Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Know I Haven't Been On Here In A While...

Oh, joy. Blogger changed its interface while I was gone and now I can't find anything. Everything is all huge and white and intimidating, and the buttons have been minimalize and 'streamlined', as they like to call it. Presumably, the designers were aiming for a 'modern' look. I suppose they achieved that. However, not everyone likes the modern look, and I certainly qualify as someone who does not necessarily like it.

That brings to mind the Chattanooga trip last weekend. If I had blogged earlier in the week, I probably would have been in the mood to write a long post about it, but I'm not really in the mood now. Nevertheless, I think it is incumbent upon me to share a few details.

All right. So we went up to Chattanooga in a very nice bus (with blue carpeted ceiling). I wish I had had the foresight to bring along Elaine's iPod, even if that meant I had to listen to Kenny Chesney. After all, I can imagine worse fates, one of which befell me. Suffice it to say that I wanted someone to Obliviate me after Anchorman was done playing. Honestly, I was doing my best to ignore that horrible movie. I was concentrating my best upon my book and even mouthing the words to myself in an effort to mentally drown out the horrifying spectacle (I even let my hair fall over my ears. It doesn't make much difference in the sound level, but, hey, every little bit helped). I don't know who in the world can consider something like Anchorman to be good entertainment, because it was seriously not funny. It was crude and vulgar and SHALLOW. It couldn't even take itself seriously. Hopefully, it was a parody, which makes its failings a little more understandable. However, that does not take away the serious and grave offense it gave me. Suffice it to say that in the hour-odd amount of time it was playing, I heard probably more cuss words than I have heard in my entire life. Call me sheltered, but I don't mind. NO ONE should have to have their brain bombarded by things like that. It insults everyone. I was very, very saddened by it (as well as irritated), and am now very disappointed in the Honors Program. We are supposed to be the HONORS PROGRAM! I'm not saying I expect everyone to be moral paragons. But a little common decency wouldn't kill anyone. LEAVE THE R-RATED MOVIES AT HOME!

That, combined with the X-Men movie (which at least had one or two genuinely funny moments and plenty of stuff blowing up to relive its mediocrity), I was ready to explode with frustration over the crudeness and the vile language. I am afraid Megan got a bit of that, poor girl. I had just heard one word too much and snapped. Of course, most people probably don't even consider what she said to be a cuss word anyways...

Anyway, we wandered around Chattanooga Friday afternoon. Heights don't bother me really, so the people bridge didn't bother me either. In our room we went to bed by 11 or so. I really don't see how some people can stay up all night, or at least try. What do they expect to get out of the next day when they are honestly dragging? I don't know. Anyway, we went to the aquarium, which was nice, although fish aren't really my thing. After all, "once you've seen one fish, you've seen them all." The sharks were more interesting, as well as the snakes and otters (I have odd tastes).

Then we went to the Hunter Museum of Art, situated strategically on top of a bluff. The center part of it was a handsome old neo-classical home with red brick, tall windows, and a two-story porch with tall white columns deliberately reminiscent of the White House (I read the sign, if no one else did). THAT part of the museum did not cause pain or confusion to look at. However, it had been inexplicably flanked by two shapeless gray buildings, the one on the left being the most flagrant offender. It looked like some ship from Star Wars, crossed with some superhero's underground hangar, and plastered over with steel and concrete. All it needed were little flags and guns or something we could have said it was a space battleship. Honestly, it was hideous, no matter if it resembled a Frank Lloyd Wright home (because my personal opinion is that his creations, no matter what he thought or people think, do NOT look like anything in nature; you just don't find straight lines like that in nature, and the end result is just... confusing. Yeah, confusing. Let's just leave it at that).

The courtyard in front of the museum was liberally strewn with 'sculptures'. One was a set of bent metal girders painted yellow. I dubbed them the French Fries and mocked them relentlessly. Another was a broze sculpture of a horse skeleton (honestly...) that was meant to and actually did look like it was made of wood. It was more tolerable. The sculptures of the people playing baseball were actually good, for once. There were several other pieces, including one of a naked person. I'd like to know why sculptures of naked people, especially sculptures of decapitated naked people, are considered great art. Besides my natural aversion, I also want to comment, "I think we all know what the human body looks like; can't you do something more original?"

