Did not think I would still find the motivation to go running tonight. But I did and it helped. This week was a slow week - 34 km, each between 5:20 and 5:40. But most of them going up. Running for the hills. Slow pace make things flow and does not tax the body as hard as pushing for a new record (personal record, that is).
Anything but invisible!
Says Terence Hayes. I listened to a Studio360 podcast in which he talks a little about himself and about his poetry (as a side note - I think no poet should be allowed to read their own poetry: it usually sounds like a hurried slam contest, a logomaniac expectorating words…). At one point he says he wants to be transparent, in the sense that the world should know where he comes from, to see through him and understand him in his milieu, but he does not want to be invisible. Transparent but not invisible. That is something one should wish for.
Art is not the kind of thing where you get what you put into it all the time. So I learned to not expect anything, other than the sort of joy of having a poem in front of me.
True. Is this art for the sake of art? No. It is art for the sake of saving one’s soul (Dostoevsky?). What you do, when and if done well, should bring you joy, should make you love the world. Even if the world is not going to give you something back in return. Worse. Even if the world keeps taking away from you. What happens if you are a poet, a good poet but a self-proclaimed poet. You never really published anything, but you wrote a lot. Let us say an artist, let us widen the spectrum. You wrote or painted or composed music, or whatever else that would stir a human being, that would make one stop and wonder and want more, that would make one rediscover oneself as part of the world. But no one saw or heard or read what you made. You take pleasure in all the stuff you make and you know that your effort is not in vain, but your public has never been wider than one. What do you do on your death bed? How do you feel? Do you want to make a funeral pyre and set the record straight, so that the world is none the richer or poorer with your passing through it? Do you want to take good care that your magnum opus will come into experienced and trusted hands and one day it will see the light of day and will bring you (albeit posthumously) the fame you dreamed of, sub rosa? What will you do? Or perhaps you will leave it to chance, not try to unveil it or had it pinned on the cork-board of world culture but also not hide it away in cardboard boxes in damp cellars under locks without keys?
My question again - is it enough? The joy of having a poem in front of you - is it enough? Does it suffice?
I doubt it.
As long as you don’t push for your recognition, as long as you do not try to be visible in the most concrete way, you will very likely be forgotten. There are countless examples though - Vivian Maier, to think of one quickly, who only got to be known on a large scale after they have passed away. Who gives you the certitude that what you do is good or is worth something? Nobody but yourself. You are the measure of your creation. You might be happy with what you are able to produce partly because you cannot see over your own limits and limitations. That’s where the others come in. You have to do it somehow together with the others, you have to still want to learn something from those around you if you do not want to keep spinning around yourself, to worship and curse yourself for each crocked line, for each insolvent word.
But why can’t I take it to mean something simple and, possibly, more accurate - the joy of making something for oneself. The others are there, they see and read a lot. Just that you are not famous. You manage to move some people, you make them think about you and about your stuff. And they get back to you, they encourage you, they give you strength, they even criticize you. It’s just that you are not famous and don’t have the money.