Triumph Over Mastery II

A poem about "I Like Things The Old-Fashioned Way"

The sacred temple's altar, red with age,
Through phases, years, appears in minds and form
To've claimed itself, the Classic, known and sage,
Shaped it the stage, defined the common norm.

Immortal, then, its tint not waste but proof,
"With age some things improve, become divine."
Mysterious, these stories on the roof;
Unknowable and famous, all's and mine.

Alas, what industry might play on these
That with a gesture might convulse a slash?
Unshakeable these works might seem to be
Yet can be taken quickly, mute and flash.

The villain on his ladder; climb he will,
Above the known; stark white to make his name.
What makes erasure easy? Not the skill;
Th'audacity to seize the famous frame

And with a bleaching moment clear the air,
You vanquish these fond ghosts, these memories
And climb another rung while most despair.
Move on, your spectral shadow chases thee.

Tear down the past, ignore divinity,
Move on, your spectral shadow chases thee.


So this is a picture of a guy whitewashing the Sistine Chapel.

It doesn’t escape me that by writing a poem trashing the beautiful painting of the guy on the ladder I risk becoming the guy on the ladder. This is a fine painting. I don’t know who the guy on the ladder is actually meant to represent, but I recognize the act. Of course you can make your art without using the walls of the Sistine Chapel as your canvas, metaphorically, right? But you tell me a better way to get your art seen than by producing it through an unignorable desecration.

This is meme culture in a painting. Nothing’s sacred when validation is currency. Actually, nothing was sacred when money was currency, either, so maybe the artist isn’t the problem.

I don’t know. Do more building up than you do tearing down, I guess. Because it’s nice? Be nice. I forgot my wallet and keys and work ID at home this morning so I need some niceness in the world. Be the niceness you wish your old friend Phil to see in the world.

That’s it. This has been nonsense. Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


Image: Triumph Over Mastery II by Mark Tansey

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