Friday, December 20, 2013

The Beauty of Excellence and Voluntarism

Drawing by the author, done in art school from a live model, c.1979

Greetings rebels to King George and curious others...
What is it that brings tears of Joy to your eyes? Is it finding out you bought a winning lottery ticket? Hearing a favorite piece of movie music? Reading about a pivotal moment in history?

It happened to me once again last night, while watching an ad on YouTube - for a Volvo truck, of all things - and today I decided to figure out why.

Not surprisingly I’d searched for that particular Volvo original short after watching something else: the so-called Chuck Norris parody of Jean Claude Van Damme’s truck stunt. The computer created Chuck-short featured a retro Ken-doll Norris, of course in a cowboy hat. His beard looked sprayed-on and his face was as smooth as a 15-year-old’s. Yes, it was laugh out loud clever.

Then I tracked down the Van Damme ad (linked above). And was mesmerized. And teared up, like I said.

And now, a day later, I’m absolutely convinced that it hasn’t been seen by 62 million people. Nope, I’m betting it’s more like 6.2 - 12.4 million and like me, they’ve watched it five-to-ten times each.

Mesmerized - from the opening seconds onwards - by the haunting music of Enya…

Held by the still appealing though undeniably weathered face and poignant voice-over from Van Damme…

Amazed by this one man’s steely calm and still-unflagging athleticism…and lastly…

Wowed by the sheer beauty of the rising sun gleaming off the twin Volvo machines which so ably co-star with a real-life action hero. For what courage it must take to attempt such a stunt!

So…to the more subtle difference between the Chuck Norris parody and this original, and what I believe makes the former a video that elicits a chuckle and a grin and Van Damme’s one that earns a joyful tearing up and a lasting inward glow.

Aside from the fact the Norris video is fake, it is dependent on a show of State Force, albeit force wrapped not in the proverbial velvet-glove, rather wrapped in Christmas lights and pretty signal flares. Sure “Norris” also straddles two mighty machines, which for all I know could be held aloft by Volvo engines. But these machines are war birds of some sort, painted grey or grey-blue (and is it just me or does the one whose nose we see look to be smiling?). The planes and the soldier-heroes this video’s splitting stunt man singlehandedly holds aloft are State-trained, then retained, and finally, dispatched by the State for one purpose only: to do harm to someone or something it has deemed its enemy. In other words, They Live to Destroy. Not only that, but they do all this by means of stolen property, tax-dollars taken at gunpoint, albeit implied-gunpoint, by your friends and mine, the I.R.S.

Now consider the real ad.

Think of how that one-minute and seventeen-seconds came to be and think of what it embodies.

It’s actually very simple. There were no threats, no real or implied force; just a boat load of FREE CHOICES. Men freely choosing to develop excellent skills…and then businesses bringing those skilled men together with the raw-materials upon which they could apply their skills.

Together voluntarily, cooperatively, Volvo and Van Damme worked to create an excellent synergistic Physical-plus-Performance “product.” Volvo engineers voluntarily traded their time to design and refine the machines Van Damme was then carried atop; Van Damme himself voluntarily used his physical being; traded his time to train hard - not merely for this stunt, but to maintain his fitness over all these years - and then he voluntarily got up and stood on those magnificent truck’s mirrors, and was driven flawlessly - backwards and timed to perfection - into the sunrise.

Freedom to create Excellence. What could be more beautiful or more joyful?

Until next time, Keep Rebelling and keep creating, in whatever medium YOUR talents and skills are most excellently utilized!

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