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What do I mean by Culture?
I mean a society’s pursuit, desire, and support for a high level of creative expression in all arenas of society. What I don’t mean is an exclusionary or elite culture that feels itself to be superior or better than another one.
Why do I believe this high level of culture means less anger and violence? Because a high culture is one a society is proud of and invested in. That means they don’t want it destroyed. They don’t want it diminished. They don’t want it to disappear. They have created something that brings joy, interest, wonder, humor, fun, discovery. Something that makes one think and allows for a thinking response. They learn and grow from it. In other words, they love it.
I do not believe we, as an overall society, have a culture like that at this time.
Well, it’s like the very true variation on the old quote. “Grass is always greener…where you water it.” The truth is we ourselves are responsible for the cultural grass being dry and dead. How so?
- We contribute to it by not buying real art from real artists.
- We contribute to it when we are more interested in judging creative expression than we are in understanding it.
- We contribute to it by not speaking up when ugly buildings are built and when streets are filled with chain store after chain restaurant.
- We contribute to it by not caring or being involved in city and town planning.
- We contribute to it when we agree to the cutting of arts budgets from public schools.
- We contribute to it by watching violence and mayhem as entertainment again and again and again.
- We contribute to it by decrying any use of public funds for creative endeavors.
- We contribute to it by not reading.
- We contribute to it by not being interested in other cultures.
In other words, to use a variation on another famous quote, “For culture to disappear, all it takes is for good people to do nothing.”
Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Quote by Johanne Wolfgang Von Goethe, 1749 – 1832, German writer
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe In The Country – by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein
I watched a TV segment about Edward Albee recently. He is the Pulitzer Prize winning playright whose most famous work is ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’. The interviewer was asking him if he considered that the subject matter would be offensive to some. His response was, yes he knew it might be but that the play was telling him what needed to be in it, not people who may or may not be offended by it.
Art Creating Itself
That is how it is with me as well. My imagination starts somewhere and then once I put pen to paper the images tells me where to go and what to do. It tells me what it wants to be. The more I listen to that the better the work. The more I listen to a possible future offended person the more I will create something self-censored, something that looks like someone else’s work, not my own.
That is why I often draw nudes. The content and message in the depiction of a nude says something I want to say. Clothing the person would take that element of the idea away and if I bow to that pressure I am diminishing my power as an artist to create something expressive and valuable. If someone is offended or interprets the work in ways I don’t anticipate that is ok, I even like hearing about that and learning from it. But I can’t try to extrapolate what that might be in advance just to save someone somewhere a possible hard thought or offensive reaction.
You Creating Yourself
So it is with creating your whole self as well as a work of art. Chisel and hammer out who you want to be, not who you would be if you offended no one. Because if you turn yourself into who someone else wants you to be, you become hard to know, admire and love. The world ends up seeing a watered down you, diluted with someone else’s ideas of who you should be instead of the full flavored you. And you’ll end up offending someone anyway.
Drawing and Commentary by Marty Coleman, who is who he is.
Quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, 1749-1832, German playright and poet, among other things.
Trivia Question from yesterday answered
Question: Which U.S. President sewed his own clothes as well as some of his wife’s?
Answer: Andrew Johnson. The 17th President was trained and employed as a tailor early in his life and never gave up the practice.
A vintage napkin from 2002. I drew two versions of this and put them in my daughters’ lunches to take to High School.
If you have a lover or friend that tries to dominate and calls it love, don’t believe them. They are confusing control for love and it’s dangerous.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily
Quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, German writer
The only thing I would add to this quote is to put a ‘yet’ at the end of it. I believe all is fathomable, just not yet, and maybe not even by us humans. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation.
In the meanwhile it is perfectly fine, and not against any belief in science and it’s ability to discover truth, to say we don’t understand something, that we sit in awe of the complexity of life, earth, the universe, emotions, feelings, death and much more.
I am happy knowing I am living in an era when searching for explanations, wherever they may lead, will not get me burnt at the stake or hung from a gallows for heresy. I am very glad for that.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman
“A thinking person’s greatest happiness is to have fathomed what can be fathomed and to rever in slience what cannot be fathomed.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, 1749-1832, German author, poet and scientist
So, as you look at this quote do you know what you think? 🙂
I like this quote, by the way. I know in my life it is true. Knowing is most
interesting when you are taking action or teaching or creating. Thinking is most
interesting while doing those things plus most any other situation. But looking,
looking (or seeing) is collecting, it’s thinking, it’s knowing, it’s exploring, it’s
losing yourself in something and finding more about yourself as a result. I love
This would seem to run counter to the idea that imagination is always a good thing. I would have to agree with the napkin, it can be pretty atrocious looking to see the results of someone with a fervent imagination but who is very tacky. Just think of anyone who has a Thomas Kincade print or painting for example. They probably think they are being creative and imaginative in picking the image and hanging it among the precious moment trinkets, right? But they would be wrong. So, let’s all promote good taste today, ok? Let’s start a movement!
Explain this one to me. I mean all of you, pipe in, tell me what you think it means. I liked it when I set it on paper, but I haven’t quite ever understood it to my satisfaction.
For ‘Love Day’ I found a quote that distills it all down to the basics. What are your basics of love?