Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How To Be Rich

Yesterday's visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum was a great adventure, partly because of the experience of the architecture (the physical museum is a work of art), the location (atop a small mountain overlooking the city of Los Angeles as viewed from the west), and the exhibits (a nice selection from the permanent collection and a exhibit about Giotto and his influence on Florintine art during the first half of the 14th century). Admission is free, and parking is modest and efficient.

Like the Griffith Observatory, which sits atop a mountain to the east of the center of the city, it is a gift from a wealthy industrialist to the people of the city (and the world) that offers a chance to look at the world from a totally different perspective from the norm, whatever that may be.

I knew nothing about Getty before this adventure, so, after enjoying my day with his gifts, I bought a copy of his well-titled book, How to Be Rich. Sandwiched between chapters about how to work hard, make good investments, respect the people who work for you and respect the labor unions they belong to (it was first published as a series of articles in Playboy Magazine between 1961 and 1965), are chapters about the importance of education, music, and art in our lives.

Here's a taste:
The "anti culture" bias appears to thrive at most levels of American society. . . . Only a tiny percentage of the population reads great books or, listens to great music. It's doubtful if one in ten Americans is able to differentiate between a Doric and an Ionic column.
Do you know the difference between a Doric and Ionic column? Sure, you can look it up. But do you actually know, or care?

The book is really an interesting look at the times, which, in many cases, if we are to believe the state of art and culture an America during the early 1960s through the eyes of Mr, Getty, have indeed changed for the better. I like to think it has changed, in part, due to his posthumous efforts.

A parting thought from Getty's penultimate chapter called "The Art of Individuality":
The conformist is not born. He is made.

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