So here is my point again: Human art and language (as opposed to institutional art and language) always cite the exception, and it was Norman Rockwell's great gift to see the life in twentieth-century America, though far from perfect, has been exeptional in the extreme. This is what he celebrates and insists upon: that "normal" life, in this counrty, is not normal at all—that we all exist in a general state of social and physical equanimity that is unparalleled in the history of humans. (Why else would we alert the media every time we feel al ittle bit blue?) Yet, we apparently spend so many days and hours in this stae of attentive painlessness that we now consider it normal—when, in fact, normal for human creatures is, and always has been, a condition of inarticulate, hopeless, never-ending pain, patriarchal oppression, boredom, and violence—while all our vocal anguish is necessarily grounded in an ongoing bodily equanimity, a physical certainty that we are safe enough and strong enough to be as articulately unpleasnat as we wish to be.
—Dave Hickey, from "Shining Hours, Forgiving Rhyme"
I just finished Air Guitar, Dave Hickey's collection of essays from which I pulled the above paragraph. I first read Air Guitar in 2004, I loved it then and I love it now--except back then I was in the mood to say a lot more about it. See?
Hickey writes a lot about the significance (meaning "meaning", not "importance") of mundane or unpopular (amongst other critics and thinkers) things and speaks so clearly and kindly but authoritatively. This second reading of Air Guitar had me putting in some Norman Rockwell appreciation time at a Barnes and Noble and wishing I could pay a visit to the Liberace museum in Vegas sometime soon. I encourage you to read my old post on the book and then consider reading it yourself. Or skip what I say and just read the book.