Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Everything Old Is New Again

Last night, we watched a PBS documentary on Dorothea Lange.  It was a wonderful program.  As always, I was intrigued by the process of an artist.  As with many artists, she found fellow travelers.  One of the men she married was a painter.  Eventually, she divorced him to marry an economist, which intrigued me, given the subject matter of her photographs for which she is most well known.

Her photos, so iconic, seemed fresh to me--and much like the dystopian novels I've been rereading, sort of a scary alternate future, while also being so rooted in the Depression.  Talk on Saturday amongst educated people at my house focused briefly on whether or not we're headed for another market crash.  One friend talked about the stock market, while I'm a bit worried about the housing market down here in southeast Florida.

On Monday, I read this story about U2's special tour to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of The Joshua Tree.  My first thought was, wow, it's been 30 years.  And then I thought about the themes of that album, themes that once again seem fresh.

Last week in this story on the sequel to Trainspotting, I heard director Danny Boyle say, "As an elder of these events, all I can do is — something that we do recommend in the film, which is one of the few compensations of aging — is the realization that time isn't a straight line, actually that it loops. It's one of the few consolations available, I have to warn everybody. It does begin to loop rather beautifully, . . ."

I'm not sure that Boyle meant this type of looping, a social justice looping, where problems and issues that we thought were settled suddenly flare back up.  I thought about the quote from one of the laborers in the camps where Lange took pictures:  "Root, hoe, or die."  I worry that many of us are headed back to that hardscrabble life.

I think about the civilians torn apart by war that The Joshua Tree documents in its own way.  Here too, I worry.

In whatever new reality is racing towards us, those of us who are creative may find we are more important than ever.  Here's a Lange quote to inspire us all:  “Seeing is more than a physiological phenomenon… We see not only with our eyes but with all that we are and all that our culture is. The artist is a professional see-er.”

In this time, in all times, it's important to document--in all sorts of ways--what's happening all around us.

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