Open Talks

Classic meets urban myth

I am a firm believer in language. And roots. Rooted language. And I’ve been wondering lately about the word “classic” that in my opinion, is one of the words most under attack today. There’s  a real prejudice against “classic” {read: old, boring} as opposed to “modern’ (read: real, normal}. But –  if you care to look it up,  you’ll (suprisingly) read: “Classic – judged over a period of time to be outstanding of its kind.” You’ll also see that its root is the word class as in classy, high-class, etc. Does all that change anything? As goes for food, no. It’s the same old fancy way to say something’s been around for a while. But as much as I love to cook, I was thinking about artsy classics. And as goes for Art (serious, with no diminuatives this time) I firmly believe, it changes everything.

{Note: I’ll be referring more to the former def. than the latter, though it seems everyone is concentrated -and prejudiced- around the classy part of Art. But today, I really feel like talking  about the outstanding part.}

So, I’ve comprised a few points, like astericks to the dictionary definition of the word, to break some of those prejudices which I’ve met countless times.

And here is my asterick #1 :

  • Once you’ve read that definition black on white, you’re standing before a printed commandment.  You’ve got two choices like always – to agree or to flee. So, take a moment and get ready to answer the question why you aren’t eagerly sorting through all the outstanding luggage  accumulated by humanity over the whole course of its existence. Or disagree and say that it’s all a lie. It’s like faith. You can’t stand in the somewhere-nowhere-safeland for years. You’ll just waste away and get stuck in no man’s land.

So, let’s see, classic…Something that somehow, over many centuries has been  deemed worthy to be passed on so that today it would end up before me. I can surely doubt : who were those people that judged it so? And why did they choose some things and not others? Did they choose the very best, and in matters of art, how do you know what’s the best? Many, many questions arise.

But here comes asterick # 2 in support of classic Art:

  • I was just thinking: why don’t our stores sell 16th, 17th and 18th century fashions (things which were at the time much more popular than literature) but they do sell books from all those times and much earlier? There must be something there. And for once, it’s not about the market. If they were so popular, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Actually, go up to any book store and ask for  a certain book written 2000 years ago. You’ll find it right away. We can surely say that the Book of Books has set the example for being outstanding, and it’s not surprising that Time itself is one of the judeges whom we should  be attentive to. After all, one great person did believe that the Spirit of God is Time (capitalized!)  It also proves that it’s not completely a human affair. Because were it so, we’d rather pass on dresses and hairstyles than Art.   

Contemporary books, music, fashion, etc. all reflect our pinned-to- year values. Tomorrow they might go out of fashion. Tomorrow something may come up and make everything  else out there old. How did classic books and classic music survive? We’ve heard that art reflects deep values, asks  – if not answers –  questions which are common to all people over the course of humanity. Popular trends just reflect conflicts more or less popular at a certain time, but classics may be looked at simply as classic trends.

A point to daydream about (or asterick #3):

  • Imagine a Chanel suit designed not in the  early 20th, but in the early 16th century and still on sale day. Wouldn’t that create a sense of mystery that makes heads go flying? Surely, a select few would be able to afford it, but everyone would know about it somewhere deep in their subconscious (like all kinds of people that have heard about the Chanel no.5 without a clear idea of how it smells). Girls woud wish for it on their birthdays, and women would  envy the rare lucky ones who have it. So why isn’t it the same with classic Art which is much more rare and valuable than a piece of cloth or a “classic” smell?

Maybe here’s why: (an attempt to explain the daydream):

  • When you buy a couture dress, you may need to save up for some time, but once you get it, there is nothing left to do but put it on and seek those knowing envious glances on the street. Which for most people equal enjoyment. Even the laymen will know that there’s something going on, though they won’t be able to quite pin it down. So for the price of the dress you get a free boost of vanity which seems fair.
  • As for Art, it’s totally different. It’s actually the other way around. It costs practically nothing to buy a “classic” novel, but once you start reading, you start making your own patchwork, whether you have any experience “sewing” or not. Anyway, “thought sewing” (and sowing) starts as soon as you start reading. That doesn’t happen with bestsellers. They are there to entertain – give you what you want, what you think you’re missing. But thinking (as opposed to fantasizing)  is a working process, and the longer you’ve taken the entertainment highway, chances are the more your breaks will squeal when taking the “classics” exit.  This may -and probably will – land you with a few questions floating iny your head. However, these aren’t the worst quesitons to have in your head, and your self isn’t the worst partner to work with. Actually, our head is a closed entity and  other people rarely envy the processes that are going on in there. So turning it inside out to find common answers won’t help – you’ll probably be reccomeneded a professional therapist to professionally stitch it back up.

 

So,no wonder “classic” isn’t a pop movement (excluding the cooking). But for the last, concluding little star, I must really rise up there to the skies and tell you that there’s consolation involved – a great one.

  • These doubts, soul searching, etc. make you let go of lies and illusions. And considering how much of the atmosphere we breathe is contaminated with lies, that’s something worth running after, or at least walking with.  In front of yourself, in the privacy of your heart, these want to quietly show you the truth. Just for you – because truth hates noise and masses and is always exquisite and personal. It is also soft and won’t make you go crazy.  But in order to answer the questions that lead to answers, there must be an interviewer who asks you them. An interviewer who is often boring and keeps asking “why, why, why,” when you evade the answer.  Not because he wants to drive you crazy or has no other things to talk about. It’s just because he wants you to find the true answer. You can get mad at, him, you slap the book shut, turn off the music, etc., but eventually, you can’t flee him. The classics only speak through him. All else is a myth. An urban myth which tells us that  classics look like white-bearded scholars reading dusty volumes. That’s bullshit. Classics speak inside us (and to us) because classics are the real we, noted down. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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