I very rarely reproduce internet memes (usually found on Facebook) but this one actually made me larf out loud. So I thought I would share it, and see if it matches your experience of Literature. And teaching. And school generally. And, for that matter, art generally.
Which brings us straightway, of course, to the very obvious point that Literature is art, and therefore open to interpretation, as is all art.
We have always believed in the adage (with something approaching fanaticism) that “art means whatever it means to you”, irregardless of the supposedly “correct” or merely generally-accepted explanation of what it’s supposed to mean.
As one of the commentators on this meme on FB so aptly put it:
Art professor commenting on a painting I did: “Your repeated use of eye and mouth imagery in your artwork symbolises how the eyes interpret reality while the mouth manipulates said reality.” My response: “I just thought eyes, lips and teeth looked cool.”
One of the more interesting experiences in our life has been writing poems that we think mean one thing and then discovering that the people listening think they mean something else.
But what is truly bizarre is when someone else reads one of the poems and interprets it quite differently from what was intended – we mean interprets in terms of balance, flow, pausing, emPHAsis and so on.
Initially, we were horrified, Dear Reader, until (with a certain impressive maturity, we thought) we realised that what was actually being created was not a replacement art form, but an additional one.
It’s very much the same when one writes a TV/film script and then passes it over to a Director. What eventually ends up on screen is often wildly different from how it appeared in one’s mind’s eyes. And sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it isn’t.
The point is, once an item of art has left one’s bosom, it inevitably belongs to the world, not to you any more.
And it may or may not have any intrinsic or inherent value. After all, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, surely artistic value is too?
We are on record, for example, as being a fan of James McCartney’s “Great Wall of Vagina”, where 400 intimately detailed casts of womens’ vulvas are displayed in ten panels both to encourage women to get more in touch and comfortable with their own body, and to campaign against the concept of plastic surgery to “normalise” womens’ vaginas.
Is it art? Well, we think so. You may not. And we’re comfortable to disagree.
It is most definitely an important piece of agit-prop, which has always gone hand in hand with high art. We actually find it strangely soothing, and not in the least erotic. Which is an interesting outcome.
The music, words or art that becomes favourited or valuable are not necessarily any good, it is just stuff which has acquired cachet, renown, infamy or superficial value. We have seen more brilliant art from people who have never sold a canvass, been paid to sing a song or for an article or a piece of anything else artistique than we have from those whose music, canvasses, books or whatevs sell for millions. Let us remember that Van Gogh never sold a painting to anyone (other than his long-suffering bro Theo) before he died. Unless giving away little paintings for a glass of absinthe and a plate of beed stew counts.
So if you feel inclined to write something, or paint it, or sculpt it, or crochet it, or blow it or slump it or stick it together with glue or create a pop song or a symphony, be true to yourself, but don’t necessarily seek approval, and even less, seek understanding.
The art has its own value.
If it has a value to anyone else, that’s a bonus. It is so vanishingly unlikely that you will ever earn a living as an artist as to be more improbable than a very improbable thing on Planet Improbabability on Inter-Galactic Improbability Day, so above all do the work you love, and hang the critics.
If it sells, double bonus.
Anyhow, should you feel the need to create your own art wank, to pre-empt the crap thought or written by others, I recommend this little website, called Arty Bollocks. It allows you to instantly generate your own arty bollocks for gallery descriptions, articles, and criticism of any type. Just click on “Generate Bollocks”.
That allows us to easily share with you, Dear Reader, the deep rationale behind our recent works poetical.
Our work explores the relationship between multiculturalism and midlife subcultures.
With influences as diverse as Caravaggio and Joni Mitchell, new insights are created from both constructed and discovered textures.
Ever since I was a student I have been fascinated by the theoretical limits of meaning. What starts out as contemplation soon becomes debased into a manifesto of distress, leaving only a sense of unreality and the prospect of a new order.
As wavering forms become frozen through emergent and academic practice, the listener is left with a testament to the outposts of our future.
“The outposts of our future.”
That’s what it’s all about.
Other reading: Is art wank? http://www.fearfuladventurer.com/archives/4677