Sunday, October 10, 2004

the artistic impulse

In an interview today in the Observer the excellent Philip Pullman said "I became passionate about transmiting and enthusiasm, and telling stories" This is fairly close to summing up my own feelings and reasons for trying to write and draw, particularly the enthusiasm. When I'm really taken by something I feel the need to pass it on, usually in the form of recommending it to someone else, but it also makes me want to do something myself. Danny and I have been emailing each other recently about the creative impulse (Danny, do you see how I make us both sound really smart) and Danny talked about a kind of debt we owe from experiencing something (book, picture, film, whatever) that effects us, the kind of debt that is repaid by trying to create something youself. This totally hit's the nail on the head for me. I knew a guy who was interested in writing children's books yet he never managed to really finish anything because each time he read something new that impressed him he would start another book or rewrite one he was working on and it would inevitably show this new influence. At the time I thought this showed some serious lack of... well, a few things, ability, commitment, character, etc. But I've experienced similar impulses myself (and probably shown the same lack ability, etc), when I read something that effects me I feel the need to do something myself. Fortunately I try not to stoop to plagarism. But we were both effected and both needed to express that effect somehow. We both had to pay our debt. No idea if the other guy is still trying to do this or not, I'll keep plugging away though.


Danny said...

Yeah, I guess we do sound pretty bright don't we? But thanks for putting it so clearly, rather than the rambling 3 paragraph word salad I sent you:)

But yeah, trying not to let the inspriation to do something actually colour what you're doing too much is really hard. (BTW are you referring to the person I think you are?)

It used to bother me a great deal, but for some reason it doesn't any more. Not that I'm condoning plagiarism, just I reckon you should just be prepared to accept that nothing happens in a vacuum, and try and be conscious of that... if that makes sense.

paulhd said...

Yup, I am talking about him, guy (see what I did there?)

paul said...

i still want to say something interesting about this, but i'm still not sure what. for me much of the impulse to create is because it seems something worthwhile, the only thing i can do that is not inherently pointless and with the ability to share thoughts and feelings with others - this applies to any form of art, be it crafting an object or writing a story.

more later, perhaps, but in the meanwhile i quite like this discussion on the ability of art to communicate.

paulhd said...

Not totally convinced by that essay Paul! Mainly because I can't help but feel that it just seems to be a semanitcal arguement about the use of the word 'transmission' It seems to me that the essay starts by saying how something isn't so and then goes on to prove how actually maybe it is and then concludes that it doesn't matter anyway. It did raise a couple of interesting points though.
In an interview James Kochalka (check out the link to the right for his site) claimed that his paintings (he studied fine art) were not about communicating or expressing ideas, he reckoned painting was a way of understanding yourself or discovering yourself/ideas. I quite like that.
Intersting that you talk about producing something worthwhile and not inherently pointless as I'm talking about my plans to do painting that are pointless.
One of the reasons I'm interested in where my creative 'drive' comes from is because I'm not sure that it's working, if it was an engine I'd scrap it. I think it's because I'm never particularly impressed or pleased with my work so trying to figure out why I want to do it might help me realise what I want to do.

paul said...

well, i'll admit i took that article to be pretty tongue-in-cheek (did you look at the rest of the site? it gets more absurd), but i liked the pictures and also the part about non-existent art. which, i think, is partly what i mean by doing something that's not inherently pointless - it's the creation of something that is the non-pointless bit, even if the artefact itself was not created for any particular purpose. without the creation i just feel passive, as though i'm just gliding through life without making a mark on it. i suppose in this sense there is a big factor of communication in that if other people don't share what you've done you've still not really changed the world in any, even very slight, way.

the other thing that's a big factor for me is memory, this is self-evident in my scrapbook stuff, but also a large factor in wanting to photograph and blog and write.

and speaking of painting, here's a piece by the guy who runs the YAH site on his thoughts about returning to painting.

paul said...

oh, another thing that grabbed me this week was jonathan miller in the 'brief history of disbelief' show. he said something along the lines of 'a thought isn't stabilized until it's written down'. fairly obvious, and not dissimilar from what i've been getting at above about memory and artefact creation, but i did like his turn of phrase. i think this notion of stabilization can be extended to most creative practice, and also expanded to cover exploration.

paulhd said...

The Jonathan Miller quote is very good, similar to what I was saying about James Kochalka. I guess I did have a sense of humour over-ride about that article not having seen the rest of the site, sorry about that.