Some days ago I received one of those funny-chain-letters with another "pearl" from home. It was the above photo of a fresco in a village church in Serbia. The man represented on the fresco made his fortune by selling parts for Skoda cars. He financed the complete restoration of the church for which he got a portrait on its wall with his two wives and children, obviously, along with a ticket to a safe journey into Heaven.
At first, I laughed, of course.
Then I thought that probably the only thing that could be despised is bad painting. For, there is no essential difference between this man and for example, Renaissance patrons. What substantially distinct one from the other are the painters they chose. The man's act, however, is one of a long tradition (as long as our Western civilization) of fighting immortality by keeping one's name in the (collective) memory. Unlike Barthes, who maintains that the author, or the insistence on the individual genius (but also, the prioritization of the Individual, in general) is a product of the period usually widely covered by the name of the Humanism and Renaissance, I tend to think that its root can be found much earlier. It is expressed in Achilles' choice of the name over a long life. Not only that the period that followed the Middle Ages was a grand revitalization of the classical heritage, therefore, a re-adoption of the classical aesthetics and notions, but, in my opinion, its philosophical and moral findings have never stopped being the pillars of our modern era. One of them is the notion of the name that carries on existing beyond one's death, thus prolonging the life, and embedding the transient into a concrete and enduring. In order to remain "alive" even the life itself becomes worth sacrificing. If one does not have a name – a denominator for one's works and days, it is almost as if one never existed… If we try and remove external layers, deeper beneath, we might find a desire to communicate, to address this world, by being heard and seen, to stay in this world.
While riding on the train and thinking these thoughts, I see a title in somebody's book that curiously prolongs my thought: Earthen cup is a solidification of perspective. … Our bodies are solidifications of our minds… Worringer comes to mind. Abstraction has no perspective, no spatiality, the body is absent, therefore, it addresses "the life-renouncing, inorganic" – the transcendental. The art of "empathy" is all turned to this world and its "organic beauty". So is our civilization, Western civilization. Thus we sense ourselves. Thus we communicate among ourselves. Once we have drunk from the earthen cup, we can start our nomadic lives, through which we travel to the reader. Surely the author is not and should not impose himself as a God with the ultimate message. However, if his "message" is completely depersonalized, and "his hand, detached from any voice, borne by a pure gesture of inscription", I'm afraid the author wont reach the reader… for, this reader has also been shaped through this organic sensibility, and he expects to be addressed by an organic form. …Whether this is a vicious or only the earthen circle, I'm not quite sure. Yet again, what Barthes says about Greek tragedy may be the finest example of the personal organically woven within the formally pure, as well as of the ever-existing Reader without the necessity of being ransomed by the Author's death.