Sunday, March 6, 2011

the difference between the two?

There's a line in a Paul Simon song - 'and sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears.' It gets me thinking lately, about the places where art and life intersect, and the purposes of creating visual work, compared to the purposes of writing. And particularly, blogging.

I haven't been able to put my feelings into words terribly well lately, in fact feel impatient with the notion. What's the point? Who gives a damn? Instead, I'm collaging and drawing quite a lot in the Japanese sketchbook (Moleskine) -- on the bus, during meetings, on the train, at the family reunion. Words come through there too, in places, but they are happily buried amongst images and textures. I lay them down, tear them up, lay them down again, until the page looks like a rotting billboard. That's more like it. That's the world I see, the one I live in. Not a place where feelings can be articulated in a meaningful way.

I will see friends and coworkers this week, they will say "How are you today?" and "How was your weekend?" As I lay in bed (terribly tired, sore neck, etc) this evening while the boys watched a movie, I thought about how I struggle to answer those most basic everyday inquiries. I know darned well most folks aren't looking for anything deeply personal in response, it's just polite exchange with people who care in a general sort of way. But I'll see a few friends with whom I feel a real bond and I wonder if I'll take advantage of the opportunity to disclose something really authentic, or if I'll just waste another moment of relationship?

Most of my friends, if they read this, would say Who cares? It's not that important to be truthful every moment of the day. Even if you don't tell the truth about your feelings, the Fate of the Free World doesn't depend on this. If you are not in crisis and are merely struggling for a handle on things, well, so are we all.

And they'd be right.

What's the difference between expressing myself with images and doing it with words? Besides the obvious.

Images reveal my feelings to me gradually. I don't like to sketch from life much, preferring to pull abstract pieces together to form juxtapositions rather than sentences. A sentence almost always requires a point, a fact, if not a revelation. But an image suggests, in this case. An image contains within it infinite space. Space in which to see something beautiful, that I can associate with my Self without feeling vain; or space in which to see something ugly, and own it or confront it. The blog requires a degree of certitude, without which the writing feels pointless and lame. Not so an image.

The other thing, speaking from the heart probably shouldn't be a new story every week. I know someone whose heart is constantly on the move -- who said something like, "I claw my way out of the blazing wreckage of one relationship, and into the blazing wreckage of the next one." These days we talk about hard times and antidepressants a lot.

An image, unlike a blog, promises nothing in advance. You can take it or leave it.

But here goes: I balance emptiness with gratitude each day. I yearn foolishly for what I can't have. I try to say things that are helpful, or at least not hurtful, and I hope I'm doing my job as well as I can. I don't know if there's anything unique or significant about any of it. I don't know why we go on sleeping and waking, sometimes, except that this is living and this is the only life we get.


Ep said...

That you have returned to your precious visual arts delights me, that it was prompted by feeling the way that you do is sad, but if it takes care of your feelings, gives them a home to come to, I am glad for you. I always enjoy seeing what you're making, even though I may not understand it - though your description might help.

Clarence said...

I was standing in a group of parents from my son's school on Saturday. They were talking about a story they heard about doodling. It reminded me that in the past, I had been a doodler of words. It's what I did when I had to say something, but never knew anything, had certitude--or at least the confidence of what I was thinking, so I doodled words, hoping no one would be able to see, but secretly hoping they would look and maybe figure out something.

Last week, my blog entry was bold in that it was about not knowing what to say. I made an excuse--and excuse for being so uncertain. I still had to write.