Of course, people try all the time to be desperately original now, and they end up with the same-old, same-old. I think you have to forget trying to be original (because it is not a First Thing, to use C. S. Lewis's term), and just try to do something from your heart. After all, originality isn't what means the most in the end. Are not some of the greatest discoveries only possible because they are built upon the work of others? "Standing on the shoulders of giants", anyone?
Yep, that's me, going off on a philosophical tangent in response to the underlying Lebensschauung and Weltansschauung of the things I see.

Inside the museum itself, there were these twisted bronze structures hanging from the ceiling. I dubbed them the Bronze Pterodactyls, because there really wasn't anything else they looked like.

There was a travelling exhibit of photos by Dorothea Lange. I don't know. Her famous picture of the Migrant Mother just gets me irritated now, ever since I read a comment by that woman's daughter who said she didn't like that portrayal of her mother. She always remembered her mother as a happy person and didn't like seeing a negative (or at least not very flattering) portrayal of her everywhere. Then I wondered what right Dorothea Lange had to share the woman's anxiety with the whole world. Surely she asked before she took pictures. Even so, it seems kind of unethical...

There was also a traveling exhibit of movies. Somehow, you squash a few clips together and you create great art. I'm not sure how that comes about, but apparently it does... I didn't stay long on that floor.

On the ground floor was tons of modern art and more photographs. Some of the older paintings, the ones that were actually painted to resemble something, I liked. However, my relationship with modern art is antagonistic at best and I spent my time wandering through that section in a state of confused, gut-clenched, incredulous, horrified rebellion (rebellion against the rebellion against morality, in case you're wondering), with bonus iconoclastic tendencies. I think many of those 'priceless' pieces of art would make a very good bonfire.

Additionally, art has become so subjective nowadays. Everything is subjective now, you know?! The world doesn't work that way, however. Our subjectivism leads us to believe we can make our world in our own image, that reality conforms to what we think, and that we can shape our own truth. Well, let me tell you this: IT AIN'T GONNA WORK THAT WAY! The definition of truth is the conformity between what is thought and what is real. There is no way around it. Truth cannot change, because it is a person, Jesus Christ, and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. (John Martignoni) It is evil, it is pride, it is rebellion that says it will not bow to what is truth, surrender its own misconceptions, and release the burden of trying to be its own little god. Only therein can one find true freedom.

Actually, that brings something to mind. One of the descriptions next to a photograph said something very derogatory about freedom. The picture was of a 12-year-old girl, and the caption said the photographer considered pretty much that one only gained freedom when one grew up. Work out the implications yourself; I can't bring myself to type them. Nevetheless, you can understand that I was NOT HAPPY with it. When we got back on the bus, I was compelled to write, not my own definition of freedom (since freedom has an eternal, objective definition that resides in the mind of God, so it cannot be my definition), but my own discernment of the definition of freedom- i.e., what I have learned of freedom so far. Hey, I had to do something to take my attention away from being slightly squashed by Dillon...

Anyway, back to the art. A lot of the descriptions next to the paintings said stuff like, "What are your feelings about (insert topic here)?" If there's anything I hate, it's all the feeling-sharing stuff. Honestly, I might expect questions like that in a children's museum, but in an art museum, to which only 'sophisticated' grown-ups go voluntarily (indifferent school children are merely herded there and ushered quickly through the galleries before they destroy something)...? Really. Plus, most of the descriptions indicated that whoever wrote them actually took the paintings seriously. I can't see how. A sane person stands on the sidelines, looking up at a picture of meaningless scribbles and dabbles of paint, wrinkles his nose, and says, "What is it?"

Yup, my reaction in a nutshell.

I'm sorry, but splattering paint on a large canvas and then talking about your emotions you had while doing so is not art. Modern art is the visual equivalent of rap. Rap is not music. It is noise. Music and silence are from Heaven. Noise is from the other direction. True art is subcreation, the human soul trying to manifest things in the surrounding world in childlike imitation of the Creator Father. For more information about subcreation, see Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories". I really can't reproduce his excellent points here, but the point remains. True art is sacred. It is done in imitation of the Father. He created; we subcreate. THAT is what gives true art its beauty, its dignity, its poignancy, because it mirrors some particular aspect of God's Creation or of Himself. And that strikes a chord deep in our hearts, and we feel it, even though we might not be able to say what it is.

