Really, I would never want to do it — even though the idea has occurred to me. What if I could download a painting from my brain directly onto the watercolor paper? Then I wouldn’t have to work — to worry about my hands not being able to execute what’s in my imagination — or getting the colors and the shapes wrong — or any of the other things that can interfere with my “vision.” How about that — no frustrations!
I was reminded of this unattainable (thankfully) idea when I read Chris Huntington’s essay “Why We Write” in the May/June 2012 issue of Poets & Writers. Mr. Huntington talked about “thinking” versus “writing” as if there might be a chasm dividing them, the same kind of chasm that can exist between my “idea” and my “painting” and that requires work to cross. Work that is ultimately satisying.
“I’m old enough to know the difference between thinking and writing. I know which is harder,” he wrote.
“Jack Kerouac, I think, had it right. On my favorite recording of him Kerouac is drunkenly packing up his stuff after a reading when he’s asked by a saxophonist, ‘Which is more important: the ideas or the prose?’
“Everyone around Kerouac laughs, as if he’s been asked some impossible chicken-or-egg question, but in the middle of all their laughter Kerouac growls: ‘Ideas are a dime a dozen.’ It’s true. Everyone has ideas. That’s why I write. Just thinking isn’t enough.”
Yes, I embrace the work — and the eventual satisfaction. (“Just thinking isn’t enough.”) And downloading would cheat me of both.
“Dean’s preferred method of working is to delay listening to a producer’s track until she is in the studio, in front of the mike. ’I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it’s words but most time it’s not,’ she told me. ’And I just see when I get this little chill, here’ — she touched her upper arm, just below the shoulder — ‘and then I’m like, “Yeah, that’s the hook.”‘ If she doesn’t feel that chill after five minutes, she moves on to the next track, and tries again.”
From “The Song Machine” by John Seabrook in the March 26, 2012 issue of The New Yorker (profiling Ester Dean, a prominent “top-line” Top Forty songwriter/demo singer, and the producers she works closely with to create the urban-pop songs that eventually may become monster hits when sung by, say, Beyonce or Rihannna or Kelly Clarkson or Nicki Minaj).
“Part of innovation is looking around to see what’s not being done.”
From an as-told-to profile of architect David Rockwell by Liz Welch in the April 2012 issue of Inc. magazine (quoting Mr. Rockwell on his philosophy of “going after jobs rather than waiting for the phone to ring”).
“She has often said that when she hates something herself — crochet, for example — she works out her antipathy in a collection: it gives her the space ‘to be intrigued.’”
From “Radical Chic,” a story by Judith Thurman in the the March 26, 2012 issue of The New Yorker (describing how Miuccia Prada, the subject of a joint exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York called “Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada: Impossible Conversations,” approaches her fashion design work).
That’s the essential question behind all ideas, isn’t it? Someone saying, in the silence of the heart or loud as can be, “What happens when …(insert whatever) …?”
Even if I didn’t know Kit Kennedy and Susan Gangel and their individually marvelous poetry, I would have immediately been intrigued to read these words introducing their recent collaboration: “What happens when two poets decide to each write a line a day, and merge them at the end of the month?” My knowing Kit and Susan also meant my knowing that the answer to the question would be powerful.
And “Constellations,” the book charting their collaboration, is powerful the way that something unique is powerful — there is simply nothing else to compare it with.
Kit and Susan wrote their own lines-a-day without knowing what the other was writing. Finally revealing the lines to each other, they then arranged their lines in monthly chapters corresponding to the nine months that the project lasted. The chapters build in complexity and turn two voices into a sort of unison in which the two voices cannot be teased apart, even if you wanted to, even though you know they are there. 1+1=1
It may seem that chance was the operating principle behind the project (enhanced by artist Terry Turrentine’s just-right ink drawings, which she dreamed up and executed without having read the poetry — how’s that for taking a chance?). If so, it must be the kind of chance that allows all the constellations of the universe to exist in both independent and interlocking beauty.
Even without its light on, this lighthouse would get a ship’s attention — and with its light on, it might attract a party instead. That’s what came to mind when I read about a new piece of public — though, apparently, “useful” — art by German artist Tobias Rehberger.
It’s a 55-foot-tall multi-colored aluminum sculpture of a sort-of deconstructed lighthouse that has a multi-colored, multi-flashing disco-type light in its dome rather than the usual white oscillating light. It sits in a park on Government Cut in Miami Beach that cruise ships float by. If it were in California, I might think it was about to collapse in an earthquake, as its verticality is irregular, sort of like a pile of rings that just doesn’t stack up right.
“Stayin’ Alight,” Jenny Brown’s piece in the November 2011 issue of ARTnews, quoted Mr. Rehberger’s inspiration: “I was working with the idea that a lighthouse is always striped and what what happens if you move the rings out of the axis. It looks like a sausage with the slices pushed out.”