We are often confronted with the mandate of youth, and the conundrum of wisdom in the matter of — “Everything Goes!” — and I stand here to humbly submit that not everything must go. Sometimes, we need prescience and determination to realize the lack of self-restraint and that an untrained, unsavory, following can become profound enough to dangerously dismiss the best of us.
I confess I am not a fan of Realism in painting. If I wanted a photographic copy of a bowl of fruit, I would take a picture, not draw or paint something lifelike. The aesthetic in me argues it is always better to recognize the bits of the whole than to be presented with the absolutely identifiable — because in the pieces we find our wisdom and the inheritance of communal understanding.
In the abstraction of the object, we gain insight into the observer via the unfamiliar angle and the jarring wish that becomes the want to bring cogency and category to a disorienting world.
Is ballet or modern dance more visually effective? I vote in favor of ballet where classic training across the arc of many years is qualitatively and quantitatively valued at a much higher human stake — and a grander meaning is inherited in the exposition — whereas modern dance is “anything goes” without form or context. Some modernists believe to criticize the at will inspiration in performance is to be an intellectual degenerate who is unwilling and unable to cope with the newer, expanding, world.
I am a traditionalist — because I am a product of a specific program of study — and I argue a right song that lasts forever must have two, simple, basic, indisputable elements: A rhyme scheme and a hummable melody. Yes, it is tougher to rhyme a song and to create a memorable melody that future generations can sing along with and whistle to, but today, everything goes, and a song can be whatever someone decides it to be in an attempt at undefining what has always been known. I believe that lack of compunction and precision in the craft cheapens us all, and the result is the mishmash we have in modern Pop music where nothing makes any reasonable sense in the scope of history. Any notion of a shared memory of humankind is nonexistent.
New student actors always want to improvise a scene — no script, no direction — they’ll just “feel it in their hips” and go with whatever happens to arise. When you try to explain to them that only the most seasoned actors are actually professionally prepared the right way to improvise on stage, they become upset and haughty. How dare experience and training triumph over their total lack of any sort of serious study? Unfortunately, there are administrators who side with the high tuition paying student over the impoverished adjunct — and the teaching moment is not just lost, but forbidden — and the rest of society suffers in the anarchic, apostate, cultural melee.
Structure in storytelling is also important. We share, and expect to receive, certain rhythmic elements in any shared story — and when the pattern is off, or when the telling is insecure — we feel it in our bones and we reject the lessons from our bodies because we cannot relate to the foreign and the implicated. We want our expectations met and our fears vanquished.
Training and expectation and experience always mean something more to those who carefully practice the sustainable Arts — and the constant threat against that unquenchable desire is always the wont of young ambition in contrast with the satiety of the elder establishment.
Inexperience does not always know more, know better, or know the old ways will never work — without ever trying to imagine what once was — even though the past is always the righteous and reliable predictor of the future.