Just a bleak update…

Hudson Station, 2013I haven’t updated in a while.  My apologies.  Not much happening here in New York to report, really.  Not much I am too enthusiastic about here in the US, actually.  I visited New York City twice and although my motives were sound I was very disappointed by what has happened to humanity.  There are far too many people there and no one seems to be happy.  They are always on their mobile phones or some other application, as if these things will make them happy or even connect them to other human beings in some meaningful way.  They haven’t understood that by using the internet to connect with others they are merely closing themselves off to the realities of actual one-to-one contact.  This is the great myth of the electronic information age.   Online reality is fiction.  Also, the more I have been talking to other teachers and mentors about the kids of today the more we all agree:  few of them actually want to work towards a goal that requires effort or any real thinking.  They want the end result right now.  They want their hand-held devices to do the thinking for them.  The turn their cameras on ‘auto’ and let the machine create, not their minds.   They demand good grades just for showing up.

This was evident at the Museum of Modern Art yesterday.  I rode the train into the city to see a wonderful show by the photographer Walker Evans.  It is the 75th Anniversary of his exhibit of American Photographs.  First off….MoMA is a terrible museum.  It didn’t feel like a museum.  It felt more like a large shopping mall.  It was crowded and noisy.  People were stuck to their handheld devices as they wandered lost an unseeing through the many chilly rooms.  They impolitely took pictures of the work, not really looking or learning, but rather documenting in a poor fashion.  They talked loudly into their mobiles.  Children screeched, ran around.  I was appalled.  90% of the people there were only present so they could check MoMA off their NYC list.

The Walker Evans show was in a small room on the 4th Floor, not in the photography section.  It was shoehorned between the crass, colorful and superficial 1960s pop-art section and the large abstract works of Arshile Gorky.  These photographs are small, none larger than 8×10, and perfect.  Precious.  Lovely.  Evocative.  “American” in the best sense of the word.  Yet people were wandering in and out, disinterested and not comprehending the importance of these images, especially when compared to the emptiness of Warhol, Stella and Lichtenstein.   I left the museum after 45 minutes, disgusted.  Humanity is doomed.  We have already forgotten our history.  But MoMA has succeeded.  It is a perfect modern art museum.  It represents all that sucks about modern art and modern culture.  It is about fashion, fads and the next shocking big pile of expensive, market driven shit.  It is superficial and dead, cold and, in the end, not worth the real estate it sits on.  It is about the $25 adult ticket fare and the gift shop.  It is about money.  If you worship money, please go.  If you, like me, have grown so disillusioned by the cesspool that the US in many ways has become, then skip it.   It is a train wreck of culture.  Nothing to see here.  Move along folks.


wire and wood

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5 Responses to Just a bleak update…

  1. Jun July 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    What about Christina’s World? Did you get a chance to see it?

  2. John July 25, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Sorry Jun. I did not….I was so disillusioned by the MoMA experience that I fled the building. Next time…

  3. Caroline August 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    John, I’m sorry to hear that you felt so awash in New York, but hopefully it reaffirmed that you have chosen the right lifestyle for yourself in Greece. May your journey to the US fill you with purpose so that you live well and beautifully back on Paros! Sadly, that art museum experience doesn’t just happen in America; I had a similar experience at the Louvre. I think seeing important art, and putting up a snap of it on your facebook page, has become a sort of status symbol, something that is supposed to denote sophistication and intellectualism. Kind of like listing The Great Gatsby as your favorite book.

    I’ve been feeling really jaded in Newport, too. Sometimes I feel completely invisible here, because I can’t find people who like and appreciate the same things I do, and therefore don’t like or appreciate me. So yesterday, instead of going to a busy beach with friends, I took off into the woods of Jamestown and climbed down a cliff into a tiny cove with the most incredible beach, and had it to myself for most of the day! Meanwhile, on the other side of the point where the town beach is, there were probably 2000 people, but none of them know about the secret beach. (actually one of the sites where Moonrise Kingdom was filmed, where the kids built a fort). My idea of a good beach is one that you have to work at to get to. In museum going and beach going, I think most americans just don’t want to have to work hard to enjoy it. We work too hard during the week and so in our leisure time, we want instant gratification.

  4. Tarky7 April 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Absolutely brilliant review of the current state of Amerikan Kulture! I especially love your final lines:

    “It is about money. If you worship money, please go. If you, like me, have grown so disillusioned by the cesspool that the US in many ways has become, then skip it. It is a train wreck of culture. Nothing to see here. Move along folks.”

    I still live and work in the US, and doing the best that I can to stay sane in the face of these changing tides. A ping-back from your site came across my bow, and I had to investigate, as security for all my clients (past + present) is very important to me.

    Funny thing, reading this post really struck a chord in me this morning. I have decide to take the day of from my crazy busy schedule and go visit a friend who is doing maple sugaring today, as the sap is running up here in the mountains of Vermont. I am very grateful for so many things in my life today.


    Namaste, John!

  5. John April 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    Thanks Kit. Have an excellent day sugaring.