Friday, February 24, 2012
Science -- Oldie But A Goodie
Part of me envies the hard sciences their certainty and limitations. I love that they can support the idea of a "right" answer. I know science is complicated and creative, too, and it's a fault that a lot of us have thinking science is somehow better founded than any other established and tested method or philosophy. But when you're writing and pulling threads and revising, who doesn't long for the all-knowing-reader who can look at what you've wrought and say, "yes, that's it. That's exactly what it needs to be. You've got it. Now move on."
Instead, the writer and reader occupy the same mind and imagination. They rarely agree and they never shut up, and each has its own list of "wouldn't it be great if--" changes they'd ideally like to make, given the time, perspective and sleep. Just as every artist works within a frame of some kind, artists desperately needs a frame, something to stop them from creating into madness. Self-expression is great, and really super fun, but at the end of the day or project, no matter how self-involved or self-deprecating the creator, we all really want an outside audience for the things we make. "For me, it's all about the music, man." Hooey! It's all about the music connecting people. If it doesn't do that, or if no one ever hears it and is affected by it, there is no "all about," there's just a tree falling in the woods making, we expect, some sound.
Part of it is certainly reality-check territory. "Is this [insert good, funny, scary, romantic, moving, understandable, inspired] or am I nuts?"
The "am I nuts" part of the question is really what that call for criticism or approval is all about, and it's much broader plea than you might thing. It's not really a question of sanity but of group identity. "Am I reading this right?" might as well be, "am I human, too?" because that's the crux of the anxiety. You tap your own experience, memories, feelings to find the building-blocks to create with, and that gets you to a certain albeit predictable point.
If you're brave and really dig deep, you discover the you under the you, that primal identity that would have made you who you are no matter how or where or with whom your life had played out. If you have the courage to reach that within yourself, you will have the root for anything you want to express or create, and it will matter almost universally to everyone who encounters it, because it will resonate so thoroughly with their primal selves, too. But if you're prone to cowardice and fears of censure, you dig sideways. You might think you're deep when all you do is squirrel around, painting warped windows into your personal psychoses.
Boy it stings when the answer comes back, "no, that's just you. Creep."
And back in the drawer it goes.