07 November 2005

know when to stop.

writing is difficult. I am rediscovering this as I write an entry for the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World (modern = 1750-present in this case) entitled "Art—Overview." Art. All of it. 1750-present. I could cop-out and write it as the story of art historical progress from Romanticism through the Neo-Classical and Realist periods, on to Impressionism, the Modern movements (Surrealism, Cubism, etc.), Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, and The Postmodern. And yet, I am not that guy. I'm the fool who wants to solve the world's problems in an encyclopedia entry. thus I am attempting in 3000 words to do justice to "Art—Overview" on a global scale, including the practices of tattooing by the Maori, sculptures of deceased twins in western Africa, Qing ceramics, Hiroshige, the revival of Norse mythological subject matter, the folk art of the Appalachias, Socialist murals in Mexico, Stalinist propaganda posters, and of course, the musical sculpture of Tipu's Tiger, made in advance of the southern Indian king's victory over the British, a victory that in fact never happened.

I am slogging through.

After writing about 450 words this morning on the period 1750-1880, I penned (typed?) this glorious two-sentence summary of Orientalism.
This period also saw the birth of Orientalism, or the construction of an object (“the Orient”) that could be studied by Europe. The Orientalist genre of European painting spans the stylistic movements of Romanticism, Neo-Classicism, and Impressionism and focuses on the cultures of northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, depicting scenes that supported the idea of the Orient as place of lasciviousness, barbarity, and sloth populated by inaccessible scantily-clad concubines, ruthless warriors, and indolent sultans.

and we're done writing for the day.

1 comment:

Number Three said...

Awesome entry/summary of Orientalism. I would post excerpts of my encyclopedia entries, but they are much less, er, interesting. 250 words on Breithaupt v. Abram (1957), but really, who cares?

I understand not being "that person." I've really had to work hard to filter out my issues with the traditional civil liberties (Whiggish) meta-narrative in writing my entry on the Fuller Court (1888-1910). Plus, try writing an entry on 22 years of civil liberties issues in 1000 words. Not as challenging as 1750-Now, Art ("all of it"), in 3000 words.