Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Art is Lonely and I Have to Work This Crap Out

All Art is Lonely.

What’s the worst part of being a writer? For one thing, it’s plain black letters on a plain white surface. You don’t know what it will look like until it’s bound or produced. You don’t know what it is saying or doing until someone else reads it or speaks it or reviews it. You know what the resonance in your own head, but what about the echoes in other minds? Unlike a painting, which has color and theme clearly stamped and finished and in your face, the written word is always a trembling possibility that may fall flat in a stranger’s hands.

All Art is lonely.

All arts have to deal with the idea of the future. Generations will see it differently. Translations into other languages will slightly bend the meaning. Like the translations of Pablo Neruda that do not flow as beautifully in English as in Spanish.  Plays will be performed in different ways, in different settings and ages, like Julius Caesar set in Nazi Germany. The great murals of the Depression often seem archaic now and the Communist Genre is a gentle joke in which we do not yet remember  why the workers are so shining and optimistic.

All Art is lonely.

Opening night parties for shows and exhibits are celebratory, but it’s also one of the few times when Artist and audience can touch. At the first theater I worked at in New York City, I wonder if my career wasn’t hurt because I had to get back to the suburbs and couldn’t stay out partying with the cast. And, I had to go from New Jersey to New York to work at 9 a.m., which also cut my nights short. I wasn’t the best raconteur or drunk and I wonder how much this truncated my career? And why, or why, did I permit depression to ground me for ten years. Ten years I could have done, something, anything more important than sitting.

All Art is lonely.

And that loneliness can get you in trouble. We are prone to delusions and fantasies to begin with. We tend to be needy and addictive. I declare undying love to a man I just met but he then declares undying love to someone he hasn’t even met yet. Game over! He goes me one better in both Art and Insanity, but that’s what Artists do. That’s why ears are sheared and heads go into ovens. I’m too modern to end up Vincent or Sylvia, but Lord, don’t I know why they did what they did both in Life and in Death...because all Art is lonely.

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