Behind the violence of Grand Theft Auto [left], light which has been most challenging to convey since the inception of painting is unconsciously rendered, almost inadvertent, unknowing of its beauty. The television and monitor offer us emanant light, not mere reflected; its brightness comes from within. Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot [right] lived with his parents until he was fifty; he painted twice a day — in the hours preceding dusk and following dawn, when the light was most tentative and transparent. In the 150 years between our cited landscapes, a lot has happened. What took months, even years to paint, is now addressed as a backdrop; its light perfect and eerily humanist. In both, look at the faint haze of sunrise in the distance, the tickle of leaves. Computer nerds now make bank writing code for games, seducing the newest generation of nerds.
I had a roommate who let me play his PS2. I was immediately drawn to Grand Theft Auto; though, as the misanthropic novelties of punching hos and crashing cars quickly wore off, I began playing the game existentially. Hoping to ‘crack’ the code, I would jump into the ocean and swim outwards towards the horizon until I hit the ‘edge’ of the game’s coding. It’s amazing how ‘incidentally’ elaborate the game was: seagulls and dolphins would pass, the sun set, clouds came over and went, the sky shifted hues, and darker and darker into night I would continue to swim. (In real time, this took about 10 minutes, which in accelerated game time amounted to about 10 hours.) Odd thing is I never reached the game’s coded boundary, nor did I die. Life just continued, bluffing forever until my fingers gave in. The sirens had stopped, and the cops simply forgot about me. That ho I punched, her lip would heal. That roommate I had would flunk out of law school on account of World of Warcraft. Corot would paint 2000 landscapes and die within a 5 mile radius of his mother’s grave. As Thelonius Monk said, borrowing from Against The Day‘s epigraph, “It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light,” which sort of blew my mind — that the sun is a temporary thing imposing itself on the true state of the universe. If it’s not black, you know it’s in front of you. I think Mark Rothko, the last man on the moon, would agree.