Most of what I see is garbage

art-contemporary-photography

I hardly ever go to exhibitions and dislike the world of the vernissage; those crowds are the most repulsive of all. These days most art is too conceptual for me, with long descriptions pasted up on the walls of galleries. “Art” should reveal itself to audiences without written explanation. Most of what I see is garbage, sometimes literally so, like an installation with a few cardboard boxes thrown into a corner, an empty beer can and a dirty sleeping bag. This apparently represents the desperate fate of the homeless. I see an absence of dignity in contemporary art. There is too much emphasis on concept, not craft. Just as religion has been watered down by television evangelists, so has art.

~ Paul Cronin, Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin


Credits: Photograph by Burt Glinn 1964 NYC. Ad Reinhardt painting at the Museum of Modern Art. Source: Magnum Photos via To Escape from the Commonplaces of Existence.

 

Humility is scarce and mediocrity flows from every direction

Bil_Zelman_Werner_Herzog

Q: Do you still not own a cellphone?

Herzog: I’m the only thinking person I know without one. I don’t want to be available at all times. Permanent connectivity isn’t my thing; I have always needed moments of quiet solitude for myself. There’s a Chinese poem from the Tang dynasty about someone describing a boat journey along the Yellow River and leaving his friend behind, a monk on a mountain, in the knowledge that they probably won’t see each other or have any contact for years. This man’s return, decades later, has an indescribable substance and depth. Compare this to standing in line at the airport, chatting on your cellphone to your loved one, who is waiting in the car park. There is too much shallow contact in our lives. I prefer to be face to face; I want the person I’m communicating with to be so close I can put my hand on their shoulder. Text messaging is the bastard child handed to us by the absence of reading.

Q: You use the Internet. [Read more…]

A Guide For the Perplexed

a guide for the perplexed

I’ve been chewing through a new book titled “Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin.” Werner, 72, is an award winning German film director, producer and screen writer for Fitzcarraldo, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Woyzeck and Where the Green Ants Dream.

Why choose this book out of the thousands available to you?

No idea. Hard to explain why I was drawn to this. I do recall my finger hovering over the “BUY NOW” button on Amazon and wondering if this will be yet another abandoned, start-but-not-come-close-to-finishing e-book, in my groaning stack of Incompletes weighing on my consciousness.

Why a book by a film director? Do you have interest in film production?

None.

Why this book then? A dense 600-pager with footnotes?

Pay attention. Refer back to question 1. (No idea). In hindsight, I do think that perhaps I was attracted by the potential of finding my community, a brotherhood in “A Guide for the Perplexed” and possibly finding my way out. And I heard a bell – – far softer than a Siren, gentler than a Clarion Call, a chime of sorts from William Stafford: “Listen—something else hovers out here, not color, not outlines or depth when air relieves distance by hazing far mountains, but some total feeling or other world almost coming forward, like when a bell sounds and then leaves the whole countryside waiting.”

So, what do you think of the book? [Read more…]

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