A thought occurred to me today while browsing through DVDs at the Virgin Megastore (and the branding of anything as "Virgin Mega" is a whole discussion unto itself).
Let me preface it by saying, of course it's no secret that we live in an age of decadence and vulgarity. I have been arguing back and forth with myself for years as to whether or not this is inherently bad. In terms of art, those who, early on, are ridiculed or dismissed for being offensive or obscene, but ultimately are recognized as visionaries (Walt Whitman comes to mind, as does Picasso with Les Demoiselles d'Avignon), help create what those in academe would call a new way of seeing. In strictly personal terms, anything that at first seems too vulgar or embarrassing to do or say almost always quickly becomes to me the only thing worth doing. It is more raw and almost always more true.
But I'm not really talking about either kind of decadence here. Nor am I talking about pornography, although I guess it would qualify. Nestled deep within the womb of the Mega Virgin, i.e. browsing the lower level at Union Square, I was struck by how you could just pick anything . . . and then have it. I want to buy "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Done. Then I will go to the bakery and buy 35 croissants and eat them slowly one by one while watching the movie 35 times. Can do. I can go back and buy any other movie and then own it.
Can a movie really be owned? If you watch it hundred times and memorize it, do you own it then?
Being able to get whatever, whenever is a big big problem. I always knew it was but now I can feel why: Because when you can own whatever whenever, you remove the elemental emotion of longing, which is essential to art.
That said, every time I wach "Tiffany's" I feel deep longing . . . for a croissant, preferably chocolate. But I don't eat it.
Score one for art and my winter wool pants.