Archive for April, 2009
I’m reading “You can go home again”, by Thomas Wolfe and there are some startling realizations that mirror our current situation in this country. It was written in 1938 and the story itself is set in 1929, October 1929. Some may know this as the month of the great stock crash that sent the country into a spiral that took decades to pull out of. The main character goes home after years away to find that his little hometown has been consumed by a greedy terror that we in 2009 can and should relate to all to well.
“…but he spoke at length about the town itself, telling her all that he had seen of its speculative madness, and how it had impressed him. What did the future hold for that place and its people? They were always talking of the better life that lay ahead of them and of the greater city they would build, but to George it seemed that in all such talk there was evidence of a strange and savage hunger that drove them on, and that there was desperate quality in it, as though what they really hungered for was ruin and death. It seemed to him that they were ruined, and that even when they laughed and shouted and smote each other on the back, the knowledge of their ruin was in them.
The had squandered fabulous sums in meaningless streets and bridges. They had torn down ancient buildings and erected new ones large enough to take care of a cithy of half a million people. They had leveled hills and bored thourgh mountains, making magnificent tunnels paved with double roadways and glittering with shining tiles-tunnels which leaped out on the other side into Arcadian wilderness. They had flung away the earnings of a lifetime, and mortgaged those of a generation to come. They had ruined their city, and in doing so had ruined themselves, their children and their children’s children.
Already the town had passed from their possession. They no longer owned it. It was mortgaged under a debt of fifty million dollars, owned by bonding companies in the North. The very streets they walked on had been sold beneath their feet. They signed their names to papers calling for the payment of fabulous sums, and resold their land the next day to other madmen who signed way their live with the same careless magnificence. On paper, their profits were enormous, but their “boom” was already over and they would neo see ti. They were staggering beneath obligations to pay which none of them could meet-and still they bought.”
That is a huge quote, but for the sake of proper context it was necessary. I get the same sense of awe and horror from this book as I get from a Denis Leary show. It’s funny, and terrifying because it’s true. That aside, this is a wonderful book, written in a manner that escapes us nowadays. It uses real language. It doesn’t read like a e-mail or a text message, no “U” or “R”‘s or any other abbreviation or clipped dialogue. That shit is becoming to accepted. Pretty soon we will be speaking “newspeak”. George Orwell’s “1984“, has come a little late, but nevertheless seems to be here. Let’s try not to strip all the soul and beauty from our lives. Time is afforded to developing characters and because of that we care about them and wonder what will happen next. We can follow their accomplishments and failures know that even when things are bad, their still people and hopelessly flawed. Even with this, they (we) generally pull ourselves up. This makes me feel better about my own flaws, too even celebrate them.
Something to stew on.
God damn it’s wet! Just getting over my spring head cold, so I feel like I’m drowning anyway, then top it off with torrential downpours daily.
I’ve been thinking about how to charge for design and artwork. It’s a hard thing to do. There are the hard costs of producing whatever it is, paper, computer software, paint, pencils, printing, on and on… Then there is the time. Which is easy, just assign a number to it and go. But then there is the big one, the granddaddy bugaboo of the art world, especially fine art, creativity. How the hell do you put a price on inspiration? Artist deal in ideals and not so tangible things, things that a young artist with no world weariness can quantify. I feel I’ve come to a good equilibrium on this subject, and it amazingly simple. Quantify it. Do it even though it doesn’t feel right. Put a number on it. A number per hour. Gather together your cost of goods, your time (those all have numbers associated with them) and add them together. Then for every unit of time you charge, charge the equal time in creativity. Charge whatever you for this, but stick to the formula. Your time could be worth $75, but your creativity could be worth $150. No matter what stick to the formula, then your not left fumbling for an explanation when some non-artist number cruncher asks how you came to $1200.0 for a 12″x12″ painting of lone tree that grows old boots, you can whip out your tally sheet and show him.