Nothing lasts forever. Nor is there any reason that it should. Still, sometimes it’s hard to let go of things which have been with you your whole life. Movies have been on their way out for awhile now but this year I swear I’ve heard death rattles from the bowels of the multiplex. I can’t imagine no longer going to a darkened room with a few hundred seats and checking out of my reality and into another for a couple hours. But I doubt most people these days could say the same. There are too many other ways to distract oneself. I can see moviegoing becoming a fetish like record-collecting (which, of course, I indulge in as well).
It’s no great shock that I’d cling to a dying art form. After all, painting hasn’t been truly important to society since sometime in the 19th century, but I have no plans to stop doing that either. I don’t remember myself without a pencil or brush in my hand my whole life, but I knew way back that what made me feel alive would also keep me out of step. Art chose me and never told me that what I’d be doing might seem outmoded or quaint to others.
I wasn’t even born when painting mattered but can certainly remember when movies did. Books are headed towards history’s landfill as well. The Printers Row Book Fair used to be an important summer event in this city, but this year’s was more like a glorified garage sale. Wandering in the blistering sun past stalls piled with tomes which will likely never be read made me sad. The fact neither of my publishers even bothered to bring my books didn’t lighten my mood any either. I can’t imagine life without books. I still read at least a couple pages every day. But I can certainly see a future in which I’m not involved in making them. It looks very much like today.
There’s no point in mourning any of this. There’s no reason for a thing to exist unless it absolutely has to. For instance, there’s no need to print newspapers in 2017 other than keeping up the habit of killing trees. Everything a newspaper was used for can now be taken in on one kind of screen or another; whereas that’s not true for either movies or paintings. Both suffer from changes of format or venue; in fact, they are no longer themselves once robbed of their original setting and context. Sometimes, paradoxically, once an art form has passed out of fashion, it is freed to be explored more purely. After the advent of photography, painting continued on its own peculiar path and continues to be a worthwhile way to express oneself for the small subset of artists who keep at it. Maybe moviemakers and book-writers will also keep creating, albeit for a much more specialized audience. I hope so.
Being irrelevant has its advantages.
—The dog’s name is Walter. He died after choking on a bagel. I never met him but hear he was a good boy.