April 19, 2015

The City Life has Ended

Last Sunday was a sunny 77° for the first time this year, so Stephanie and I took the D Train to Coney Island to see where the city ended.

We found this wonderful duo playing on the boardwalk, A Flying Dodo Society. Life is a little richer now.
(More on the band here.)

Update: A few thoughts have cropped up overnight, more under the fold:

From the Brooklyn Eagle article at the link, we have an articulation of the band's philosophy:

As for their name, A Flying Dodo Society, they reassured that it was not merely random, but rather thoughtfully planned out.
"So the Dodo was a bird that lived in a very comfortable situation -- in this paradise where they had no predators and they just ate fruit that fell from the trees, which made it so they did not need their wings," Ausbury said. "When the humans got there, they had no way of preparing themselves for anything.

"I see humans that way, where it's a pretty dangerous situation to not have to struggle to survive. So I see the human race pretty much as a Dodo -- and we have this story where someday the Dodos will come back flying and will avenge what we did to them back in the 1600s."

And from Federico Ausbury's Facebook's page, he provides this quotation:

"I thought of the long ages of the past during which the successive generations of these things of beauty had run their course. Year by year being born and living and dying amid these dark gloomy woods with no intelligent eye to gaze upon their loveliness, to all appearances such a wanton waste of beauty. It seems sad that on the one hand such exquisite creatures should live out their lives and exhibit their charms only in these wild inhospitable regions. This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man, many of them have no relation to him, their happiness and enjoyment's, their loves and hates, their struggles for existence, their vigorous life and early death, would seem to be immediately related to their own well-being and perpetuation alone"
Alfred Wallace

Is he a declinist? Does he really think that humanity deserves punishment for its sins? There have lived some saints and martyrs who found ecstasy in their pain, and perhaps more so when it is encouraged to be witnessed by others. Self flagellation has a curious attraction after all. Or is he consciously employing artifice in the service of an argument and the marshaling of exotic philosophical instruments for creative ends?

If it's the former, that humanity must be made to atone, where does it end? For example, I'm listening to an audiobook by Scott Weidensaul, The First Frontier, a history of American aboriginal "indians" for the 15,000 years before European colinization. At the dawn of their civilization, they entered a continent chock full of large mammals, megafauna. While there is some controversy about whether the cause of extinction was natural or that humans simply hunted them to death (and they also altered the landscape by an extensive use of fire), plenty of evidence gives strength to the former cause.

It's curious that a utopian would entertain and even encourage the destruction of the human race. Believing in the need for the end of humanity is functionally equivalent to nihilism, believing in nothing is so adjacent to suicide as to beg identity. But they made good, wonderful music from this, of this I have no doubt. Is there a necessary connection between art and nihilism? Is this the foul wind that fills our sail?

There are two kinds of sails, one that cups the wind and follows course in its prevailing direction. Another acts kind of like an airfoil, cutting into the wind a such a tailored angle so that air passes past each side at different speeds, resulting in different pressures, which in turn results in a propulsive force.

Likewise, there is a way to sail into the foul winds that is this analogy to the romance our art world has with transgression and the darkness of nihilism. By carefully steering into it, you can generate a positive propulsion that might snatch a flower from the stink of despair and degradation.

So the question to be applied to all artists is, are you sailing into the wind or are you being simply and sadly carried to what ever direction it goes?

(After all of this musing, I have to repeat: A Flying Dodo Society is is both charming and brilliant, a real delight. They inspire me.)

Update: An interesting article about extinction here.

Posted by Dennis at April 19, 2015 6:28 PM

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