you shouldn’t complain that society judges you solely on your looks. In other words, if you don’t work at NASA, it’s not the fault of men. Maybe you just suck at math (like me).
Today I see danger in false political correction. I see danger in people learning the right words and applying them to wrong things. I’m afraid of social activism that turns into terrorism. I’m afraid of everyone believing they are entitled to everything because that often ends up in people stepping one over another. We are afraid to admit that not everyone is the same. If I had to be operated tomorrow, I should want to be operated by the best surgeon in the hospital. I wouldn’t want to operate by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. I won’t lay on that table and say, I want my surgeon to be gay because I support gay rights. You can’t turn everything into social activism. Everyone is an activist these days. How many of us really act like human beings? How many of us put others first? How many of us are willing to risk our lives for the sake of others? Not just our lives but our time and all we got?
The danger of our present world is not just hyper production, self-obsessed selfies and content, it is not just the porn that surrounds us (though it certainly isn’t a positive thing). The problem is that we have stopped perceiving porn as porn. We have start calling porn feminism. The danger is not that there isn’t as much art as there is vulgarity, but that someone makes porn and calls it art. What is worse is people buy into that. Talk about 1984 coming to life! Newspeak is here to stay. All you need to reduce a person to nothing is to make him or her seem politically incorrect. I have a problem with that. It annoys me in a same way as when a person who can’t get one accent right is a news anchor. It angers me when someone expects for the world to bow down in front of them because they happen to feel blue. I don’t believe that everyone deserves equal admiration. We should admire those that are really great and respect the rest. Yes, respect everyone but apply some objectivity when it comes to ourselves. Let’s stop spoon feeding one another, we’re adults for f**** sake. It is not normal that everyone wants to be a star. Playing dress up and stardom occasionally, I get it ( I have a fashion blog, don’t I?) but when did we start making everything about that? When have we become obsessed with images of ourselves?
The problem is not that there is no Leonardo Da Vinci to paint that mysterious grin, the problem is that we’re too busy with porn face selfies for ever to have that grin in the first place. I'm pushing this metaphor a bit, but only so that I could make a point. Sophistication is something that needs to be developed, it's not an app that we can download. Love is about choices we make, it is not available for sale. What happened with loving one another? What happened with our eyes being windows of our souls? No, wait, it’s all about butts now. Well, call be jealous because my butt is of an average size, even if my hips are a bigger than the norm. Call me crazy because I consider my butt to be irrelevant and am not even sure what it exactly looks like. Call me crazy because I read a book almost every day. Call me pretentious. Call me a snob. What do I know? I must be a terribly privileged woman if I have a 40 000 words vocabulary. Yes, that’s it. Privilege. That is why I have a decent vocabulary. It is not because I took time to read a lot of books or write a lot of essays. I must have ‘sooooo much time on my hands’ if I was able to learn how to put two sentences together. Must be from all that time I saved not working on my butt.
P.S. I’m well aware of the irony of speaking of dangers of hyper production while posting an articles composed of +3400 words and being for most part a daily blogger.