I cannot listen to Synergy Sequencer or the New World Symphony without thinking of outerspace. A child of the space age imagines in futures of near lightspeed travel, intellectually gangpressed to galactic vessels, breathing compressed the oxygen of an extraterrestrial destiny. Earth, throwaway in the vastness of the cosmos had but weak gravity for the nearsighted youth face close to the illustrated page. Hours and hours and lazy summer hours idling away in the future of youth's memory. What's outside? The same old netless bent hoops 9 feet over cracked asphalt. What's inside, one book containing the universe.
It took me about 10 years to find 'Ragged Robin', the book of poetry I learned to read as child. So much of my imagination was formed in consideration of Zachary Zed, the last man on earth, the Ten Towers of Tarlingwell and good Sir Kay. And so I wonder how long it will take to find those illustrations of alien spacecraft. Perhaps they'll never be found, though old dreams live on in fuzzy, weighty memories. And though I found James Reeves, I may never find the man whose illustrations painted extraordinary detail on my mind, now lost.
Where did all the illustrators go? Where are their easels, their scissors and paste? They've all gone to EA and Valve, to Bethesda and Microsoft Studios. There's no magazine I think, but Graphis where they might be found outside of their commercial endeavors. And how many hours was I there in Oviatt Library eyeballing every design that made its pages through the 1980s? I see it in the product, the industrial design in a tube of Prell with its bubble and pearl. I see it in the curve of my iTouch in its rubber special forces glove, ribbed by the designer at Speck. Our arts are subsumed objects in a global web of Krell-like manufacture, its ability bleeding away under a crisis of financial confidence. Hold on to that Maglite. It might go away. But what is the name of the man who decided the angle to extrude? Where did he first put a pencil to paper, a mouse in his palm?
The artists and craftsmen who turn the blades to cut a cricket bat or check the charcoal in the filter for the vodka that costs a little bit more. As we bleed and forget peaceful designs on our recreations, their quiet concentrations will fade from view and respect. We will forget the poetry in the din of tomorrows banging and bleating and screaming over more and more typical government corruptions. Why? Because people forgot that hope was not something gotten from political speechifying, because they forgot previously that singing about sex was not art, because they previously forgot that Ella Fitzgerald used to sing about falling leaves of sycamore and that when she did, there was a real person playing a real piano made of wood. But now who could bother to sacrifice a tree for something as Twitter-free as a park bench?
Inspiration is becoming a lost passion I think. And though I may never travel into space, I still know that thinking about things beyond consumer products gets the woman whose hammer sits idling beside the marble doing something much more inspiring than tiles for kitchen floors. I've never seen a sculptor at work, not even on YouTube. I don't even know where they teach it.
My XBox is a portal to artists, I know. I could lament that they give me zombies but I know the market. I cannot hope that there will be any unifying aesthetic, in fact, that scares me given certain audacities of hope and unity. So in my inability to find that particular guide with the cutawaysis bittersweet. Maybe inspiration stays ephemeral. Perhaps it refuses to be identified and referenced. Maybe the artist wants to remain anonymous, but I don't think so. Maybe we just lose them, and what a shame that is.