Monday, November 03, 2008

Salvaging a Day

I got up, gave a thought to the futility of life, had my cornflakes and made myself an odorous cup of coffee. The rain was pouring relentlessly, making it the day you would want to only stay in bed and count different stars from your dreams. But my bed was empty and was starting to become cold as well.

I spent the first hours writing my report on Drucker, the management classic theorist. Finally, at least one I’ve heard about and even read from before starting my PhD. His ideas did determine to an extent management practices in the last 60 years, it was thus not a futile exercise, although I would not say it was not completely boring. It required some degree of self-motivation every half an hour or so mainly based on a sugar intake.

Writing my report, I kept staring at my filthy windows with a view to my street. After several hours of filth, I decided to give them a long-needed wash, and, in the same time, improve my life outlook. Window is an interesting parabola – it can give outside or inside, be a door to the world, or a door to the soul. It is a symbol of freedom, but also Microsoft’s monopoly. Freedom to look, but not touch. What better, then, than to wash a window, to make you open it and destroy its pervasive span of control?

The next step was starting another book, Herbert Simon, another management classic, on whom soon I would have to write another report. The vicious circle of studying – that was my aim, to force myself into it, to get away from the futility of life questions and 8 to 5 altitude. Not that I am complaining!

After taking care of the physical need for a palpable food intake and attending to some beauty concerns with a purifying green substance the happy young Drucker-inspired marketing people call a mask that will save your face and make you young forever, and reading some more pages and engaging in more sugar intakes, I decided that my day needed some salvaging.

The rain had stopped, the streets were humid but drying, the outside finally looked appeased out of my window. I had to be out there. I started by rollerblading down to plaça de Lesseps, an interesting undertaking that required some care and muscle power to manage. It became more fun later, when slopes eased down to my likings, I remembered the good feeling of that old forgotten freedom rollerblading gives, the epitome of free will, go right, or left, the power of a motion. The car is similar, but it is less exciting – it is so easy to discount it, just go from place A to place B, while not participating at all in the environment during the journey. Rollerblading might be closer to the horse riding in the sense that it makes you fully aware of the outside, of the necessity to manage it and to look it into the eyes and say yes to its risk and challenges. Yes, it is the man-created and man-dominated outside, with car-monsters to avoid, and bus-dragons to by-pass, and human ogres to handle, but still it is refreshingly participative, refreshingly alive.

It has been a while I have stopped rollerblading for the sake of rollerblading, thus my first objective was Rodchenko expo at la Pedrera. I respect La Caixa for their effort to invest in a tangible benefit to society – and I find it very useful for my empty student pocket to be able to attend its high-quality expositions. I didnot know much about Rodchenko, he nicely connected what I already knew about Mayakovskiy and Lilly Brick with his pictures of the two and illustrations to Mayakovskiy.

It is a very interesting perspective to think today of the 20ies, the beginning and the excitement of the Soviet Union. Later, when I stopped by the Mucha exposition at the Caixa Forum, I saw Mucha’s photos of the Red Square in 1914. It looked so much like Perou – bespectacled Mucha among these Russian peasant women with a scarf wrapped like Arab women around their heads, like my grand mother does in the Carpathians, poor and rugged, transpiring poverty and desperation. And then (or rather before given my La Pedrera – Forum circuit) Rodchenko’s lineum and constructivism, the enthusiasm of empowering these people, of trying to work it out, of getting them to the power wheel. It is such a pity all that enthusiasm finished with a blood-thirsty dictator, a failure that destroyed so many lives, and preconditioned so many others.

The above look on Mayakovskiy’s face (picture by Rodchenko) said it all, those pictures are good. They made me want to read through “Pro Eto” and see the “Bedbug” play where the young Shostakovitch composed the score, and Rodchenko, like Picasso around the same time, designed the costumes. But that was the end of the happy times. The 30ies were around the corner, and the fun was soon to be over.

My next stop, as already announced, was the CaixaForum, another art investment by socially responsible bank. It was very appropriate to hold a Mucha exposition in this Art Nouveau factory. The setting did make me think about Taylor and the scientific management of the time, the “Modern Times” Chaplin movie, and my PhD readings. Then Mucha took over – the big lover of women, the mysterious and so beautiful women of his! I am not sure where he found his inspiration – maybe in the same unfathomable abyss where his friend’s, Gaugain’s, monsters came from.

Besides women, marketing and packaging innovations that also rang a bell with the marketing efforts of the Soviet Union Rodchenko participated in, there were the photos. Not only of the Red Square tourist trip of the rich Bohemian, but also of Gaugin. Since Vargas Llosa’s “El paraiso en la otra esquina,” my image of Gaugin was so, oh, so much different than the one that randomly popped up in the Mucha photos archive. Anna la Javanaise looked herself, like she should look. But that moustache-man, playing piano without pants – he looked so orderly despite the absence of pants, so beginning of the century, so far from the revolt and the exotic countries and exotic destiny he chose for himself. Maybe he looked a little bit like Dali, but nothing like a salvaje, a syphilis-rotting genius-to-be baking in the sun of Les Marquises after another glass of whiskey paid with one of his chef-d’oeuvres to the local joint-owner. Life is so strange!

After these musings, or rather just undistinguished pieces of piece-meal ideas in my head, I headed to the ultimate aim – Fuxi, to get my climbing fix. After the couple of usual traverses of the tunnel, back I went home. The day has been salvaged. Sunday was on the way.

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