RUDIMENTS, pt. 16
Fred Flintstone was wrong. I
found that out pretty early : you
see, round things are strong, they
resist pressure better. Round is a
more natural shape, Nature-like,
adaptable and streamlined. Much
better, and even more artistic, than
squares and right angles, which are a
bit reptilian and very linear in concept.
I never worked that way. BUT, if you
look back over history, in and of itself
a 'wheeled' vehicle is useless unless
you also have good roads and suitable
draft animals. You also need then a
workable horse collar, and the horse,
of course. And - here's the rub for
Fred Flintstone - you need a craft
tradition of specialized wheel-making.
You see, Fed was wrong: you can't make
a usable wheel from horizontal slices of
a log, because of the severe weakness
of the grain in that orientation.
Well, I'm not sure you'll understand
what I'm getting at, but it has to do with
what I saw - a unity of things, a striving
of all things together, in a great, big,
jam-packed city of wheels, pulleys, ropes,
chain, hoists, trucks, lifts, gates, conveyors,
and ramps. Let me not forget grease and oil.
Just like art supplies (brushes, thinners,
tubes, turpentine, linseed oil), these items
were everywhere around. Spanish guys
talking their tongue, Americans guys theirs.
Cigarettes and packing crates.
Everything seemed always on the move.
The essential differences against today's
work in the same places are probably more
just the people involved. There are still all
those categories of tool and manufacture -
though now faster, more powerful, sleeker
and far less primitive; but the people have
changed; my guys are all dead, for sure, and
they've been replaced by a different work
crowd than I'd ever seen : heave-ho short
laborers, way fewer white guys, rougher
talk, more brawn, tattoos - and of course,
on every break and lunch line, the ubiquitous
message phone, or whatever. Big, tough,
brawny guys, looking down and hunched
over some silly screen like a girl washerwoman
instead of the hunk-o-mass worker he pretends
at being. I'm going over the top on that one, but
someone has to; the world's been taken over
now by a fake-geeksterism distraction that
destroys people from the inside out, and is
mostly feminine anyway. So, screw all that.
Back in my day, such people would have been
churned up; not by me, because I wouldn't have
been there, but by the real dudes who were all
around me. Now it's just killer card-players.
Back then it was killers. Period. Break your
spine? I'll do yours, you do mine.
So, what's an artist anyway? Nowadays,
like all the stuff just described, wheels and
all, it's mostly technology. Technology has
invaded, somehow, the art world, and that
was never taught, or even thought about, back
then. The craze for all that began when minimal
artists and conceptual guys started working
out ways to use lighting and environmental
atmospherics to fill a room with trickery. It
was like, in the old days, the guy who first
advanced better technique - pallet knife or
whatever. The equivalent I can think of today,
from my own experience, are the car and
motorcycle custom-build show guys. It's
all pizazz and not much else; the
guy with the most money usually wins.
Hell, there's always someone who can
outspend you or the others on flashier
paint and graphics, chrome, or some sort
of almost useless horsepower build. To me
the 'art' of any of that was never the flash
and wonder. It was the nickel-down
sincerity of heart and soul in the painting
or the object. The hurt and the misgiving.
I'd take any dumb-ass '53 Desoto in its
old and faded, dark-green mono-paint,
just there drooping at the curb like an
old, jowly, dog, over any slick and fancy
re-done '90's muscle-car, or what was left
of muscle by the 80's, which wasn't much
at all. Hell, everything exhausts itself.