Friday, July 25, 2014

Making an impression

All life is ephemeral.

Here today, gone tomorrow.

Billions of men and women, many more billions of house pets, have come and gone.

Most of us leave traces in our wake. We live on for three or four generations in the memories of our loved ones and descendants.

One hundred years after our passing is my best estimate of the time it takes for the memory of us to dim to the faintest trace; to be barely discernible; perhaps only perceptible to the committed genealogists, and only if we are blessed to have one of those lunatic arborists in our extended family.

Of course there are exceptions.

There are those among us who have dared to be truly vile specimens in their lifetime. Their memory lives on for a while longer, in infamy, like the Boston strangler, or Jack the Ripper. Some particularly despicable miscreants, Caligula to call out an odious example, can persist in our collective memory for century upon century.

Those who, by dint of their singular will and charisma, have become towering political figures and commanded legions of us in their lifetime, conquering millions more, whether for good or ill, have clawed their way into the history books where their memory seems to be safe, if not for eternity, then at least for thousands of years. The Pharaohs come easily to mind.

But say, for instance, that subjugation, tyranny, and, to put it more simply, murder on an industrial scale, is not your thing.

What can simple, ordinary, loving, caring humans do to strive for immortality?

When an interviewer asked Woody Allen how he might achieve immortality, he replied “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”

Well this, dear reader, is your lucky day.

The secret for good people who strive to be remembered, is art.

Artists live on. Their memory is safe for as long as their art survives.

Authors live on as long as their words are remembered: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare,  Julius Caesar, Aristotle (OK, yes it's true, Julius did murder hundreds of thousands of his contemporaries, but, in his defence, it was more acceptable back in his day, and his memory lives more potently because of his writings - "... veni, vidi, vici!" - how poetic and succinct!).  These are the examples that come easily to mind without the aid of Google or Siri.

But if you really want to leave an impression, forget dancing, acting, or singing.  Nobody remembers those artists for very long.  Quick, name a hit tune from the 900s, 1100s, or even the 1460s (and I don't mean AM radio frequencies)?  See?

To achieve relative immortality, you've got to make a good impression. By that I mean, make a mark. Like a scratch, or a dent, or a chip, or a smear. Now we're talking the real deal.

Those who became serial smearers have left their mark: Picasso, Monet, Vermeer, Da Vinci, Tintoretto, and those graffiti taggers who defaced the caves of Lasceaux.

The scratchers, chippers, and denters may, just may, have done better: Hank Moore, Alex Caldwell, Louis Tiffany, Fred Remington, Augie Rodin, Bernini, Donatello (no, not the Ninja Turtle, the sculptor dude), and Alex of Antioch, to name a few.

Those who dared to cross platforms, to smear and to chip or tinker, just may be eternally immortal, like Leonardo (no, not Di Caprio or the Ninja Turtle, Da Vinci) and Michelangelo.

Don't get me started on the mudders, all those boys and girls who threw pots. They are among the oldest denters.  The more famous ones both dented and smeared.  In fact, it's the potters (no, not Harry) who really made their mark.

Makers' marks (no, not the bourbon). Don't believe me? Go no further than any episode of the Antiques Roadshow.

So what's a moto blogger to do to live on in popular memory?

We are artists. That's a decent start.

It's much too soon to tell how long our words and photos will persist. But there is definitely more than faint hope. Bits and bytes might just, in spite of their fragile nature ("my computer crashed!?!?!? I lost everything!?!?!"), be the cockroaches of all art media, virtually impossible to eradicate. Folks who suffer as victims of embarrassing content on the internet, have to resort to the highest courts to have the offending data expunged.

That said, there may be no substitute for making or leaving a mark.

I'm hedging my bets.

As a moto blogger I have made the bold move. I am a cross-platform artist. I have left a mark (many marks actually, truth be told). And now I'm recording it (them) right here, in this blog.
There, done.

Well at least it's a start.

Stop laughing.


Unknown said...


I am still trying to figure out why we're here and why you ended up in Montreal and not Vancouver. It sure would have been more convenient if you ended up here, instead of there.

