This is one of my favorite color photographs I have taken. I was living on the Greek island Santorini (Thira) for several months and I was trying to figure out how to capture or symbolize the depth of the ancient Greek soul and what “blossomed” from that soul at its peak. Well, this is what I came up with. This island is so beautiful…scene of an enormous volcanic explosion combined with the deepest blue water you will ever see so close to land. This basic yellow wild flower grows all along the caldera and they are so beautiful against the backdrop of the deep blue.
I realize I am perhaps a Neanderthal, or the Savage in Brave New World, but when I look about at men these days, I have to ask — what happened to us? Who exemplifies a man these days? Is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffet men to be emulated? Are they an image and symbol of what we should strive to become – Rich Tech nerds gone wild or stingy smart investor turned saint? Perhaps a movie actor like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Hugh Jackman are ideal– men that make millions because they look good and can pretend like they are someone else. What about athletes – Tom Brady, Payton Manning, do they represent our peak? These men make millions simply for throwing a pig skin with immense skill. There is always Justin Bieber – what a stud. My friend Justin is a good transition to my next observation.
I have noticed as of late men seem to becoming more woman-like and generally less masculine as a result of modern concerns. I am not, in this observation, degrading women or at least that is not my intent. But our voices seem to be higher and contain more feminine intonations. We tend to dress with tight-fitting clothes and walk like a model on a runway ramp. We talk to kids like little puppies and resort to time-outs as opposed to a good spanking. We sit at desks in front of computers or play with our little tiny phones. We drive our cars using little skill or muscle other than what is required for a slight left or right turn or pressure on this foot or that. When we go to war, we rely on guns and bombs as opposed to our horse, shield, and sword. When we want to train our bodies we run on a treadmill or lift weights as opposed to developing natural strength through one’s profession or pursuits. When we court women, we don’t use poetry or proper language and etiquette, we simply go to on-line dating sites, or drop some stupid lines at a bar. We push shopping carts and baby carriages instead of the plow. Is this what women want? If so, then one also needs to ask what happened to Women?
In all honesty, I don’t see many examples of “real” men these days – actors, tech geniuses, jocks, hip-hop stars, businessmen, politicians….maybe a Fireman Poet would be cool. I think men are simply molded in large part by the culture in which they exist. Perhaps this is why I often find myself wishing I lived in another era or period of time. I think it might be preferable to be a man in Ancient Greece, Rome, or during the Renaissance. Certainly, one could argue men of the past have been glorified beyond reality – just look what we did to the honorable and wise man Jesus. But, I think if you look at the art of everyday life as well as the higher art of those past peaks of western civilization one can gain a glimpse into manhood.
Based on my vague notion from prior studies and extended time around European museums, the men of the past seemed to have greater natural physical strength and more skill, immense courage and bravery embroidered with refinement in mind and manners, more respect and reverence towards women (equal rights excluded), a sense of purpose and forward progress – a straight back, broad shoulders, head up high, eyes open, hands and mind employed, clothed in proper attire to match the appropriate situation, tongue that speaks with content, actions that match thoughts and words, broad education and cross training. Look at the image above. Achilles, as a young boy, being trained by half man half horse, how to play music. Now that is one hell of an image don’t you think? Imagine such a man amidst us here and now. He would be cast out to the far-reaching perimeter and slowly decay into a forgotten old man…while Justin Bieber sings and dances his way to the top of the Alpha Male inverted pyramid.