This is confessional time as I sit here insomniacally pounding out words without meaning. This is one of those stream-of-consciousness rhythms that the author does not know exactly where it will go. It is a jumble, a maze, the jigsaw puzzle of language trying to find the right place for the correct word and join all the pieces together into an angelic song. This is the arrogance of writers or artists of any kind. We believe that we can improve reality with a throwaway instinct for beauty.
I will admit that it has long been my ambition to be an artist, with all of the implied negativity that goes with such baggage. I see words as things of beauty, as a creation of new life. Writers have a God complex. We invent characters that do as we say. We are God. We are gods of the universe. And remember: In the beginning there was The Word.
But art–true art–takes no consideration of the time or the place or the feelings of others. Art is an interior creation, something that is an obsession, a private moment of honesty that will eventually be presented to the world with varying degrees of understanding or acknowledgment.
I consider writing to be a combination of mathematics and sculpting. Language is very much a mathematical construct, serving a logistical purpose to allow different people to understand the needs, wants and desires of both themselves and others. It is a grid of different meanings and is perhaps the greatest creation of primitive man. This is the quest that a writer undertakes, to explain all the conflict and come to a conclusion–and I will admit that it is at first for myself. If I initiated a project with the intention of speaking for others the honesty of the work would wither and the meaning would fall apart.
The sculpting is the true art form of writing. Anyone can tell a story, can relate certain characters and people, and have varying degrees of success in articulating something that may or may not have happened. Think about friendly drunks laughing at a bar. They tell stories with exaggerations and opinions and sometimes they get every person around them laughing. This person is a good story teller. This is the life of the party.
The craft of writing goes beyond just the story, the point A to point C style of narrative that dominates most of the top bestsellers. But art, no. You have to hone that piece, work it over and over again into fifth and sixth and sometimes even thirty-ninth drafts. There is a quest for perfection in this goal–like a painter attempting to recreate true life or a musician composing an anthem for all mankind. This is the peak, the mountaintop, the ultimate goal of the writer as artist. They want to undercover secrets and shine a new light on those private places where we hide and deny everything we know.
All of these things are visual arts. Sometimes, when we are young mostly, we might consider the question of whether you would prefer to be blind or deaf if you had to be one. Of course I would choose deafness in this loud, endlessly interrupted world. This is not to say that it is anything I may want, but between absolute silence and the inability to see I find no comparison. Without vision I couldn’t read, couldn’t type, couldn’t watch the sun rise or fall or go to a museum and see another people’s interpretation of the world. In blindness all there really is over deafness is the music. Even language–braille–a sequence of dashes and dots like a submarine captain going down to the bottom of the ocean and screaming SOS, is nothing compared to sign language, which is filled with the gesture of emotion. You can truly look inside another person when they speak to you with their hands. The deep nuance, the emotion of gestures gives you perhaps an even deeper insight into the meaning of someone’s soul than the mask and blather of their talking.
I don’t know what I intended to say at the start of this ramble on art and meaning. It was all about creation and the self-deception at the end. Art is a justification to keep on trying, and in that sense it is a wonderful thing. You try to create perfection, to redesign the Sistine Chapel and tell Michelangelo that he is out of touch with the way things are today. It is a selfish goal to one-up everybody else because it is finally true, what they say. There is no longer anything new. We are alone, all alone in a rapid, humming future where we try to make sense of things and only find static.