Sunday, September 28, 2008

Me, an "artist?"

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' 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


  1. oh jacob.

    and re the rest of your post.....

    i think that there are a lot of different "art." and a lot of different artists. sometimes i want to witness a finished product, the piece, whatever medium, the glistens like silver from all the shining.

    sometimes the process is the thing, it becomes almost more like theater than like the printed word.

    but i do think that that end-point has importance. somehow the circle isn't completed until the communication has been made.

    i just thought of that scene in close encounters where richard dreyfus is driven absolutely crazy until he gets 'it' absolutely right, even when he doesn't know what 'it' is!

    isn't all art like that. one *must* continue in the creation until it becomes 'itself.' before that no communication can happen, not even with the artist himself.

  2. We go back and forth, don't we... between commitment to the end and the process... which, in this \problematic political and economic point in time, throws everything in doubt... even our the our own existence... which is not an abstract idea...but... I mean... what will happen to our children? What will happen to our grandchildren? What do I have to say to them?

    ... throws me back to the process... not the end point. Because our only hope is to go on... to believe that if there is any aesthetic is about making the connection (as you do in your wonderful blug) between what was and what might be.... no end point.

    No end point... till nature herself declares the end.
    - Show quoted text -

  3. My dear Lotusgreen...everything you leave on your blog, everything you write... is an invitation to respond and engage.

    It's your openness to your subject, and open-ended exploration of what interests you that makes what you do quote-unquote "art"...the real thing.

    The moment you would have it all solved, all the answers... well, you know... and every endpoint... if it's real... isn't it but an invitation to find the next starting point? Where it leads to?

    Death is the endpoint. Art is about process... because art is about life.

  4. BTW... I think the mashed potato scene is maybe the best, the most profound visual metaphor for what any artist does ... and how you have to go about it.

  5. Not the whole point, but certainly a part of it, I owe indirectly to CAConrad of Philly Sound... that those very things that wake me in the middle of the night, horrified by all manner of things I would like to erase from my life... that most... certainly not all... but many, are things I should not seek to erase, but to affirm. Not as endpoints for sure... but as points in the process. And if I submitted... succeeded in erasing them... I would be frozen in place.

    So the panic, the waking terror... is not about ridding myself of those memories... but using them to create the next step... we are never finished products, and the greatest works of art tell us exactly that! If we only pay attention...

    The greatest works of art are ALWAYS in progress

  6. i've always been drawn to a sort-of periodic form of art

  7. Wow. Thought provoking. Thanks.

    I'll come back for more of you.


  8. YourFireAnt

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