Friday, August 24, 2012

Original Spin


There were times during your earlier years, say your twenties and thirties, where it occurred to you how original you were.  Things such as falling in love, becoming a writer, having friends who were gifted musicians, and working in publishing were helpful factors convincing you of the essential error of your earlier thoughts. 

Then, as such things will evolve, you spent an enormous amount of time fretting over the absolute lack of any originality within your immediate being and your study.  Back before such landing sites as the Internet, you were filling page after page in journal after journal with laments and dirges about A) the earlier hubris in considering yourself owner of any measure of originality and B) your awareness of how studied you were in your derivative nature.

This took you into your forties, whereupon the accidents that got you caught up in publishing from what you considered the wrong side—the editorial side--of the desk catapulted you into teaching, whereupon what you’d thought to have been a decent education revealed itself to have the same thickness and consistency of cafeteria peanut butter.

You were literally too busy preparing for students to worry any longer about originality.

The drop of water you were (and are) came to terms with the ocean to the point where you believe there are still wide avenues of discovery in many if not all areas where discovery is possible.  However, with that in mind, you’re also of the opinion that comparatively little truly original thinking is done on a day-to-day basis.

This is by no means to let yourself off the hook.  You believe you’d enjoy thinking and implementing things of a truly visionary and original nature.  You also believe there is a greater opportunity for originality than you’d supposed in the ordinary, dare you use the word quotidian?

The trick of presentation is in point of view.  Any person has a shot at a fresh, insightful point of view, provided the person can manage to quiet down the other interior voices clamoring for attention.  Some of these voices rank high in well-meaning intent.  With the exception of your mother tending to warn you from time to time about being careful, she was in her lifetime, content to have her say then support your choice of action.  Your father kept it simple.  Whatever you want to be, he said, be a good one.  Thus their voices go into the cheering section. 

There are a number of voices coming from the opposing team stands.  You’re happy to acknowledge most of these voices are component parts of you as opposed to the few carpetbaggers from your education and cultural associations.  With focus and ongoing discipline, you have managed to develop and exercise a narrative voice you admire and trust.

The more you feed and listen to this narrative voice, and the more you exercise it, allow it to develop opinions it can support, the greater the likelihood you will find something fresh to say about something that appears ordinary, perhaps even to the point of cliché.

Get on the best possible terms with your process, then use it to redesign the portions of the universe that interest you to the point where your designs work in harmony with the music and art and technology of the men and women about you.

Originality is every bit as much about what you do with the elements about you as it is about the invention of new elements.  Originality is you way of decorating the rooms of your inner life with the designs and placements that welcome you every time your eye registers their presence, every time your ears take in their cadences and pulses, every time your feelings resonate to their music.

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