The same thing with music, really. Poetry is not glorified prose, and music is not glorified poetry. Poetry is spoken music, and prose is poetry made, well, prosaic. Fallen poetry, if you will. Deny the power of music all you can, but it's still there, objective, unaffected by your puny denials. Heaven is immanent in true music. In one of my Peter Kreeft books, he mentions he knew someone who was saved from being an atheist by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Even the Bible testifies to the power of music. Do you know this line? It's from the fourth verse of "Joyful, Joyful We Adore You," which is, incidentally, one of my favorite songs: "Mortals join the mighty chorus/ Which the morning stars began..." The morning stars are the angels, FYI (to borrow a favorite expression of Dr. Gren). And how do we know the world was not created in music? Narnia was. Go look it up; it's in The Magician's Nephew. And in Tolkien's legendarium, Arda was shaped by the Ainulindale, the Music of the Ainur.

Therefore, my position is that rap and modern art aren't just poor art. They are desecrations. I know that seems a little mean, but have you LOOKED at it? Pictures of random body parts and obscenties... how can you tell me it is not demonic? Most of the artists probably don't know what they're doing. They have the best of intentions. (They always do.) But some... gah! *crosses fingers in warding-off-evil position* It's like a Black Mass.

There's no kinder way to put it. Flame me all you like, I'm not going to budge. SOMEBODY has to say it.

Okay, I should probably stop ranting. Goodness knows, I've flambed modern art enough by now.

Rock City was nice, even if we ran through it a little fast. I really like Rock City. (Elaine was envious when she learned where I had gone, I think.) It was at least my third time there. I can't believe some people haven't been there before. It would have been really cool if we could have gone to Ruby Falls as well, but I know there's only so much you can do on one of these trips. Apparently, Rock City has recently embraced the gnomes and they are being used in advertising. There were little SEC gnomes in the giftshop, complete with little pointy hats and shirts displaying various team logos.

As for the Swinging Bridge.... haha... I sympathize with those of you who hated it, I really do. However, I am human enough to brag that it didn't bother me, and that I went across most of the way without holding on.

The ride back from Chattanooga was better. One of the X-Men movies was playing. I greatly prefer explosions over petty romances, so it agreed with me more. Even if I didn't know who in the world anyone was. My reactions: "Okay... Mr. Tumnus can read minds... so THAT'S where Gandalf got the helmet... Hey, was that Wolverine? Okay, that was funny... Argh, the bad guys all look alike! Which one is which?" Etc. Then we stopped at this really neat restaurant filled with sports stuff. There would have been no problems except it was FREEZING in there.

All in all, though, it was a great trip. You may have been fooled by my ranting. However, I seem to have the habit of sounding like I'm complaining when I think I'm actually just stating something (stating something probably negative, that is), so let me make that clear. I really enjoyed hanging out with the Honors People (I actually met a couple of people. Sigh... lots more to go. I saw some people and thought, "I didn't know they were in the Honors Program..."). Like I said, it was really great to go to the aquarium and Rock City. And I can endure art museums. Hey, plenty of perfectly normal things cause me to go into philosphical rants, so it's not like this is an unusual occurrence.

(Mom reminded me that it was a free trip so I should not be too negative. I'm not being negative about the trip! The trip was great. Anchorman was not, and modern art was... mind-boggling. There's a difference. I make distinctions between trip, Honors people, and objectionables! Public opinion, however, if public opinion does in fact read my pathetic little blog, usually does not make distinctions. So, to reiterate, the trip was great, and I can live with modern art, as long as it leaves me alone. It was Anchorman I really couldn't stand. MY EARS! MY EARS! But, anyway, thanks to Dr. Brewton and all that for taking us along.)

On a much more cheerful note, Dr. Gren had a bother of a time today with his PowerPoint. It had apparently decided to make his life miserable, culminating in turning his cursor into a highlighter and creating little bright yellow circles all across the slide. The class was in hysterics while he, to quote him, 'went frantic' trying to fix it. He said his second class never gets to benefit from watching him "go frantic up here trying to fix everything", then wondered if 'benefit' was the right word. A girl behind me suggested 'entertained'. Yup, let's go with that one... I will miss Dr. Gren so much. His lectures are so very entertaining. My life will be boring in the fall semester.

On a related note, I had probably better go and actually do my chemistry homework. Gah, I can't believe we are days away from the end of the semester. I am becoming rapidly apathetic about schoolwork and really don't want to study for my math exam tomorrow. (Bad me. Bad!) I really want to have an A in calculus so I don't have to take the final, though. Not worried about German, not worried about English, not terribly worried about chemistry... just calculus, and even there I'm not worried enough. There's a reason I refused to go on to Cal 3!


In Pace Christi,


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