Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Meditation on Assumed Purpose and Intent-Finale

I hope you have enjoyed this most recent series of articles.

I will be out until Monday, while I am recording with my band.

I will return on Monday, with an article on 'Mrs. Kitty'.

Enjoy the rest of your week and your weekend.


Have you ever seen those flat bed trucks full of flattened cars?

One time one of those overturned on I-35 in Austin. It looked like the worst wreck our time had ever seen. All these flattened cars all over the road. It looked way more grisly than it really was.

Things don't always seem what they appear. They always are what they are.

At the turn of the 20th century there was an interesting composer by the name of Charles Ives. He approached music composing from a unique and non-standard point of view, and has influenced every major 20th century composer from Aaron Copland onward.

The idea of using American folk music in symphonic music, for example, was certainly used to great extent in the music of Copland, but he got the idea from Ives.

Ives also composed music that sounded like two bands passing by each other in a parade.

He would ask, in the introduction to his 200 Songs, "Why must a song always be a song?"

Why must anything be what it is? Why must we follow the accepted norms for any created thing?

This seems to be the question that a lot of 20th century art has asked, particularly the abstract, which seems to go as far as to ask why does anything have to be anything at all?

Assumed purpose and intent.

Meditation on Assumed Purpose and Intent, 3 of 4

When I was in junior high I used to walk around in auto salvage yards.

I used to like to go out there particularly to look at the older cars. In the dry climate that New Mexico is, old cars can last a long time. I saw some really desirable and interesting cars there.

Many were complete. The owner never parted out complete cars.

Others may have been missing a door or all doors, the windows gone, the motor might have been in the trunk.

These cars were frozen in time. Looking at them square in the grille they seemed to want to go. Their headlights, as if eyes wide open, anticipated forward movement, being driven again.

The seats waited in vain for people to sit, the ignition waited in vain for a car key.

The most that would ever happened is that somebody would come get another part off of it, or that it would rust, eventually, it would sold for scrap metal.

Some cars were wrecked, some worse than others. I saw one heap that had the roof cut off of it.

No matter the extent of their own immobility, they seemed oblivious to their condition or surroundings.

Assumed purpose and intent.

Meditation on Assumed Purpose and Intent, 2 of 4

I'm reminded of a gift that my grandma gave me when I was younger, maybe First Grade.

It was a Christmas gift, wrapped under the tree. It was round, about the height and shape of two rounded off tuna cans. Everytime you turned it around it would make a definite 'moo' noise like a cow.

In the time before Christmas I spent hours trying to figure out what could this be. It was a cylindrical, can-like object that mooed. It wasn't in the shape of a cow, but yet it mooed everytime. Not maybe a sort of moo, but a definite honest to goodness moo.

I couldn't perceive of a can that mooed, so I wondered what it was that mooed. It wasn't a toy cow, so what was it????

My grandma gave me other stuff for Christmas that year, one of them was something I could use with my enormous Hot Wheels collection.

But this 'can that mooed' was the center of everyone's attention on Christmas, and this present was the first one I opened.

When I opened it, I was so disappointed.

The expectation being that it was something more than a 'can that mooed', that it would be 'something', or 'something else'.

It ended up being a 'can that mooed'.

In fact, you could have gone to any toy store during that time and found cans that made all kinds of different farm animal noises.

I nearly had a traffic accident the other day thinking about how funny that whole thing was, literally crying I was laughing so hard.

Assumed Purpose and Intent.

Meditation on Assumed Purpose and Intent, 1 of 4

Imagine a wooden bowl. A nice wooden bowl. The kind that's finished real nice, smooth and polished. Not something you would put a salad in, but a nice bowl like you would get, either from an upscale store, or even from the craftsman directly.

Now imagine a perfectly domed lid on this bowl. It fits just right, and when you take off that lid close to your ear, it has that perfect sound of what it sounds like when you take off a lid.

Yeah, that sound.

Now imagined that same bowl, with the lid on. The lid now is not removable. The bowl and the lid are one. There is trim between the lid and bowl that would suggest a lid-bowl situation, but a tug on the ornate object at the top that strongly suggests a handle, bears no proof of this.

Now we have a curious object.

It sits with so much intent and purpose, as if it has some spiritual significance. You can almost imagine the inside, that it holds something very valuable. But to find out what is inside, if anything is, would damage and destroy what it is.

My friend Ann found a piece of oak one day on her ranch. She knows a master wood craftsman, and she gave the wood to him, thinking he could make something really neat out of it.

He returned to her this object.

When she showed it to me, I just fell apart laughing at this thing. So much purpose, so much intent, finely crafted, but for no apparent purpose.

After I picked myself up off the floor(I find odd things very funny), I continued to admire the bowl, and really appreciate it as a fine work of art, which is what it is.

Ann was surprised by my reaction, she was a bit perturbed that he hadn't made anything more useful than that.

I expressed my appreciation for the creation, and expressed the contradiction that it represented, and how only a true craftsman could make something so refined and impractical.

Assumed purpose and intent.