Ask Dr. Druid . Day 21
The Part of Art .. 1
This piece will read best for you
if you read it with your mouth as if out loud
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What part does art play in solving the quantum equations of the next human leap into a kinder destiny?
Art is as important as air in this glory of attentions, your life. Art is the brandy of attentions, distilled, golden, intoxicating. Among Dr. Druid’s subversive and blatant goals is the inoculation of your heart with art, with the haunting, daunting necessity of art. Art ain’t a luxury, for other people. I’m not saying artists cannot be belligerent morons who monger war and gigagreed, but 99% of art is a start away from being willing to do killing. Art can soak up & transmogrify the energies people otherwise insanely use to hate and to obliterate.
As Lord Byron would have it, “We thus dilate our spirits to the size of what we contemplate.” I add that we also distill our spirits to the intensity of the tiny glory we contemplate, say an ant or a grassblade.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /> Part of the point is to do as much art as you can and stay hinged. (The temptation is to dali or to bosch and to pterodactyl into the paisley skies of a benign madness.)
One of the rottenest and stupidest things is that people have attached success in art to frilthy lucre. Pifffle. Start your damn art today and be awful at it in the beginning. Bloody persevere. Eventually you get better. (I sometimes think that everyone should have an art that no one will ever see so they can just putter happily making mudpies in it and not worry what the spouse or the neighbor or any bloody anybody will say. People are so horrifically judgmental. Please allow yourself to be in kindergarten.)
The tender bud of creativity is snuffed out by other people’s Idiot Perfectionist, and your own. Not that they have ever even probably done any foray into the forests of art. Or maybe you’ve got them in the one they have a knack for. They should be required to try something they ain’t so handy at. (Like baseball players trying to play golf. Or in a class of 7th & 8th graders I had 38 years ago – all the language-kids wrote this riveting prose and when they read their stories out loud, the non-verbal shrank back into their shells. There was this kid in the fartherest away back corner who doodled fabulous flame-burning cars all day. I had the inspiration to have everyone illustrate their stories. From being the helpless worst, this kid was the fabulous best. When I stood with him showing his brilliant drawings at the front of the class, everyone got a glimpse of how we are all gifted and all clumsy.) I always honor most the folks who lurch out of their comfort zone and take that dangerous chance on the brave awkwardness of actually learning something entirely new.
I will give more evidence along our way, but I know, as a teacher and as a learner, everyone can learn everything. Drawing was my one exception. And Dear Rafaello in one weekend tricked me into my drawing brain and there is my running shoe, laces, holes and all still on a page to prove that anybody can learn anything. Now I didn’t stick with that trick, but I know it’s there. And you can be tricked by a nifty teacher or your nifty self into learning anything if you just unclench your brain and say, “By Golly, I will kindergartenilly persevere until I figure this out, tra la la.” It may take a long time, but you can get Very Very Good.
When I finally figured out how to teach writing, every single kid ended up writing killer stuff. Because I learned how to trick them into being real, not derivative. There was one kid who wrote about stereo components every night. I couldn’t wait for the next installment. Of course you can’t give a damn about grammar and spelling in the early going – any clod can fix that. What you want is their reality on the page, not yours – their passion for stereo components. (Once you hook them on the juice of the Zone, you can rather easily persuade them into the usefulness of grammar. The other way around never gets to zeal.)
To remind you to begin, renew, or sustain your journal/log or whatever other art you pursue: there only a few tricks to learning to write. First, you need to write every day. Make a vow. Put the whole date. (I have boxes of stuff that are dated May 6 or March 15. When I wrote it, I knew what year. Uhh, but now I have no clue. So 03.15.07 is good. I like to put 03.15.07 sunmon 2:14am. The date is necessary. The rest is idiosyncratic.) Your vow is to write something every day even if it’s “I’m too darn tired to write.” I have never actually written that though in my vow I have permission to.
Now I’ve done this vow for about 30 years so I ought to have it down. (Because I write allegorical philosophy, I wanted to make sure what I was saying would turn out to be true in a life before I foisted it on the public. I’m in a foisting mode now at last.)
