Here is a complicated pruntiform, written back in June of 2007.
If I learned anything in Art Hum., it's that whenever you have three
people together in a scene you have to figure out which one is Jesus.
Learned responses manifest in different ways at different times, and this Jesus business requires more than a subliminal response.
Anything can represent anything - yeah yeah yeah - the point is, what does this represent to you right here and now?
In some cases, you can be a critic, and guide the young grasshoppers and socio-political climbers as to what they ought to suggest it means to them right here and now.
Art is difficult in a number of ways.
(Hum., for "Humanities", was supposed to delineate exactly which of the ways in which Art is difficult we were supposed to overcome in that class - some might say we were learning to be rich white people in one semester, although in reality that takes natural talent or a lot of independent study.)
It's a shame sometimes how the symbolic ends up seeming more important - there was a monkey wrench in the thing you meant: the thing you meant to mean, the thing I heard, the thing I want to hear, and the thing everybody remembers later after getting all in our business.
That is part of the reason Art is difficult in multiple ways.
Whenever I think I have figured something out, I figure something else out about how it is wrong or impossible to believe I have figured something out.
You might not have that problem, or, more likely, just don't think that you do.
(Have patience, even though things will never be any different, that is the best you can hope for, to feel patient about it.)
Three is as many different things as there are ways Art is difficult.
People are even more complicated, once symbolic-ness is on the table - gender? race? class? era? style? actual people? corroborating historical evidence? Together, all of these things might just be PhD theses that have already been written - but weren't we talking about people? Aren't people more important than a thesis?
In fact, one can legitimately ask why we waste our time on this stuff at all when people are suffering and dying.
A sad related thought: if we all immediately dropped what we were doing and ran to help the suffering and dying, things would probably be much worse for them (I have little faith in the efficiency of man's humanity to man).
Scene: cooks in the kitchen - too many! The soup is ruined! Thousands starve and die! A news report is not broadcast - there is no news and no audience.
You challenge - "Does that mean I should do nothing?" and the answer is “No, stupid.”
(Have patience with me, even though I will change my mind every day until I die, that is the best either of us can hope for, to feel patient about it. Things will never be perfected in the future, and I hope mankind never again believes they can be.)
To sum up:
Figure one, figure two, figure three, all in the same scene.
Out of frame, looking in, is you, or some other audience surrogate.
Which of them is important? The other two have 50/50 chances of salvation, and cancel each other out (if you go by what it says in the Christian Bible and also pretend there are still only three in the scene).
One of the three people in any scene with three people pretty much has to be identified as Jesus by some theorist or critic at some point, regardless of what the artist was thinking (even the artist can't rule out that he was thinking of it subconsciously - ha)
Is there really any need to get so complicated about this picture?
Jesus is always the one in the middle.
Is it TRUE?
Is it KIND? (optional)
Is it NECESSARY?
Commentary from the proprietor:
Anyone reading this who received a Christian education or went to Sunday School in the United States has probably been told that before you say anything, your words should pass through three gates: "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" This "three gates" thing is not especially useful or interesting to me as a basis for deciding what to say, primarily because if I did believe it I would reproach myself constantly for continuous failure, particularly where "necessary" is concerned. Constant self-reproach would be unpleasant and unhealthy. For art, however, the three gates make an excellent pre-art or pre-distribution checklist.
Truth is a difficult issue. Although I personally reject the notion that truth is what you can get away with, it is a powerful and well-supported assertion - many people appear convinced by it and are acting accordingly. And, while Truth may sometimes be obscene, it is impossible ever to be certain that you know it when you see it, nor to be certain that anyone else is seeing the same thing you are. Generally, people just decide what they believe, then assume it is true and go from there. People have been doing that for a long time, suffering the occasional strife that can result.
Kindness is optional, and not a very interesting subject for commentary. I personally prefer to focus on politeness and mutual respect with people generally, and on love for loved ones. Lately, I have been thinking that worrying about Kindness has in fact prevented me from using my talents fully. It is its own kind of sinful pride sometimes.
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