J. Paul Getty on "What Everyone Thinks"

Popular, mindless conformity to "tradition"...


Hi : ) My sister and I had an interesting reading selection in a practice SAT college entrance exam today, and thought you might enjoy part of it, too. : ) There were two passages presenting different views of the architectural design of the Getty Art Museum. The first passage was basically a lot of criticism about the way the building was designed; how it was “unconventional.” Below is a quote from the second passage which was taken from Getty’s autobiography. I thought it was all a good picture of the things that offend people about God’s House that He is building: those who are losers can’t honestly criticize the Product of the Life, so they instead attempt to criticize what they would be forced to reconsider in their own lives and religion: HOW Jesus really builds, Biblically speaking!

Getty said, “The flouting [defiance] of conventional wisdom [“this is how everyone always does it”]—and refusal to conform—carry with them many risks. This is nowhere more true than in the Art World, certain quarters of which tend to be very much doctrinaire and elitist.

However, I had calculated the risks—and, I say this with an admitted degree of arrogance, I disregarded them. Thus I was neither shaken nor surprised when some of the early returns showed that certain critics sniffed at the new museum. The building did not follow the arbitrary criteria for ‘museum construction.’ There were those who thought it should have been more conventional—that is, I suppose, that it should have been built to look like some of the museum structures whose architecture can be best described as ‘Penitentiary Modern’……

I have a fortunate capacity to remain unruffled.

*I also have had more than sufficient experience in many areas of life to know that the shrillest critics are not necessarily the most authoritative (and seldom the most objective). Beyond this, the very shrillness of their cries and howls very quickly exhausts their wind.*”

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