I cant believe that I have written one hundred blog postings. Looking past on the ninty-nine postings that I have put on my Blog in the past months, I realize that, though the thoughts seems scattered and sometimes arbitrary, there is some sense of theme, at least in my mind. We are very near, I believe, a genuine crisis in our culture. Our aesthetic lives seem uncentered and floating as the economy floats into a self-made oblivion. I object to the colonization of every part of our lives by a mindless technocracy and have been working on these blogs wondering how we are to add aethetic wonder back into our world.
What would Dickens make of London today? Could it be 'his' London or only a facsimile? I have walked the streets of London dozens of times - down past Buckingham Palace and into Trafalgar Square - and it could never maintain an aura through the relentless drive of capitalist uniformity and the veil of gray painted by the era of Thatcherism. If the aura of an object or a work of art is the external emanation of a channel into an ideal universe (a utopia), then a world without these auras is no more than an alien force that, with a daunting spirit, dominates us. In the absence of conduits to utopia, our environment appears increasingly and hopelessly out of control. And the search for these conduits is a driving force behind creative desires. Perhaps in the face of a world out of control, the creative drive compels many to construct a utopia of their own. In 1958 the Italian architect Tomaso Buzzi (1900-1981) began work on a Utopian center intended to be a retreat for artists and actors. In the absence of auras, people like Tomaso are driven to create environments of total auras. Simon Rodia, a poor laborer, spent 33 years building the extraordinary Watts Towers. As an immigrant and itinerant worker, Rodia must have felt like an alien in a world almost impossible to control. But with little money and using mostly discarded 'junk,' Rodia built a fantasy world, a city of his very own.
What a wonderful need, to add color to a world painted gray. If you can't make the world you own, create your own world. If reality hangs around your neck like chains, create your own utopia out of the raw material around you. Consider the buses of Central America and the Philippines - brightly decorated with personal paraphernalia and wonderful colors. The world may be painted grey but the buses can be rainbows.
Must our strength be the strength of stones?
Some days my hope is gone, other days I can just about grasp genuine optimism.