Friday, December 9, 2011

Keeping Bad Company?

Singapore is a good place to worry about globalization. This city does shopping malls better than anywhere I have been. They are clean, cool, busy, and wind underground for miles. A December visit adds Christmas music and glitzy decorations to the dazzling commercial display.  I have layers of resistance to ”stuff” and universal brands, yet feel funny about wishing away modernity and prosperity when I have benefited from these environmental factors all my life.

 One result of Singapore’s prosperity is huge museums full of sights that enrich my brain and soul. At the National Museum of Singapore I also found companionship. The interpretive displays at a travelling Musee D’Orsay exhibit explained that some impressionist artists were resisting industrialization. That explains the paintings of peasants and haystacks. They sought them out and idealized them.  Occasionally they grappled with current realities by allowing an industrial smokestack in the distance.

The Pre-Raphaelites harked back to medieval painting before western rules of painting were established by Raphael.  I feel solidarity with their nostalgia. I am awed with how constructively they expressed it in gorgeous paintings that have lasted 100-150 years. And I appreciate the company as I sort through my layers of resistance.

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