and the connection between totalitarian regimes and The Accidental Tourist is…

03.03.2011 Thursday – from my journal

At the gallery I wasn’t particularly inspired by any of the art, except for the 4th Estate, and I was sad to learn that Volpedo committed suicide after his painting was deemed too controversial to be accepted by any museums during his lifetime. It’s a shame he didn’t hang around to see what an emblem of revolution his painting became.

I got particularly fed up with the modern art, all the stuff from the 50’s and 60’s, the slashed canvases and lumps of lead. It all looks like a joke that I don’t get, and no one will explain to me. Sometimes I completely understand those totalitarian regimes that want to do away with the intelligentsia and middle classes.

There was a TED talk I was watching the other day, a woman who was working with Cambodian women, the last nine in the country who had some memory of Cambodia’s dance heritage, and they were starting to teach the youngest generation. She talked about the importance of preserving what was beautiful from the past.

All my parents wanted to do was distance themselves from their pasts. Mum, specifically, adopted the belief that the past has to be “discharged”, eradicated somehow, before we can function properly. Is that why she behaves like such a Martian so much of the time? S., too, she’ll hear a word, a cultural reference that someone of her background and education should be perfectly familiar with and claim to never have heard it. It drives me crazy. She’ll say things like, “a ‘milkman’…  what’s that?” For God’s sake, she reads and watches TV. She must have picked up something.

There’s a bit in The Accidental Tourist I find hilarious and I’m not sure why: “When Macon was small, he used to worry that his mother was teaching him the wrong names for things.  ‘They call this corduroy,’ she’d said, buttoning his new coat, and he had thought, But do they really?” Is it because Macon has a mother with the same “I’m not from here” act I grew up with? NB. Mum disguised her extraterrestrialness behind a “being an uprooted Italian” act for a long time, until I realised she is just as much of an alien in Italy.

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