I Lust for Content
I told the writing group that all my writing had been created during group writing practices. This, I said, has been going on for over ten years, now, as my lust for improvement continues. Currently, I’m paying attention to other forms of writing. Last night, or rather early this moring, 3:00 a.m. to be exact, I was at the computer typing as Johnny read to me from the four page paper he wrote on Brave New World. He had waited, as always, to the last minute. I was pleasurably surprised at what he had written. It was a mirror, a simulucrum, the thin line between art and reality. What we was writing about was not different that who he was. I faced my own reality of struggle. While I do agree with the awareness of the conditioning workers through eductation, I also am conscious of my own struggle to let go. It’s walking both sides of the fence. You don’t want to support your children in dropping out until you know that it is a decision they have embodied fully, not just a passing reactive stance. To embody is difficult to identify.
I noticed a thrill in Johnny, a slight flutter, only a mother could perceive when he became aware that his paper was not only complete, he was proud. This was a first time occurrence for him regarding writing. When I had printed out my own essay, The Garden Girls as Perfomative Text with an emphasis on being able to contextualize one’s work, I too was momentarily thrilled to see ideas I had embodied were so effortlessly applied to the page.
“What do you mean by context?” Larry asked me during our usual early morning breadfast conversation about life.
“Being able to talk about what you are doing in your work,” I answered. In this competitive world, if you want people to take your work seriously, you have to be able to tell them, in a way they can understand, what your are writing about.
“I know, I know,” I said, “many artists want their work to speak for itself. However, it is not art unless you share it. At the moment of sharing it is open to interpretation and, while we are always interested in varied interpretations, when the work is critiqued, meaning interpretation and analysis are written that is the meaning that will go down in history as to who you are and what you and your work is about. You too must be able to contextualize your work in order to maintain open dialogue.
As I lust for improvement I lust for context. As a discipline I have given up excessive talking and superfluous activities. I have claimed my place at the computer where ideas are placed as soon as they occur, and when my back and eyes are exhausted I move to my silk, my paint, my bookmaking. Yesterday I continued cleaning my room and my desk. Could I really have a desk not cluttered? Could I really handle paper only once and pay my bills upon arrival?
In Anne Fadiman’s essay Mail, she reveals the ritual her father had with mail. How he waited for the mail to come, peered through binoculars from his office window watching for the mailbox at the bottom of the hill to fill. Making the ritualistic journey down, then back up the hill, arms stuffed, was his daily routine. He piled the mail on his desk, then proceeded to go thought it systematically, answering all the letters, paying all the bills. This was his job. This is what he did.
If I forgo the meaningless dialogue, the rehashing of mundane, melodramatic life stories, they could be put to better use in making art and time to sit at my desk might reveal itself. My desk would become the same as May Sarton’s desk where she not only sat and wrote, she contextualized about sitting and writing.