Thursday, December 08, 2005


is there an art to writing? can i expect to get better at it? do other people enjoy reading what they write?

some questions going through my head as i've been finding writing my papers for the end of the term so difficult. words come out of me easy enough, but i can't help but wonder if they will make any sense to their intended audience. and further... whether its compelling, or interesting, or even noteworthy at all. perhaps partly because i'm familiar with the thoughts i'm attempting to express—although, i must admit, every now and then i surprise myself—when i read my own writing in an attempt to edit it, it seems so... blah. is writing a gift that some have and others don't? can it be cultivated? i really hope so.

i've been trying to assume a new relationship to the papers i'm writing. it seems there is some consensus amongst artists and the like that actually attempting to complete their work is gut wrenching. their work seems to constantly beg to be manipulated, changed, perfected... of course, in aesthetics this lends itself well to the debate over when an art work can actually be called an art work. but for me, its merely illustrative of a greater truth. these works that come from ourselves are important to us... the plays we direct, the journals we edit, the books we develop, the papers we write... we expect that their presentation to others be the best that we can present. but the sad truth is, we can always perfect it.

nietzsche's philosophy has been appropriated by certain ethicists to preach the value of the life lived creatively. the idea here is that we should live as though our life were a production and that once we've created it, we let it go, claim no further responsibility for it. there is something compelling in this, even if only for the idea that perfect creation requires a lack of responsibility. levinas agrees—though in a pejorative way—that art is irresponsible.

but at least if my art is irresponsible, the papers i write will get finished. i'm reminded of the horribly inspiring grad student motto which is 'don't get it right, get it done'.... i'm not sure what sad state of academics necessitated this mantra, but i find it inspiring in that its a place to start. at least it can open the vein so that something is created...


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