To Artists from Artists: Ordeal
I wanted to take a minute to speak to anyone who’s still here with me who happens to create, all of you artists. A good number of people don’t believe in the notion that inner turmoil drives art. On really sunny days, I’m nodding along with those folks. On the other days, I look to the small and terrible band of tortured souls who made something striking: the van Goghs, Plaths, Cobains, Picassos, Monroes, Winehouses. For those of you artists who feel a little off your rocker sometimes, a few quotes from your kin:
"The intellect of man is forced to choose/ Perfection of the life, or of the work/ And if it take the second must refuse/ A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark." // Yeats
”There’s a creative urge that gets inside you, like ‘Alien.’ For me, it’s a constant battle of deciding when not to explode, when to use that emotion to feed you creatively. There’s a constant fear, because you’re pushing something to the edge. And at the same time, there’s a fear you might become too civil, too sane.” // Martin Scorcese
"For some are sane and some are mad/ And some are good and some are bad / And some are better, some are worse/ But all may be described in verse." // TS Eliot
"What am I in most people’s eyes? A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man… I should want my work to show what is in the heart of such an eccentric, of such a nobody." // van Gogh
"I dare affirm that any artist… who has nothing singular, eccentric, or at least reputed to be so, in his person, will never become a superior talent." // Michelangelo
"I do strongly feel that among the greatest pieces of luck for high achievement is ordeal. Certain great artists can make out without it, Titian and others, but mostly you need ordeal. My idea is this: the artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business: Beethoven’s deafness, Goya’s deafness, Milton’s blindness, that kind of thing." // John Berryman
I’m interested to know if any of you find inner turmoil or ‘ordeal’ to be a driving force in your creative life?
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Q: What’s it feel like to beat Cancer and, at the finish of Chemotherapy, look ahead to life?
A: See above.
"Persons attempting to find a “text” in this book will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a “subtext” will be banished; persons attempting to explain, interpret, explicate, analyze, deconstruct or otherwise “understand” it will be exiled to a desert island in the company of only other explainers."
Wendel Berry’s “Jayber Crow”
Ira Glass on marriage.
- Kurt Braunohler: I do have a theory now that if I do get married in the future, what I think I would want to do is have an agreement that, at the end of seven years, we have to get remarried in order for the marriage to continue. But at the end of seven years, it ends. And we can agree to get remarried or not get remarried.
- Ira Glass: Why?
- KB: Because then I think you get to choose. And I think it would make the relationship stronger.
- IG: ...I think actually one of the things that’s a comfort in marriage is that there isn’t a door at seven years, and so if something is messed up, in the short term, there’s a comfort of knowing, ‘well we made this commitment, so we’re just going to work this out. And even if tonight we’re not getting along, or there’s something between us that doesn’t feel right, you have the comfort of knowing, we’ve got time, we’re going to figure this out’. And that makes it so much easier. Because you do go through times where you hate eachother’s guts, and the no escape clause, weirdly, is a bigger comfort to being married than I ever would have thought before I got married.