So, write every day. And never write when you can’t write: If you can’t write it down, don’t think it. You’ll never get the pristine phrasing back. When I’m out and about, I’ll jot down a phrase or two, but I’ve trained myself not to indulge in turning the faucet on. I wait until I’m at a page or computer screen. Of course I often go out to write. That’s fine. I’m talking about when you’re driving or walking with no notebook. Observe. Don’t write in your head. Jotting is OK, but not full-fledged open the flood gates.
You write every day. You don’t write when you can write it down.
Some days you write literature. Some days you write glorified shopping lists. It’s the keeping faith with the Muse that counts. She (or he) ruthlessly believes in your honoring the relationship. You will be rewarded for keeping faith. This is a grail quest and you gotta be pure of heart. You don’t have to be smart or a natural sentence-slinger in the beginning. You do have to keep faith.
Write only for yourself and the Muse. Your horrid friends or family seldom have anything useful to say. You’ll find your writing friends along the way, and they only whisper sweet somethings into your ear. Say what you like about someone’s work and elsewise Shut Up. You’d be amazed at how many ‘friends’ read with a machete and think they’re being ‘helpful.’ Oh Gods, ugh.
Then, the best proofreading and editing you can do of your stuff is to read it out loud to yourself. Then you’ll see where it doesn’t work.
Remember, editing is easy. Flame for ink, ice for ink, blood for ink – that’s the trick.
more The Part of Art .. Hie thee
I want to tell you about the kilim exhibit. Some years ago in the De Young Museum, I think. I wandered through the immense marbled halls hung with remarkable kilim or ‘Turkish rugs.’ The work, the dedication. They were beautiful. They were compelling. Their intricate symmetry spoke of a holy determination to honor God. Everything had to be tended — the sheep, the thread, the dyes, the wood of the loom. The apprentice becomes the master. How many moons rose gold and set silver? The songs chanted. The water fetched in a battered wooden bucket after morning prayers. The rugs appeared in a powerful and obedient symmetry.
There were rugs more than 700 years old. Some men worked on cathedrals. Some men worked on kilim. Honor was paid to the Creator.
After more than an hour of rapt contemplation, I came around a corner and saw yet another kilim. It hit me with such a shock, like I’d been struck by lightning — seared like that. From the 14th century, there like a message straight to the secret center of my heart was this magical, astonishing, asymmetric kilim. It was wildly celebratory, and broke all the rules. I felt a surge of joy so deep and fierce I wasn’t sure I could live past that very moment. Yes, oh yes, one could be different. I was not ever completely alone again.
S/he dared. I dared. As long as we sought as much beauty as we could stand, it was wonderful. Tears just ran silently down my face in greeting, in gladness. People swarmed thru the galleries, but somehow I was alone around this corner as if the universe wanted to grant me this special audience with this kindred spirit from the deep past.
Hie thee to a museum. You will always be changed, rearranged, usefully deranged.
+ Please remember the portable wisdom of my hypnotism teacher, Dobson: “Respond only to positive suggestion from any source . . . including yourself.”
+ hinged vs unhinged ..
+ If you do a google image search on Dali and Hieronymus Bosch, you'll see the sublime slide into the surreal.
+ images in excerpt & slice, anthony mccall (If you live near SF & you see this before 09.28.07, go to sfmoma & see mccall’s stupendous interactive installation You & I, Horizontal on floor 4. You’ll always remember it utterly.)
+ If you don't live near any museum, haul out a huge art book from your library and root thru it.
Ask Dr. Druid, 66 Days from Lead to Gold, Secrets of Alchemy You Can Use, a druid shaman’s playbook .. Intro; Prologue; Day 1; Days 2 & 3; Day 4; Day 5; Day 6; Day 7; Day 8; Day 9; Day 10; Day 11; Day 12; Day 13; Day 14; day 15 Review 2; Day 16; Day 17; Day 18; Day 19; Day 20; Day 21; Day 22; Day 23; Day 24; Day 25; Day 26; Day 27; Day 28; Day 29;
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the education-obsessed world begins today with you ..
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