Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Special Tribute: US Major Andrew Olmsted, R.I.P.

Major Olmsted was one among three of the first casualties in Iraq for the New Year. He was also an active blogger in his own blog, for other blogs and the Rocky Mountain News.

Olmsted, 38 years of age, died from small-arms fire when his unit was ambushed.

Why the special tribute?

Before dying, Major Olmsted starting writing his last blog post, with instructions to a friend to post after his death. Read it here. While the posthumous act itself was quite unusual, more awe-inspiring were the ideas that he committed to words for that last post.

But more significant for me were the words that came from somebody else:
“…it was important to know that Olmsted died doing what he loved to do — not just being a soldier, but posting his blogs for The Rocky and other sites.”
Now, isn’t that what life is all about? Doing what one loves to do. Regardless of the amount of time involved. Maj. Olmsted was 38.

Aside from what was mentioned in the quote above, Maj. Olmsted loved seeing his favorite baseball team win the World Series twice. And he was mighty proud of his extensive 80’s songs library, downloaded and ready to be listened to.

About the moustache? Was he going for the macho look? No, he just thought that Iraqis did not look too kindly on those without facial hair.

This fine soldier died in a war-torn country so the rest of us in the comfort of our homes and in the fullness of time can give pause and ponder on the wantonness of this soldier’s early demise.

This fine soldier died so the meek and gentle can gather thoughts and ask why with the utter uselessness of wars they are still breaking out in the world, with regularity and almost with necessity.

This fine soldier died so the rest of us can think and express ourselves in whatever way we desire, with freedom and without fear.

This fine soldier even died for those who may find dread or be squeamish about the brutally violent nature of a soldier’s job.

But as always things still fall neatly in place, since to each life there is a season.

What Is Art, again?

Maybe the above question is something we ought to ask often if only to highlight the attendant difficulties and uneasy confusion people encounter when trying to define what art is. The oft-quoted cliché that beauty is in the eye of the beholder could apply also in judging what art is, whether serious, pop, or whatever.

This untended difficulty reared its head during the last entry on my poster collection of Norman P. Rockwell works. Many critics had panned Rockwell’s works by denying him the honor of considering his work as serious art; instead that he was simply an illustrator however gifted he was as such.

And I always have a problem with such restrictive delineation because my mind has not really been able to grasp the exact parameters of what serious art really is. Should one rely strictly on the judgments of the art critics? But don’t they disagree amongst themselves? And many would go further and decry the lack of objectivity or relevance in many admired critics.

Anyway, I am not making this orphaned confusion my personal problem, because I simply follow my gut feelings and try to work up inspiring vibes about the works that appeal to what I could consider my sense of what is beautiful, tasteful, or extraordinary.

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