Wednesday, August 20, 2008

FUCKIN' MAKE ART

The greatest challenge in my artistic life is reconciling my passion for several disciplines. And they are indeed passions. I practise them with equal care and fervour, the same way a mother cares for her children. I find the term "dilettante" to be dismissive; I hate the phrase "jack of all trades, master of none". Why can't one be jack of all trades, master of all? Luckily for me, no one has called me to my face a dilettante or jack. As befits my argument, I admit that I have no hobbies.

A friend told me that I'd develop slower. His words shook me. Ruined my night. Resonated deeply to the point that I'm recalling his words two years after he spoke. So I started becoming acutely aware of the fact that Beckett wrote Godot in his mid-forties and Haneke made his first feature film in his mid-late-forties. But the point isn't speed -- the point is making work of value. I'm glad I didn't choke on my vomit or plunge one syringe too many at 27 because frankly, I'm not done yet. I've learned to exercise immense patience.

How can one forsake an art in service of another? I've heard different opinions regarding specialisation versus multi-discipline, and arguments for both poles are soundly founded. But I don't believe that I necessarily have to stop writing plays so that I could be a better filmmaker, or stop making films so that I could be a better painter... that's lobotomy. I believe that someone with my sensibilities benefits from practising several disciplines. One art informs the other. One art enriches the other. After all, I'd rather contribute and be remembered as an Artist than only Writer or Filmmaker or Painter (and I can't believe I just publicly declared such a wank statement but this blogging stuff is still new to me and you're probably not gonna read this blog anyway so what the fuck, fuck). I'm interested in the idea of a "complete" artist who can communicate with variety and comprehensiveness. I do suspect that an artist who does EVERYTHING could possibly be spread too thin, which is why I don't make music. I wish I could. I can't. Which makes me exceedingly sad. (But I do make non-music, which is a project I'll tell you about next time).

I'm reminded of pandas. Pandas are usually born as twins and the mother has only enough attention and resources to care for one, so the other one dies. That's one reason why pandas are near extinction. Although one baby panda will be nurtured to the hopeful point of reproducing, the species as a whole is vanishing partly due to the specialisation of the mother. I think an artist with multi-disciplinary abilities would suffer tremendously if she/he severs one discipline. Chop, off goes the lobe.

I'm reminded of eggs. Imagine how shitty life would be if you decided to eat nothing but eggs all your life. You'd become an egg specialist and probably know how to express yourself through eggs better than anyone else, but man... that's a shit life. Not that Writers and Filmmakers and Painters and Dancers and Violists have a shitty life -- not at all -- but in the one life I have, I find happiness through diversity. I wouldn't want to eat nothing but eggs. I'm actually totally keen on eating crickets next.

I envy those who commit themselves to only one discipline. I admire their singular focus and the fruit their focus bears. But I also admire the multi-disciplinary artists whose varied works bear a cornucopia. Perhaps I sound ambivalent, but that's because this is the greatest challenge in my artistic life and who the fuck has it all figured out at the age of not-yet-thirty? Some artists had it all figured out at 27 but they were lucky and deluded. There is one thing I utterly believe to my very fibre, and this I do have figured out: Just make art. Just fucking make art. Let other people try to figure you out.

Ingmar Bergman
Miranda July
Patti Smith
David Byrne
Andy Warhol
Atom Egoyan
Vincent Gallo
Julian Schnabel
Joni Mitchell
Leonard Cohen
Don McKellar
Douglas Coupland
Robert LePage
Daniel McIvor
Bob Fosse
Bill T. Jones
Michael Snow
Vaclav Havel
Puff Daddy
Tyler Perry
Saul Williams
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Hal Hartley
Sam Shepard
Anton Chekhov
Sook-Yin Lee
Ann-Marie MacDonald
Susan Sontag
Henry Rollins
John Mighton
Vincent Lam
Caribou
Michael Ignatieff
Mathieu Kassovitz
Ethan Hawke
Crispin Hellion Glover
John Cassavetes
David Mamet
Wallace Shawn
Peter Greenaway
Mike Leigh
Benjamin Franklin
Michelangelo
Leonardo DaVinci

2 comments:

Rich said...

Pandas are dang lazy.

Katie said...

Joni Mitchell refers to her two disciplines as "crop-rotation". You have to let the soil of one art form rest for a while, cultivate another, let that one rest, go back to the first, and so on. Makes sense to me.

And I DID read your blog, Norman. So there.