Friday, June 13, 2008


Repetition of the craft, whether by practice, blogging, sketching, drawing, acting workshops, photographing, is the key to building the necessary muscle memory whereby artistry may be achieved.

Thousands of hours running scales, writing stories or journal entries, sketching, drawing, etc are not sufficient conditions for artistry to evolve but they are necessary conditions, without which the artist remains in place, does not grow, risks the atrophy of the muscles developed to date.

By means of this thoughtful repetition, this practice or invention or keeping notebooks or journals, the artist sheds the shells and skins of influences, takes on a new form, forges a personality that is the essence of function detrmining structure. In this manner the artist sheds the connective tissue with others he or she needs to have empathy and, for enough time to forge a sense of self, does so, becoming self with a capital S, a Self, still potentially a great friend, lover, mate, parent, colleague, but tangiby a Self that will try to change you if you don't watch out, try to argue you into his or her vision if you don't watch out.

It is damned lonely in there, having forged a landscape through which you move about, looking sifting through the detritus and middens and garbage, looking for artifacts from which you can concoct a poem or a story or a narrative or some interlinked concoction you give a name to. The loneliness comes at those very times when your own sense of your vision is weakest, needs reinventing or validation/ You take it down to the corner pub, toss back a few pale ales or petitte syrrah or simple plonk, emboldening yourself to reveal this vision of yours to the world. You are fortunate if, after a time, you wonder how you got to the floor and are now looking up toward the ceiling as if for instructions about how to get up. You are fortunate because you may never know if you were rendered into that supine position as a result of impact with someone's fist or from your ow wobbly center of gravity.

Over the years, ways of telling stories have evolved from sketches and drawings on cave walls to frescoes to poems written and performed to novels and short stories or lectures.

It is probably impossible to learn what happened before the Big Bang or, if it is possible, not in our life time. It is impossible to know answers to many of the existential questions that come our way, and it is even harder to know which of the Temptations or Sirens that surround us, want us to enlist in their causes will actually take us away from the answers we seek, answers we my have been on the cusp of knowing. I believe in science even though I don't have to science or at least a scientific approach to hypothesis and experimentation and peer review may lead to answers about a number of things governing the behavior of physical matter. Religion asks too little of me and provides too little; it is like the Christmas Cubs banks used to tout wherein one set aside a certain sum every week until the fortnight before Christmas, when you were rewarded with a set sum, It was not enough, however to believe you'd deposit the money every week, your belief had to be supported by actual performance.

A story is another matter. It nags at you until you listen and then it has you, dictates to you, presets the literary equivalent of steak knives and Styrofoam cooling containers. That doesn't mean you will finish it or that it will reveal anything to you if you do finish it, so you begin to wrestle with it until it tells you something, maybe not what there was before The Big Bang, but something--something you hadn't known, didn't even know you needed much less that you didn't even know you didn't have it.

Writing a story is like ordering one of those deluxe steak packages from Omaha, where the offer includes inducements, only these are not inducements you can eat--these are inducements that somehow the process will throw in a cutting board and a set of steak knives, or their equivalent, which is understanding.

No wonder you are lonely: you are standing around aware of something you had to work out for yourself, and now you know what it is, maybe. A little bit. And sure enough, you're going to head down to the corner pub and drink up enough courage to share it with the world, and end up on your ass, looking up at the ceiling as if waiting for instructions.

1 comment:

Lori Witzel said...

Lying somewhat dizzily on the floor, raising a glass to you and to the Glorious Loneliness.