Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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Roll over John Ruskin, or the Unimportance of being Cool

I slept too much today. I still have a bit of work to do tonight. I saw some decent television, and read a fair bit of Ruth Brandon's Surreal Lives. I love surrealist art, but those are not encouraging lives--so much vision, but so many featherheaded, dangerous and disappointing wrong turns. I read a nice post which asphalteden wrote about how fans of "really cool" music become so entrenched in their ways that they essentially create a new "orthodoxy" which kills everything in its wake, including style evolution by beloved artists. I've seen this happen over and over. Music or art or literature becomes This Week's Thing, a way to become "cool" without being named to the Homecoming Court, just another suburban post-teen way to exclude others.
I love small label music, but not as a way to be cooler than anyone. It's interesting to me that the surrealists, Breton in particular, sound like the disaffected inhabitants of my college rather than true pioneers. The ideas are the Art, and the people merely Vessels, and sometimes tupperware at that. Still, to have been a vessel which invented surrealism!

I was getting down this afternoon, what with oversleep, and getting so little done on my work and my nervousness scrapbooks (I did almost finish the first one), my failed mixing experiment Friday (wife cheered me up with a classic quote--"what's the POINT of making bad music if the MIXING has to be GOOD?"), and the general malaise I've felt as I rest up from a stressful and busy week. I hate being depressed. I am not as cool when I am depressed as surrealists were--I'm not really properly pithy at all when I'm down.

Then things looked up. We went to a great hole in the wall, dirt cheap, LA worthy Chinese place, that the folks at my wife's favorite coffee shop, Java and Chai, recommended (I don't drink coffee, so I miss the hot cafe tips). The menu was pretty ordinary Hunan and fast food Cantonese, but these preparation was exquisitely good. Then I got out the mower. This mower, which my brother was kind enough to all but give to me when we first got to Texas (in CA, our neighborhood had a lawn care 'team' who mowed everyone's lawns for less the price of mower maintenance each week--they were so cool, even dead heading roses and the like within the basic price), is on its last gasps. Its handle buckles, the literal rabbit and literal turtle on the throttle no longer connect to the engine, and the pull start does not recoil correctly. I look like a man using a walker as I mow with it. Still, half an hour cutting our lawn put me in an ecstatic mood. I can DO this, I can DO this, and the yard looks mowed.

I do not really buy the John Ruskin/Gandhi notion that we should all be doing simple farming instead of our modern life. I think we need a world with anti-biotics and other technological advances if we are to make our world contented, free and equal. But when I mow the grass, I feel like some haywarden in a poem, who finds his contentment in the sound of the scythe.

Flash: flocks of birds are migrating, heading south. Warning: summer's end approaches! School starts in Allen tomorrow.

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