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The Expendable's Art Lesson

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by The Expendable, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. The Expendable

    The Expendable Bread and Circus Master

    Sorry if this is in the wrong category. If so, maybe the mods could move it for me? Anyway, like my chili recipe, this was originally posted on the other forum, so some of you might have seen it before. I was trying to bring a little "culture" to the survival community. :) After all, we're not animals, right?

    Without any further ado, here is my art lesson for the day:


    Thomas Cole is one of my favorite artists. This is from his Wikipedia page (Thomas Cole - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

    "Thomas Cole (February 1, 1801 – February 11, 1848) was an English-born American artist. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century. Cole's Hudson River School, as well as his own work, was known for its realistic and detailed portrayal of American landscape and wilderness, which feature themes of romanticism and naturalism."

    I stumbled across a some of his paintings a couple of years ago and have been a fan ever since. In 1836 he painted a series called "The Course of Empire", which portrays an empire progressing from its very beginning until its end. There are five paintings in the series. The first one is called "The Savage State", and shows a wilderness before civilization has been built up. I think of the American wilderness that existed for thousands of years before man had ever set foot on it.

    Cole Thomas - The Course of the Empire - The Savage State - 1836

    The second in the series is called "The Arcadian or Pastoral State". It portrays a simple life. The people in this time are shepherds and farmers. This is the beginning of a society. I liken this to the time from when the Pilgrims first set foot on Plymouth Rock, up until about the end of the 18th century.

    Thomas Cole - The Course of the Empire - The Arcadian or Pastoral State - 1836

    The third painting is titled "The Consummation". The society has reached its pinnacle of its influence. In our American society, I would calculate that we were in this stage from about 1900 until about 1960. During the 1800's we were on our way to this stage, but we had not reached it yet.

    Thomas Cole - The Course of the Empire - The Consummation - 1836

    The fourth painting shows a civilization near the end of its life. The people had become used to a lavish lifestyle that their society could no longer afford. It probably took many years to reach this point. The woman at the lower center of the picture is dressed in her fine white gown. She was probably going about her daily routine as if nothing was wrong. Without warning, their enemies attacked and completely destroyed everything she knew. I believe we have been on a downward slide for several decades now, and are close to that point.

    Thomas Cole - The Course of the Empire - Destruction - 1836

    The final painting in the series is called "Desolation". It shows the ruins of a once-great society whose excesses were its own undoing. This may be a representation of the PAW that we are all preparing for.

    Thomas Cole - The Course of the Empire - Desolation - 1836

    This concludes today's art lesson. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. smiley.
  2. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Nice...and thanks. I have thought about this issue a lot...from macro (what is going on now and in the paintings) to micro (e.g., dept. stores that probably used to be shiznit, but now set abandoned with graffiti and broken windows...or Detroit).
    Sapper John likes this.
  3. The Expendable

    The Expendable Bread and Circus Master

    Yeah, I can see our own decline happening before my eyes. When I see closed down shopping plazas, or restaurants that I used to go to sitting dark... I know that the economy is cyclical in nature, but I can't help but feel we are living at the end of picture three, and heading into picture four. People are used to a certain standard of living, but we're living beyond our means as a society. It's unsustainable.
  4. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

  5. strunk

    strunk Monkey+

    Now I know what I am going to hang in my hallway. I was looking for just the right series.
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member


  7. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    History repeats itself

    It's a nice, thoughtful informative post, Expendable. The series of paintings are a metaphor for the kind of rise and decline that most world powers seem to cycle through. It would seem that Cole's classic imagery may have been influenced by Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

    I am of the view that the USA has been in decline since the early 1960's and has been bankrupting itself in a series of pointless, futile wars to no good purpose. It is placing itself into massive debt to its closest ideological competitor so that the USA's compulsively consumerist citizens can purchase cheap geegaws from overseas produced by sweat labour cheaper than they can buy them from domestically produced sources. The only thing stopping China from calling in its debts, is the fact that it would screw its own economic expansion sideways. When China's ability to satisfy it's own internal market meets or exceeds its own need for foreign exchange, and when China is able to "negotiate" reliable sources of raw materials for their own requirements, then see the pigeons come home to roost.
    tulianr and Clyde like this.
  8. enough

    enough Monkey++

    Thanks for posting this. I enjoyed viewing it.

    I live in Michigan. I have lived in and around the auto industry for all of my life. (I live IN the area of industry, not OF the industry.)

    This has inspired me to take on a little project of my own. The cities of Flint and Detroit have both seen the full cycle as portrayed. I'm going to see if I can assemble a similar series for the areas.

  9. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    A message from Matthew Bracken

    I do believe that humans are no smarter or wiser today than 5,000 years ago, so I'm not surprised that eternal wisdom has been collected and passed down along several streams of philosophy. I'd be interested in a few examples of what you speak of, just for comparison and reference. I was always intersted in the "lost years" of Jesus, when some speculate that he wandered to the East. I like to think that he wandered very far, staff in hand, learning along the way.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we are heading for a giant conflict, a thousand-year "grand supercycle" event. All of the small and large wheels of history are aligning, and when they do, like the tumblers on a giant safe, the door to Pandora's Box will open up, and the great forces that guide mankind for good and evil will be released.

    It's our bad luck to live during these times, because I don't think many of us will see the restoration of civilization. In the battle between Mad Max anarchy and Big Brother totalitarianism that is coming, Lady Liberty will not stand much of a chance. We may see a new Dark Age lasting centuries. It's happened before, more than one time. The Romans of AD 500 did not live to see civilization return, that's for sure.

    A few months ago I stopped working on my next novel, there is no point in multi-year projects when we may go over the falls in a few months. So instead, I'm putting my creative energy into these essays. I'm also working on a few more short video projects, to try to influence reachable non-readers. If I encourage some folks to move to safer regions, that's enough.

    But the crowning essay I'm currently working on is a 5,000 word short fiction piece set a few years ahead titled "Alas, Brave New Babylon." It won't be a cheerful read. This is what always happens when man tries to replace God, and overturns natural law by legal fiat. Always. Unsustainable stresses are built up until there is a fracture. This time the fractures will be multiple, massive and globally tectonic. Most of us will not survive to see peace, freedom and prosperity again in our lifetimes.
    melbo likes this.
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