You're sure scuffing up the ground in your parking garage. Are they going to make you repair it ?

bob: riding the wet coast

RichardM said...

An entertaining post. Why is it that people find a need to leave any kind of impression whether physical as in the case of your centerstand or virtual like this blog. Is there a need to be remembered beyond the next couple of generations?

For example, you know that some pharaoh built some pyramid but you don't hear anything about him beyond that. What is the value of that to the pharaoh?

Unknown said...

Bob, at $18 dollars a day, there should be enough profit margin to resurface the moto parking. After all, they're charging the same amount for cars, and it's an otherwise useless space. So the profit margin is about 100%.

Unknown said...

Yes, well, no. I don't much care about posterity to be honest. I do like to entertain, if I can. But entertaining countless future generations? Too tall an order I think. Heck just providing enough entertainment for you, and Bob and Brandy, and Karen, and Michael, and Dave, and Peter, and Rob, and Dar, and Roland and Sonja, and Deb, and Keith, and Steve, and Doug, and Paul, and Bill, and Mike, and Tom, and... phew it's no small challenge. And I don't always succeed of course.

RichardM said...

You just provided more entertainment, Susan...

David Masse said...

Ya, all I saw was that I was logged in to a Google account on our shared Mac.

After 38 years of wedded bliss (truly), we are almost one. Maybe a little more now.

SonjaM said...

Time for your own Mac, eh?

SonjaM said...

From the early days we were destined to leave our marks all over the planet. From cave art and petroglyphs to their modern form of blogging. By leaving your marks in the pavement you merely followed the genetic programming of telling the world "David was here".

David Masse said...

Sonja, that's all we need, another computing device. It's simpler to pay attention and log Susan out of Google before I comment.

I agree with you. Marking territory is deeply rooted in our animal DNA. Maybe that accounts for all the litter.

The hacked up floor in the office's underground garage is completely inadvertent of course. If you're going to park a PTW, the odds are you'll use the centrestand, especially if it's a scooter. I see marks from my sidestand too, which I only use briefly when mounting and dismounting when my computer bag obstructs the step-through space.

I conclude that the coating they've used on the floor is too soft for PTWs. They're the professional garage operators, they'll figure it out. Or not.

In the meantime, I've left my mark(s). It's not as bad as the person who parks their older VW cabrio a few spots over. There's enough oil on the floor that soon I'll need a hazmat suit just to walk by it.

VStar Lady said...

David ... this post left a mark on my brain ... as far as the side stand goes, get a plate for under it, and I'm sure, as long as you haven't pee'd by the bike (and you're wearing your gloves and helmet) there will be no DNA evidence - the rest, the garage operators can figure out.
I don't want to leave - a mark, I just don't want to leave (but I think I will not have a choice in that, so I hope I live on in memories of those who mean a lot to me, and after they are gone ... then so shall I be, but by then I don't think it will matter to me.)

David Masse said...

Well Karen, let's see, if Woody Allen manages to live on, there may be hope for us.

Forget other people's memory of us, I'm much more concerned for my memory of other people, not to mention the meaning of things!

But there's hope there too, wouldn't you know.

Keith has a link in a comment left by Chris Luhman. It may be that riding is a hedge against memory loss.

It's a Japanese study though, it might just be a ploy by Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki to boost sales.

The link to the study is here, and the link to Keith's post is here.

Trobairitz said...

Thank you for the entertainment David/Susan. :-)

I personally don't want to leave my mark in life. I prefer to eventually fade away and the world will never remember I was here. Not too sure what that says about me?

David Masse said...

Brandy, it speaks volumes. It means you have none of the behaviour, often born from insecurity, or sociopathy, or plain old selfishness, that drives so many of the people destined for immortality.

Don't change a thing. You've already earned an A+ in humanity.

Michael J. said...

I just stumbled on your blog and after reading this, the first one - I'm hooked! Most of us want to leave our mark in some fashion and I am no different. So I'll ride my scoot' and look for opportunities.

David Masse said...

Welcome Mike.

The key to a good life is happiness, and the key to happiness is following your passion. Sounds like you're on your way.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.