Saturday, June 04, 2005
What is it about Post Secret?
I’m probably late for the Post-Secret bus. I only discovered it about a month ago and what I’ve read recently suggests that it has changed from what it was before then.
What is it about the site that is so arresting? Part of it for me is the resemblance of the postcards to visionary art. The CSO, my linguist friend and I went to the American Visionary Art Museum last Saturday and I was really moved by the place. I always am. I'm a member. Anybody from my blogsphere who visits the DC/Baltimore area can have a tour of it from yours truly.
There's something about art created by untrained people that gives it something. My college art professor, who was smilingly critical, would likely ask if I had the same romantic notions about surgery by untrained people. And I can see that point. I am a great defender of modern art in general, but even I must admit the visionary art museum shows up nicely what modern art lacks. The Hirshhorn has intellect. Avam has soul. In the Hirshhorn, I find myself thinking "That's really cool. But I don't quite get it." In AVAM, I think "Damn."
And this is coming from me.
I hate people who wax on about the emotional having greater value than the intellectual.
I like my art intellectual, too. My tour of the modern wing of the National Gallery has won wide acclaim from my friends, except my linguist friend who is always trying to decamp to the renaissance.
Yet even an INTP admits these postcards have soul, even if, as people tend to point out, some of them are likely fake. To which I respond: So what? A Confederacy of Dunces didn't really happen either. It's a masterpiece because you read the book and you feel like it happened to you. (Aside: The stresses in my life have me considering therapy. The problem with that is my requirements for a therapist are as lengthy as the job description that produced Mary Poppins and five times as complex. Question numero uno in the initial session would be "What did you think of Confederacy of Dunces? " Answers of "What's that?" or "It was hilarious!" would save both me and the no-longer-potential-therapist lots of time. Don't get me wrong, my issues are nothing to Ignatius' But someone who can understand him on some useful level and feel for him has an excellent start on me at my worst. And besides, you probably have to be well-read enough to have read it to get my jokes.)
Anyway, I see these postcards and they produce emotion. My unofficial test of whether something is art is whether I look at it and it inspires me to go create something. These postcards do.
Are they confessional? Not, I think, in a useful theological sense.
But they are something better.
I think they take universal human emotion and they make something out of it. Like Philip Lopate twisting paranoia into a fabulously snarky poem.
When I initially found the site, I wondered if all this talk about art was just me rationalizing my own thirst for gossip and other people's pain. Then somebody on Peacebang's blog pointed me to notproud.com which held my attention for two minutes tops.