Thursday, December 30, 2010

21st Century Stars of Wonder

We can only imagine what the Three Wise Men would have done today, had they spotted the pulsing, glittering, flickering bulbs that come to adorn many a houses this time of year - in some cases we even find ourselves asking, would you like a house with that? The meaning of Christmas in the 21st Century is as diverse as the people who celebrate it - for many it means the birth of the Saviour; for others, carols, puddings and shortcake; for some, finding presents under $5 for the Secret Santa; months of utter stress and chaos for a mere 24 hours; an excuse to meet up with the fam; an excuse to avoid distant relatives; loneliness; unnecessary spending... Christmas time is a beautiful Plate A of our culture. Like a Monday, it is unavoidable. Most people will have to face it somehow, whether with advent candles or the constant Ding-dong merrily on high in the shopping centre. Christmas says something about our culture and place in history that no other holiday does. If we look at its commercialism and observe how much it has eclipsed the proper intention of such day; that what has been a historic and religious festivalhas become in some cases eclipsed by a black hole of shopping trolley's, last minute gift wrapping and in some mindsets a pre-curser for Boxing Day sales. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Well, if we took a house with Christmas lights and looked at it as a form of art, a mini zeitgeist of Christmas culture, we would see the clinical austerity of Dan Flavin and the commercial repetition of Warhol's Brillo boxes - if commercialism can be seen as beautiful by our Post Modern context then perhaps Christmas is the most beautiful and thoughtful time by our 21st Century standards.

Both interesting and sad, I find the commercialism of Christmas to be one of its most defining features. Hopefully this video I made, and piano piece I improvised, will say it better than I have so far.

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