When I was about 12 my father posed this conundrum to me in such a way as to suggest it was conceivable I knew the answer.
“A microbiologist,” he began, “studies water.”
“And a microbiologist is made up almost entirely of water.”
I nodded again. Even at that age I knew that human beings are more water than anything else.
“So,” he smiled diabolically, “how are we to know with any certainty at all that microbiologists aren’t merely a device for water to learn more about itself?”
That was decades ago and I still have no satisfactory answer to his puzzle, but it did get me thinking about the relationship between art and artist.
As a younger person I was terribly impressed by the technical virtuosity of artists I admired – I think I liked the idea of control – i.e. – these people controlled their art and in so doing controlled their audiences. But in recent years I have come to understand the artistic process as one of fearless exploration that requires the abandonment of control. In this respect it is a way to learn what you really are and what you really believe as opposed to the twaddle you sell yourself and others.
I do not write in order to discover myself, I write in an attempt to discover and reveal truth to the extent that I am able to do so. To get it right you have to keep your eye on the ball, you can’t “watch yourself” as you go, cleverness is the enemy of art. But self-awareness is definitely a valuable byproduct of the process; sometimes a surprising one.
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