I was thinking about Rules, and about the creative endeavor, about where we’ve been and where we are and where we will go. I thought about those who came before, and those who are always remembered, and those who will be remembered only for their fifteen minutes. I wondered, who of those of us who live in this moment, the here and the now, will be most remembered twenty, thirty, forty, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now? Do we have the ability to create Classics in literature, music, art? Or have the molds been made and then placed behind thick glass to preserve them and we can only hope to find some tiny spare spot in an ever-expanding crowd of creativity?
There was a time before Rules. There was a time when writers, artists, architects, dancers, musicians, etc, made the rules, because they trod where no one else had ever been before. It’s difficult now to find the places where no one has been, which is why there are “The Classics,” and why we have those literary (and other creative) giants/icons who are held up as larger than life, their images on cups and t-shirts and postage stamps, their works examples for those who follow. One glance at an image and most know who and/or what that image represents–if not their complete works, then some part of those works or of them. One mention of a phrase and one knows who said it, and it is deemed brilliant, never to be touched again by another – right? Are we able to create our own new paths? Swathing the way through literary (or otherwise) forests? Are brilliant works and new paths simply swallowed by the glut of All That Out There Everywhere? This is BRILL–oh, wait, what’s this new thing it’s BRI–oh, wait! What’s that shiny thing over there, it’s BR–oh wait! Oh Wait! WHAT’S THAT OVER THERE?
Just as civilizations have been built and then built upon and built upon again and again, so it is with language and music and art. There was the creating of new ways. And now, we build upon those “ways” – we have rules we follow because they were established before us, and we build on those, and sometimes we throw them out, and sometimes we morph them, and sometimes we break them gently and ungently. Language, art, the creative endeavor, is a living breathing thing, a malleable thing. A gorgeous beautiful lush thing. A frustrating gut-wrenching terrible thing. A kick in the gut and head and ass thing. A straining towards thing. A falling back thing. An all or nothing and then all again thing. An I give up, oh wait no I do not thing.
Who will find their face on a cup? Who will be caricatured on a t-shirt? Who will be our icons and giants? Or will we hold onto our iconic giants from before, those who cleared a path for all the rest of us? Forever and ever, ah-men.
I don’t need a cup with my name on it. Do I? Of course not, she says adamantly and hesitantly. My books are my tombstone—my legacy; my mark even if small and one day forgotten. She says most emphatically and discombobulatingly. But what if in some magical world of long from now my words, your words, our words, were held up as examples of iconic splendor? We’d never know it. After all, we’d be dead, short or long dead, but dead. So what’s the point of striving for all that iconic splendor when I can beat myself silly striving just for a bit of attention in the right here and now. Well, when you put it that way, Kathryn.
Just let me love and appreciate every moment of it. Each little bitty moment. And let me always want more. More. More. More. More words. More books. More readers. MORE!
I put a spell on you–because you’re mine . . . .