Copernicus and the Zen of Attitudinarianism

Discussing the value of modern art has reminded me of the truly annoying: the rarefied religion of pomposity. In one of my recent posts, I mentioned Woody Allen’s frustration with the pompous ass in line behind him during a scene in Annie Hall. I know how he felt. I’ve had my fill of pompositude, where individuals from all branches of the arts and sciences have tested the levels of pompousness a human can endure. At times, their snobbery compels them into a state of pomposuration on par with nirvana. Nothing can touch them and they have nothing left to learn. Thus they achieve the highest state of the neo-pomposer: Attitudinarianism.

With just the right pose, the truly pompous can make themselves believe the most idiotic, small-minded, ridiculous nonsense the human mind can conjure.

Regarding a Jackson Pollack canvas awash in a myriad of limited hues, the Attitudinarian can put a finger to the lips and muse on the greatness of composition, the agony and the ecstasy, how the drippings are rife with song screamed from the tortured heart of the artiste. When one politely suggests that a monkey could (and has) painted somewhat more meaningfully, the hall is hushed with one great intake of breath as the befuddled art students look to their guru.

The Attitudinarian is a complex master of his native genre who looks upon you as a feral rabbit just landed from Botany Bay. No, no, he says, his stance tall and rigid. The monkey has no soul, the monkey has no purpose, the monkey’s parents loved him too deeply, the monkey has no scars, the monkey cannot understand the intricacy of the drips, dripped as only an genius like Pollack can drip.

And I understand. I understand why the poser has such a rigid stance. I need say no more.

Perhaps my finest example of this all too common play act came during a meeting of senior staff haggling over technical issues for an army information system. Executives had decreed that a select band of thirteen men and women would form a guidance committee. All decisions had to be unanimous. The group nodded at the brilliance. Everyone was included, no one was left out, and everyone had a vote. What could go wrong?

One emergency issue was straight-forward enough that twelve people saw the answer right away. Only the thirteenth objected. Even without a better solution, this Thirteenth Man would not agree. The group argued for hours appealing to their last for unanimity. The Thirteenth Man was adamantly opposed.

When asked what justified the filibustering of the decision-making committee, the Thirteenth Man recounted the tribulations of Copernicus, standing alone against the might of the Church, a single bastion against the ignorant majority.

Not everyone took the analogy well and the room erupted into furor. Can the rules be changed? Surely twelve out of thirteen ain’t bad? But, no, their mandate was clear. No proposal could be adopted without complete agreement. The fix seemed doomed to fail, until one person cried out, “For the love of God, man, who do you think you are?”

The Thirteenth Man surveyed the entreating faces, looking each person in the eye, his expression haughty and defiant. He answered, “I am Copernicus.” In his proudest moment, he had achieved his dream of Attitudinarianism.

The motion failed. The next day, the group was dissolved in favor of a three person steering committee that required two out of three votes. And that wasn’t bad.

Copernicus was shipped off to whatever office he’d come from and we went on to win that phase of the proposal process.

If only life were so simple.

Stay Friendly and Healthy.

[BTW, I call the featured image, no. 1 2016, “Collapsing Balloons in an Art Gallery”]

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