Empire State of Mind

I recently had the opportunity to visit my favorite place in the world (kind of) – New York City – on a whim. The reason NYC is “kind of” my favorite place in the world is because my world travels are very limited, but out of my extensive travels of the east coast of the wonderful United States of America, New York is easily my favorite. The city is just so wonderful; it sincerely baffles me when people say they could never live there (common response) or they don’t like the city at all (rare, but not unheard of).

To me the city is this big island of life, and who doesn’t love life? It is the best place ever, especially if you have money to blow. If not, it’s still awesome. There is never a shortage of activities and just walking around is a rewarding experience in and of itself.

So, the reason I was in the city spans back to my Harry Potter obsession. I entered a Facebook contest to win a ticket to see the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Daniel Radcliffe.

How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

Needless to say, I won a ticket to the Tuesday night performance (the night before my birthday, I might add), which brings us to my reason for my impromptu trip. Wednesday before my plane left to bring me back to South Carolina (I love SC, but it could never be to me what NY is), my mother and I decided to walk over 40 blocks to THE Metropolitan Museum of Art. On our last trip together (I came up another time, of course) we visited the American Museum of Natural History. It was fun, but I definitely consider myself more of an art person, at least when it comes to museums. 

We explored the museum for around four hours – that place is massive, the exterior of the building does not accurately express the interior’s capacity. There are ten wings not including the gift shop (I use that term very loosely as the shop is bigger than most Targets) or restaurant. Out of those ten wings, my mother and I whizzed through four of them intentionally and the other six out of sheer confusion.

As we were browsing through everything history has to offer, I had a couple of revelations.

  1. These pieces (particularly those of the Greek & Roman Arts wing) are old. Older than I can imagine. Thousands of years old. Old. And looking good for their age, if I may be so bold.
  2. A lot of these old pieces do not look very different from design today.

First, there is a celebrity appearance by the alien dog from The Neverending Story on some Egyptian relics.

Look closely (my zoom is not very good with phone pictures)

Clearly, these people had skill. And one can safely assume Wolfgang Peterson had an interest in ancient Egyptian art on display at the MMA.

Next, I’d like to show some historic jewelry from Africa.

African Jewelry/Art

If someone wanted to sell these, I’m pretty sure the average art collector would have some stiff competition from stylists and fashionistas.

I could go through all my pictures and say, “Look at this old junk! Doesn’t it look like the same stuff we make today?” But I think this is the point. In my classes this semester, several of the texts we’ve studied have inadvertently shown me that originality isn’t something that’s never been done before. That statement is itself a fallacy and its implications an urban legend. I tend to relate to Plato with his theory of archetypes outside of space and time for several reasons, the most obvious one being I’ve never seen otherwise.

This unintentional theme of originality that’s permeated my blogs thus far has confirmed what I already believe. The goal in making something “original” is not to make something new, but make it your own. Fashion designers, filmmakers, architects, painters and all artists alike will likely tell you the same.  To be truly groundbreaking you must first acknowledge the “ground” your “breaking” is not your creation – you’re building off of someone else’s work.

Finally, and this is my favorite, if you do not see the similarities between this ancient Greek bust and a certain film representation of a literature character, you are voluntarily deluded.

Get it? NO? Well then….

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