Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dump Literature in Review

I found a great Tom Robbins novel at the dump recently: Skinny Legs and All. Lots to think about there regarding the creation of art, like when Boomer asks, "How do people go about making pieces of art?" and Ellen Cherry replies, "Artists hardly ever start out to make significant art. And if they do, it's usually a flop. . . Maybe thay do set out to make something significant, in a roundabout sort of way, but its not like setting out to make something practical or useful. For one thing, it's more like play than work. On the other hand, they don't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. The good ones make art because they have to make it--even though they probably won't understand why until after it's already made."

"But how do they know what to make?" Boomer asks. And Ellen Cherry says: "Listen, it's really pretty simple. If there's a thing, a scene, maybe, an image that you want to see real bad, that you need to see but it doesn't exist in the world around you, at least not in the form that you envision, then you create it so that you can look at it and have it around, or show it to other people who wouldn't have imagined it because they perceive reality in a more narrow, predictable way. And that's it. That's all an artist does."

Earlier on, she realizes: ". . . a person has not only perceptions but a will to perceive, not only a capacity to observe the world but a capacity to alter his or her observation of it--which, in the end, is the capacity to alter the world, itself. Those people who recognize that the imagination is reality's master, we call 'sages,' and those who act upon it, we call 'artists'. . . Or 'lunatics'."

". . . but the true idiot is distinguished from the 'idiot' sage or 'idiot' artist by his or her lack of control. The idiot's twisted perceptions of the world are not voluntarily or imaginatively altered, they are merely faulty. Lunatics are at the mercy of misunderstool and unmanageable perceptions. When it comes to their reality, artists call the shots."

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