Archive for July 7th, 2010

Art making is loaded with paradox.   Pops up in all these posts.  Here’s a biggie: fame.  You can’t draw, paint, write, compose or make anything in any medium unless you make it for yourself—to clarify your own feelings and thoughts.  What then?  What do you do with it once it’s done?  You send it out to the world.  Have to, can’t just stash it in the basement.  When you put it out there for others to react to, you hope it will be understood in some way.  Let’s just fast forward with this train of thought: you want fame.  But fame, as we all know in our celebrity crazy culture, is problematic.  It messes with your brain.  What you most love to do—draw, paint, compose, write, et al—is now affected, and infected, by this fame worm.

I’ve just recently discovered a writer, Javier Marias.  I must be the last person in the world to read this guy.  When I find an artist this original, I feel the urge to draw his/her face, as a sort of meditation.  I’m savoring Your Face Tomorrow, a novel that progresses by digressing, in which I came across this passage:

“…it isn’t what is said of us behind our backs which changes things—which transforms things inside ourselves—it is what someone with authority or armed with mere insistence tells us about ourselves to our face that reveals and explains and tempts us to believe.  It is the danger that stalks every artist or politician, or anyone whose work is subject to people’s opinions and interpretations.  If a film director, writer or musician begins to be described as a genius, a prodigy, a reinventor, a giant, they can all too easily and up thinking that it might be true.  They then become conscious of their own worth, and become afraid of disappointing or–which is even more ridiculous and nonsensical, but it can’t be put in any other way—of not living up to themselves, that is, to the people it turns out they were—or so others tell them, and as they now realize they are—in their previous exalted creations. “

And a little later, “There is nothing worse than looking for a meaning or believing there is one.  Or if there is one, even worse: believing that the meaning of something, even of the most trivial detail, could depend on us and on our actions, on our intention or our function, believing that there is such a thing as the will or fate, and even some complicated combination of the two.  Believing that we do not owe ourselves entirely to the most erratic and forgetful, rambling and crazy of chances, and that we should be expected to be consistent with what we said or did, yesterday or the day before.  Believing that we might contain in ourselves coherence and deliberation, as the artist believes is true of his work or the potentate of his decisions, but only once someone has persuaded them that this is so.”

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