My recent trip opened, or perhaps re-opened, or maybe even re-re-opened my eyes to certain realities. (Over the decades, my sporadic diary writing tells me, I have arrived repeatedly at the exact same insights and conclusions. These recurring realizations never changed anything, but the consistency is interesting, don’t you think?)
I now present my most recent trip-triggered impressions, in no particular order:
– I have more to write about when I leave the house. Venturing beyond my habitual boundaries exposes me with unique experiences, observed behaviors, street and storefront signs, things that I read in the paper (the London paper, so I had to leave town to receive it. London newspapers seem, in general, to include more eye-catching subject matter. Though this morning’s L.A. Times did brighten my breakfast table with a story headlined: “The Case Of Bogota’s Missing Manhole Covers.”)
Confined to my house, and imagination, worthwhile blog post ideas are trickier to come by (though on occasion, a visiting spider will hang for months outside our kitchen window, offering endless fascination and “grist for the mill”.)
I really need to go outside and do something. Will I? The smart money says “Doubtful.” But an incentivizing seed has unquestionably been planted.
– I am not at my best as an “on the fly” blogger. I did not blog “in real time” during the trip, and that was a good thing. Firstly, I needed a break. Though doing this is a joy and a pleasure, the “five-days-a -week” regimen inevitably wears you down. Demanding standards are not easy to maintain, requiring, on occasion, a rejuvenating interruption.
Did not mean I stopped writing during the trip? Nosirree, Bob! At all times, I was accompanied by small green-covered notebook, and whenever an intriguing tidbit crossed my path, I would immediately click open my ballpoint and scratch down my impressions of this nugget in my barely legible cursive scrawl.
It was only when I returned home and started assembling my notes for posting that I realized that at least half of my accumulated gleanings were “roobish.” Had I indulged myself in breathless “in the moment” posting, fifty percent of my reportage would have been substandard (as opposed to a , hopefully, smaller percentage after editing.)
There is also a “shaping issue” involved – cutting, sharpening, finding the most evocative descriptive. I am convinced that, from me at least, you get a better product after thoughtful deliberation. I am no Oscar Wilde, who dazzled at parties with his spontaneous bon mots. Although who knows? Mr. Wilde may have first broken his witticisms in on the maid.
“How’s this, Esme? ‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.’”
“Ah d’nno, sir. It seems rather tautological to me. But it could do in a pinch.”
While I have gotten off my share “good ones” over the years, my more reliable bon mots generally require steeping.
– In contrast to America, where fashion reigns and if short skirts are in vogue, then long skirts are reflexively consigned to the “Giveaway Pile”, in England, quality seems to trump trendiness, at least in the theater. (Writer’s Addendum: On television as well.)
In London, each stage production is evaluated on own its particular merits, rather than in terms of “What’s hot and what’s not.” To equal commercial acceptance, you will find Shakespeare playing beside farce, playing beside revues, playing beside contemporary dramas, playing beside musicals. There is no “the (insert disfavored format of your choice) is passe.” Every genre retains its viability. It’s either a good rendition of that genre, or an inferior one. That’s the only criterion they use. (On TV, they have scripted programming specifically targeting Seniors. Some shows are better than others. But at least they’re on.)
– Actors and directors seem to choose their projects less on the basis of “career moves” than on the basis of their passion, and their fundamental commitment to the craft of acting. Hamlet’s director informed our tour group that, as he had worked on the production for over two years, he had barely broken even financially. Hamlet’s star, Michael Sheen was being paid four hundred pounds a week (about six hundred dollars), all of which he spent on massages and chiropractic services, the physicality of his performances demanding continual and costly “body maintenance.”
Why do they make these sacrifices? They probably don’t consider them sacrifices. It’s just what they do.
The Gerhard Richter exhibit’s “Audioguide” reveals that, during his five-decade-long career, the artist was continually bombarded by the assertion that “Painting in dead.” Richter’s contrarian response:
“I don’t zink so.”
Combatting the “Painting is dead” pessimism , Richter transitioned from painting style to painting style – from portraits based on photographs, to “color charts”, to an entirely gray canvas, to a mirror where they viewer is the subject – proving that, as long as the imagination remains fertile and alive, painting – interesting, inspiring, provocative painting – will go on and on, his action-to-words rebuttal:
“Painting is dead, huh? Well what about this!”
Even if, as I mentioned previously, none of Richter’s specific renderings stayed with me, his rebellious spirit definitely struck an inspirational chord.
It’s possible you knew this stuff already. It’s possible I did too. But it’s helpful occasionally to be reminded. And hopefully useful to have it all in one place.
“Insights And Observations On The Creative Process”:
Just Thinking, 2/2/2012.”
Over the weekend, I'll be turning a year older. Once again, this will be the oldest I have ever been. My hope is that this new block placed at the top of this teetering Tower of Age will not send the entire unsteady structure toppling to the ground. Though being around has it tricky parts, were I consulted on the matter, I would request that my option be picked up for another year. I just looked out my office window at the ocean - the ocean being my inside source on cosmic matters - and have received an encouraging "Thumbs up!"
We will see if the ocean is correct.