It wasn’t originally going to be a rant…

Why did I wait two weeks!? I now look at my scribbled notes trying to decipher key notions of the class to build upon and one after the other they seem to evade me. I may be exaggerating a little, but there is some truth to my panicked introduction.

Thomas Mann’s essay was a bit challenging for me. I have trouble drawing clear conclusions from it. On the other hand I thought the two stories about women told from a man and also a woman’s perspective were incredibly interesting. 

Both resided for the most part within the women’s heads, providing the reader with perceptual insights of their thoughts rather than matter of fact development of events. In this approach transpires similar foundations to the ones which seem to have given birth to impressionism at the time. 

However the second a person decides to value “their” vision of the world over ideological, symbolic myths that have been resorted to over the past centuries to express oneself; the moment a painter like Courbet decides to allow their view of the world receive equal attention to existing myths, two of many more things happen.

The obvious result would be to expect reprimands, rejection from others, from the academia perhaps. Nonetheless, the greatest schism must be within oneself. From what I have looked at online, the philosophical concept of existentialism first appeared around that time period, the early mid 1800’s in the writings of Soren Kierkegaard. With it come the overwhelming ideas of the absurdity of life, the challenging of ethics…

I often feel cut short with my education, I wish I could have gone to a “proper” college to get a decent background in philosophy… And as much as I try to read on my own, I regularly lose momentum. The silver lining is my nearly “free” and naive understanding of broad notions such as realism.

I find the concepts of realism which pushed Courbet (following intentions roughly initiated by Millet) to take nature and his reading of nature as his only master. Could it be said that there is no one reality? That the world was designed to have many lives, to live in the minds and hearts, eyes and fingertips, of those sensing it, perceiving it? To me, realism says beauty is in the purity and authenticity (another key notion of existentialism apparently) of the honest; honest eye, honest man, honest woman. I often feel the way I am trained as a product designer at Art Center is a direct re-enactment of that time period. A time where canons of proportion for what “the world needs” and “in what form the world needs it” are unforgivingly hammered into our minds. Outside of this arena however, there seem to be endless patches of blue sky, of room for hope, of design that cares, of design that sees, of honest, ernest, communication. Then I wonder, why is that so? Why would there be so much blue sky outside of here? Is it L.A.’s pollution seeping through into the walls of Art Center’s product program, blinding it, suffocating it? Or is it simply easier and easily simpler to teach, and identify oneself as belonging to a given doctrine so long as it does not change too much?

I believe there is great value in standardization and templates and doctrines, but more often than not, they are abused by… by lazy people, scared people, afraid of challenging their beliefs, afraid of surpassing the point of “The Cry” day, after day.


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