Friday, March 11, 2016

A diary entry about video documentaries and the personal process of recovery.

Photo credit: The Red Egg, by Oskar Kokoschka.
Starting just before Christmas of 2015, I commenced an obsession with YouTube documentaries. First came a wave of videos about Eastern European history during the Communist era. Then I shifted into more current events in and around Estonia, where we have a holiday booked later this year.

Reading a biography of poet/crackpot Ezra Pound shifted my gaze to documentaries about writers, first Englishmen (Larkin, Burgess, Amis), then expatriated Americans in Europe (Hemingway and Fitzgerald), but also a few Americans remaining in America (Philip Roth, John Steinbeck).

In turn, this recently yielded to visual artists, primarily painters: Kokoschka and Schiele from Austria; Englishmen Sickert, Bomberg and Nash; Magritte and de Lempicka in Paris (1928). For the first time, maybe ever, modern trends in painting that began with impression are beginning to make sense to me. There's hope yet.

Admittedly, apart from a film about the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, these various immersions are occurring within the familiar outline of the "Western" canon. There have been far too few about women. I'll need to do something about this, and will. It's a start, nothing more.

Previously I likened being at loose ends after 25 years in business as feeling as though I'd awakened from a coma. Now it's becoming even clearer, in the sense that dormant personal interests submerged beneath the weight of My Life in Beer are bubbling to the surface again. They never went away. There simply was too much drama and distractions to indulge them properly.

It's like picking up where I left off in 1990, and being back in school; not the required courses, but the electives. I get out of bed each morning enthused by the opportunity to learn. It's priceless.

Yes, I'm damned lucky to have this time to think. Not everyone gets the chance, and I recognize my good fortune in having it.

Introspection is one of those hackneyed double-edged swords, because it leads you to good places as well as bad. The following essay, published at my beer blog earlier in the week, is an example of what I think will be arriving more often as post-business time passes. It's time for me to write the history of that 25-year span.

If I'm up to it. After all, I'm a posterity kind of guy.

THE POTABLE CURMUDGEON: Can I get a “do-over” on Naughty Girl?

... Previous generations of humanity, living and dying prior to the advent of mass communications, missed the sheer thrill of screwing up, watching one’s screw-up instantly become grist for a potentially global audience, and then be reminded of it at regular intervals forever after.

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