My mouse has been double clicking erratically and confoundingly for about a week now, and other than exiting tabs unintentionally it hadn’t gotten me into too much trouble until it suddenly decided to post the stuff on my blog yesterday. Whoops!
I wasn’t even begun editing, and there were about fifty other things I wanted to say. The mouse had other ideas. It took the two raw ideas I had copy and pasted into the text and decided that was enough. I was shocked at the mechanical impertinence. How dare my mouse post something without my permission? Something with my name on it, something I had no intention of letting go of without radical and drastic overhaul?
But then the irony of it struck me. The two quotes themselves were lined up to talk about the inadequacy of intention for at least some of our creative expression, and how the tools of our process sometimes inform the essence of what gets ‘published’. How fortuitous that my mouse cooperated enough to let at least those ideas come to light!
Still, I felt bad for all the folks who get my posts via subscription. It must have seemed weird, even among the weirdness of my usual ravings. There are no take backs once its sent, and the explanation I later edited back in would never be seen by these recipients unless they came to the site itself. My apologies to you all for that confusion!
So what was I planning on talking about? The general theme I had been mulling had to do with the difference between expression as something that rides on the surface, that could have been different, that can be true or false, that can lie, and manifestation, which reflects something deeper and more permanent, more essential.
I’m not sure I have the right words for this discussion (yet), but it seemed worth talking about. The idea I had in mind was along the lines of whether helping a friend expresses our friendship or whether it manifests it. Helping seems to actually be what it means to be a friend. This is what friends do. The actions are not symbolic of something other but are in fact the thing itself. You manifest your friendship by doing this and that. Do you see what I’m getting at?
(Note, I am not saying that it is either/or, but that there is a difference worth noting. It seems that some things we express can count as manifestations, but that manifestations are more limited than expression by the constraints of its fundamental nature. We can ‘express’ things besides the truth, for instance, but there isn’t as much leeway in what we can manifest truly. And THAT was the reason I titled my previous post “Your art is a lie”…..)
Now think about that in terms of our creative expression. Is our art a manifestation, or is it simply an expression? In what cases is it one and in what is it the other?
Let me close with something I also read yesterday that may shed some light on what I am thinking. Its from a review of the new film about David Foster Wallace, and if you have the time you should read the whole thing. This is one of the parts I was struck by:
4. One thing that hit me as we watched the film was just how ordinary it all was: the movie, the treatment of the characters, the airport scenes, the car rental lots, the appetites temporarily satisfied with junk food, the outbursts and mumblings…. There is a scene in which Lipsky practically begs Wallace to admit he’s brilliant, and Wallace rebuffs him. Wallace values his “regular-guyness” not as an affectation but as a survival tactic, and as a sincere reality. This is a reality (and not just of being a writer) that we are reticent to admit or openly embrace: no one escapes the ordinariness of everyday life; no one escapes being regular. No one. Sure, there are moments (at widely different scales) of excitement, passion, genius, violence, and rage…there are inequities and injustices that are horrible and that we (hopefully) work to address or redress…. But these are all set against a profoundly mundane backdrop—really the overwhelming foreground—of ordinary life. Wallace’s writings wiggle into the ordinary, the regular, even when his topics occasionally appear charged or esoteric at first blush. But, too, writing is ordinary. It’s just a life, just a form of living life.
Things to consider, perhaps……
Make beauty real!