“Each of us simply makes an illusion of the world, a poetic, sentimental, joyous, melancholic, dirty, or lugubrious illusion according to our natures.” –Guy De Maupassant
A while ago in the office I stopped to wash up. In the trash were remnants of recently disposed coffee grounds from a French Press. Its tendrils spread across a napkin in beautiful order; the water and dirt settling into position before eventually being removed to another plane of existence.
I watched the liquid settle. The trash shifted and in a blink was gone. The image trash once more. Nothing entirely significant…
When I was a boy I used to ride my bike a lot. Like many youngsters I typically had a lot of time on my hands and used it to explore; trains, playgrounds, various other communities to which trouble could be found.
One summer the main drag was shut down for construction; a dirt road for what seemed like an endless amount of time. I took my bike up and down the mounds of dirt like they were something more than the reality.
A dream time filled with all experience I could muster.
I’d look around.
See what was beneath my feet.
Dream of different happenings – a reality showing through when the light was just right.
There was not so much analysis. Not so much critic. Just imagination – illusion that made everything more interesting, made everything glitter with the mythology of its own place in time.
With age came the critic; came the analysis purporting to make my art better. Preparing my mind for understanding the under workings of creation.
In classrooms and amongst conversation raged the supposed control of all that would be, could be.
But, over time it put things out of balance, pushed things in and out of critical realms masquerading as harbingers of truth without the truths I sought ever fully realized or brought to present.
At times they came close. Some writers opened doors that truly changed things for me. But, I reached a point that felt too far removed; felt too distant from that which brought me life in the first place.
I started to push back; searched for the child I once knew who had so much fun imagining.
My feet took a walk in heavenly grass.
All day while the sky shone clear as glass.
My feet took a walk in heavenly grass,
All night while the lonesome stars rolled past.
Then my feet come down to walk on earth,
And my mother cried when she give me birth.
Now my feet walk far and my feet walk fast,
But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.
But they still got an itch for heavenly grass.
-Tennessee Williams (Heavenly Grass)
A plastic fork crushed just right on a back alley. A torn piece of paper from a book unknown. Incidental happenings requiring everything and nothing of my existence to be.
Things I’ve discovered walking around. Looking at the world. Attempting to limit the critic for an allowance of sheer experience.
Its fragility always gets me. The moment vanishing a beat later.
I always want to hold onto it. Take a picture. Grab whatever it is and bring it home. Sometimes I do. Other times my experience gets the better of me and I keep walking. To preserve, to attempt isolation in the moment, immediately changes it. Simplifies it in some way; turns it into something controlled. Something owned; something harbored.
And ultimately loses it. What is held cannot be what it was.
It loses its discovery. Loses its mystery. No longer is it about a specific moment in time in which one stumbled upon an artifact of life. Now it is about something. Says something.
Now the analysis begins its grubby business.
The fork in the road is imbibed with meaning; for why else should anyone besides you look at it out of time.
It’s an extension of life. An attempted immortality speaking to our designs to have our worth preserved; saved for a millennia; frozen for a later time when we might be better received.
And here I am, back from whence I came. Though, it’s different. There’s a better ebb and flow.
I realize the critic’s presence now from the beginning. To be is to critique. To age is to find its balance.
We are stuck between this world and another. Limited by our own limitations, but more and more infused with what our limitations should be. A desire for recognized importance overrides the act of living; overrides the simplicity of creation and all that a moment might present if allowed to vanish as quickly as it appears.
Significance requires insignificance. Presence requires absence.
It’s not about polls or audience response or money spent.
It’s about time. The art’s time and your time. The comingling of moments that inform meaning and experience and memory.
“You have to love Art for Art’s sake; otherwise, the humblest job is worth more.” –Gustave Flaubert
To live, to experience, is to art, is to be art; is to feel free, if only for a moment, from that which continues to say otherwise.