One of the things I really, really like about working in the library is that I can see on a daily level what materials we actually have there. That’s how I’ve found a lot of the movies that I’ve watched recently, and been very glad of watching. Flatland, The Andalusian Dog, and now Martha Graham’s Night Journey. It’s a 30 min film of a ballet she choreographed based on the Oedipus myth – the moment before Jocasta kills herself, in which she relives her relationship with her son/lover. And I had never realized before what an absolutely horrifying moment that would be, that process of recollection – realizing what she did and what she should have done, what she had suspected and what she had ignored, what she had wanted, her body’s hunger, and how all that would come back to you after the blind man shattered into her life and said the one thing that would make her so disgusted with herself to kill herself.
Last few days I’ve been in a funk because of, well, all my sins remembered, and this hits me. I didn’t fuck my son, obviously, but the things I did and didn’t do, the things I did and didn’t know and let myself know, and how frustrated I’ve been recently because of what I let happen and now can’t do anything to fix.
Anyway, enough emo. Here’s something by Martha Graham that says a lot of what I want to about dedicating yourself to art:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
Hung out recently with Godfrey Hamilton (playwright) and Mark Pinkosh (actor), who are an artistic couple (married now, at least in England), that for twenty years – pretty much all of their life together – have dedicated themselves to art. To saying something, and embodying that something said. Their production company is called ‘Starving Artists,’ and that’s not entirely a joke. And for that alone I’d really respect them, but the fact remains also that they do beautifully witty and true work that breaks my heart, because in so much of it there is so much honesty, so natch I hopelessly admire them for that too, as well as for the fact that they are doing what I hope one day I have the discipline and talent and luck to do work like that.
Anyway, Godfrey said that for any one project it takes something like 1.5-2 years to properly complete one project. Then again I know someone who has been able to churn out full-length plays in a matter of a few months, which is frankly intimidating. And when it comes to that I’m not sure if it’s simply that my brain work differently or that I just don’t have enough discipline for this. Both of which are equally possible. Perhaps a bit of both.
I don’t have any truth or beauty bombs left to throw.