WHY I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE CONSTANT DRONE OF TV's IN WAITING ROOMS


Boston MFA


Walter Benjamin talked about art losing its "aura" in the age of mechanical reproduction: photographs and other reproductions of art, etc., de-sanctify by repetition. He saw this, I think, as a desirable condition for art that had too long resided in the museum's temple. But he did not live to see the age of digital reproduction. He did not anticipate the age of corporate iconography. He could not imagine the inundation of electronic images in advertising: slick, skillfully rendered, but hollow; intended to manipulate the current cultural addictions. This age leaves me longing for the charge to my nervous system a great painting can give me. Picasso, as a draftsman -- relaxed and brilliant -- can take me to another world with a simple line drawing. Kathe Kollwitz can make me feel a Germany clouding up with unfortunate history. I'm for the museum, and also the street where Banksy, with simple tools, can astonish me. I'm shrinking away from the 24/7 blast of identically empty images. Warhol was a prophet in this matter: all the soup cans, all the Marilyns, the Maos. He saw it coming. Similarly I am attracted to the poem all over again against the typhoon of electronic noise that comes at us from the TV and the talking gas pump, the ubiquitous television in the doctor's office, etc. The poem and its quiet breathing survives the storm. There are things we cannot know until we become quiet.


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