Jul 042013

There are, however, goods of a very different kind – gods who are quick and obliging, waiter-gods, “What can I do for you?” gods. In no time at all they create worlds to order, according to the fantasies in some bureaucratic decree or a resolution from some ministry. Their world is inhabited by paper ghosts, by painted figures of cardboard and wax. In is a world of veneers, of tin and papier-mâché. These soap-bubble worlds are always full of harmony and light; they are worlds that have a clear purpose, where everything seems reasonable. But in whose likeness – we must ask – have they been created?

The worlds that the gods of pen, brush, piano keys, and violin strings create in their own image and likeness – these worlds may be full of imperfections and folly. They may be half-baked, twisted, distorted, confused, dislocated, wretched, and even ridiculous. They may be imbued with the charm of the primitive and naive, with a comic profundity, with the pathos of a child’s toy, with a creator’s vain yet engaging admiration of the subtlety and beauty of his own creations, with the blindness of suffering, with senseless hope. Sometimes we find the tedious monotony of a single color, sometimes an absurd and chaotic motley.

But there is, surprisingly, more true realism in the craziest picture of the most abstract subjectivist, in the silliest concoction of lines, dots, and spots, than in all the harmonious worlds commissioned by bureaucrats. A strange, silly, crazy picture is, after all, a true expression of at least one living human soul. But whose living soul can we sense in this harmonious, officially sanctioned world so full of apparently naturalistic detail, so dense with ripe ears of wheat and fine forests of oak? Nobody’s – there is no soul in a government office. A government office is not alive.

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