Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finding the Real in the Midst of All That Fake Crap

Over the Top, mixed media with encaustic on panel, 30" x 30", 2011

Mona Lisa, mixed media with encaustic on panel, 30" x 30", 2011

These two new pieces are headed for Arden Gallery in Boston on Saturday if you are in the neighborhood and want to see them in person. The newest material I am using in the mix of elements is record album covers. If you click on the images to enlarge, you may see some evidence of that.

Last Sunday I sat in our newly-arranged dining room, which is now more like a reading/sitting lounge, and read the NY Times. I haven't done that for a while and it was great to page through all that stuff and try to find something of interest. What struck me was how many articles I saw that dealt with authenticity or The Real. I guess now all those TV reality shows have finally become reality. That is, there is nothing real any more; there are just people claiming that they are real.

Rant alert: By the time I got to the end of this post, I was rip roaring, so if you're not in a mood for a political, anti-war rant, stop reading now and just think mild, pleasant thoughts.

A case in point about authenticity: Stephanie Rosenbloom under "Cultural Studies" cites the following people who claim they are "authentic:" Michele Bachmann, Anderson Cooper, Sarah (Duchess of York) Ferguson, Jon Huntsman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Katie Couric, Rick ("I hate the Gays so much that I must be one") Santorum and Pope Benedict XVI.The only names missing from that list are the Kardashians, authentically fake celebrities - famous for nothing except being famous.

According to Rosenbloom's article, the problem of people claiming to be authentic, which makes them automatically inauthentic, is that they are maintaining virtual selves in their social media personae. We are all apparently split personalities because of Facebook or because we're trying to be celebrities/politicians. We all want to edit out the boring parts (the "real" parts?) and just get to the personalities and faces we want to present as our authentic selves.

Or, if we can't blame it on Facebook and Twitter, we can chalk it up to Oprah, who popularized finding your "authentic self" in the 1990s (she's gone now and can't object). If it's not that "O," then it's the other O, as in the prez. You have to know that Obama's in trouble when Maureen Dowd turns on him, as she's been doing in her columns for a while now. Last Sunday she called him the Sleeping Beauty President who only awakes when his polls take a downturn. He's a split-personality president, she says, who is divided between Energizer Barry and Enervating Barry and that confuses people (no wonder) because we never know which one we're gonna get.

This sets the stage for Rick Perry, who always comes across (this is me talking) as Worse than Bush.

He is authentically frightening. When the languid, non-combative Obama is the only figure standing between this bible-thumping, death-sentencing, climate-change-pooh-poohing, evolution-denying, swaggering, anti-intellectual and us, we are in some disastrous trouble. I thought we had dug ourselves out of the black hole of Bush-Cheney, but it's not looking good.I am authentically worried by the looming reality of this possibility. And let alone the horrific damage he can do to our country, how can I even stand listening to Lamebrain II? Don't make me have to live through this again. Pullease!!!

Post 9-11
Then there was the article about 9-11 headed "Outdone by Reality: How artists and writers struggled to find a deeper meaning--or simply turned up the volume and headed for the Jersey Shore." You see what I mean about reality shows permeating culture? Could this fake authenticity have started with the 9-11 attack? Yes, it happened and it was horrific, but look how many politicians took advantage of it -- starting with Bush and Juliani? And then Bush-Cheney started the unending wars that have bankrupted our country and killed and wounded so many thousands. Meanwhile, we all go on with our lives and pretend those wars are not happening. No, it's not Vietnam all over again because there is no draft. There are no marches in the streets, no protests except for a few "nuts", there is no civilian pressure to end the wars. In fact, it's the reverse. People worry that if the Defense Department cuts back, they will lose jobs manufacturing arms and materiels. Those wars could go on forever just like 1984. Who can deal with the reality of all this?

I have to stop reading the paper.


Thérèse said...

I am just hoping the definition of the single word "Reality" is not going to change in dictionaries...

sukipoet said...

I must say i enjoyed reading your rant and that says a lot as i do not read or talk or think about politics beyond listening to NPR. my brain is too small. congrats on your two paintings in the show.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

you crack me up! love your rants because they are so authentically ranty!

Tanya said...

I appreciate you so much! Thank you for that "rant"; I needed it!

Nancy Natale said...

Therese - I hope you are right, but I think it probably has a few asterisks next to it.

Suki - I'm glad you enjoyed the rant and it didn't turn off your political receptors. Also, thanks for your mention of my work.

Leslie - My life is one long rant. I just turn it off now and then to breathe!

Anonymous said...

Love the new work, and the rant!