Why the "" around "Artist?"
I would like to claim modesty. Aw gee whiz... me? An artist?
I grew up--was raised to a state of awareness by artists, living and dead--from mothers, uncles, siblings--all the way back to those strange stick figures who dabbed in charcoal and ocher by lamplight with marvelous precision a catalog of animals their contemporaries were, at that very instant in time, engaged in exterminating. To claim a place in the pursuit of the arts is not a claim to a special class, let alone, to genius. No. What bothers me is the class of "art" itself.
As impossible to define as "religion."
As impossible to define as what it means to be "human."
This is the driving question in my novel, The Magic Slate.
I've become aware of something... of more than a few somethings... since beginning this blog.
This is writing of another kind. I make no pretence to making "art"... though I see those, like Lotusgreen of Japonisme... who seems incapable of doing anything that isn't...art... whatever that is.
As naturally as breathing.
And she does it in full view...
One of the things I've become aware of: that what I do in the realm of "art"... ( a category I don't trust even exists... ) I do in private. Turning my efforts over and over.
A short story, Godzilla's Eye, of some 5,00 words... I have more than 500 pages of drafts that went into that throw-away effort. Nice that the Laurel Review thought to publish it... but who reads these little reviews? A few dozen?
I spent almost a year on this story. Not all my writing is that labored--but the point here is the element of privacy: privacy of composition. And my thought is... that the "art" is not in, maybe never in, the end "product."
In a sense: art does not exist--not as the "product."
Here, I use the quotes as defense against the common associations with the word... ."product."
Think Sarah Palin....
A person perfectly willing to turn herself into pure product... and what does that bode for the rest of us, should she gain real power? What are we to become in her eyes?
Is this what I mistrust? Is this why I place quotes around the word, "art?"
If what you see, hear, feel think.... respond to, in a work of art, is about nothing but the finished "product"... you have missed. Not a part. But everything.
The finished work is not "art." It's the best possible suggestion the artist could come up with to what really matters. Suggestion. Not an end point, but an invitation back into the process. An invitation to an endless conversation carrying us forward. Why I see the best critics, not as enemies, but as allies, as co-conspirators. And why I am so disturbed by end-point critics--critics of the "final product," whether the more sophisticated and polished sort--Woods, or the thinly disguised politicized propagandists like Myers.
So I re-write my posts. Edit on line. What matters... is process. And in process...we are all participants.
And yet I recoil... I post and delete...
To act with others, before others, unleashes unpredictable reactions.
To do that... to be able to do that... is the very definition of Trust.
As opposed to, manipulating every expression as means to convert the "other" to your side (Rove. Borg)
I'm thinking... we need more, not less "risk."
Compose in public.
So I've been writing this poem... and revising it, and revising... up front. The Storm Chaser.
I've been doing this with my posts for months...then waking in a panic and deleting them.
So what... if what matters is PROCESS.
We need a new form of critique... a criticism of process. Which is going to be NOTHING like those workshops-- churn out more of the same bullshit fellowship funded jerkoff bullshit.
In a sense... nothing new. A return to engagement. Real encounter... where what matters is the process, the journey...
Encounter... is everything