Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"is that all there is.." or, "the walrus was paul"

among many pictures on my brothers wall were these four photos ranged across the blank space above his closet. they appeared to me like a buddhist shrine or the four apostles, devotional icons as holy and sacrosanct as any to be found on the walls of the faithful. in truth, they were four 8 X 10 glossy photos that came with the purchase of the beatles white album in 1968.

in the canon of beatles lore, these were quite prodigious photos, depicting the group at perhaps its very height of personal creativity and individualism, wholy free of marketization (the album completely lacked anything that could be called a top-40 hit) and completely free of any kind of discernable cover art or graphics (upon close inspection, a greyed out epigraph can be seen; simply, the beatles).

what's not immediatlely apparent in these photos, at least not to the casual observer, is the process or journey that led to these images, these four apostles, gruff, bespectacled, saintly and forelorn. perhaps more shocking, again, not to the casual observer, are the two compliation albums issued posthumously; the first covering the early years, the beatlemania years, the second covering the beatles in their later years, more individual, more circumspect:

i would hazard to guess in today's climate which contemporary photo would proffer the same feelings of devotion and, dare i say, "awe." the speed of communication, the proliferance of social networks and even perhaps the extreme degree of resolution in today's digital cameras has all together rendered the notion of reverence obsolete. we don't worhip our so-called heroes today, not riddled with cellulite and acne, twitter accounts and insets in people magazine. but for a few select communities in kansas and the outskirts of el dorado texas, nor, for better or worse, do we worship our sacred icons of religion. but, in the midst of this digital revolution, in the thick of our self-mocking, irreverent posts on facebook and the like...something is missing.

i miss the speaking-in-tongues, the cat-calls and glory-be-to-god(s), i miss the medium (not so much the message), the reverent icons of the faitful that woody allen laid out so carelessly in hannah and her three sisters (i don't miss wonderbread). to be honest, i don't know exactly what it is that i want, but i know what i don't want; i don't care very much what you had for lunch or dinner, i don't care very much which degenerate volume of manga you just purchased online on amazon and i dont care very much what you like (if what you like is the choice of beverage your friends are now, at this very instant, imbibing).

seriously, is this what our fathers fought for? all those crusading armies, those passionate blue-faced acolytes of william wallace, those (not so much anymore) reverent founding brothers who melded the great philosophies of the western canon into what was once considered to be the greatest country on earth..? is that all there is? the diaryfiction, the "journal"lization of our once great writers and press? where are our walrues today? where be their gibes, their gambols? i ask that all there is?

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