Monday, April 23, 2007

Periwinkle Diary III

I should explain here that these flower drawings, although I have eagerly chosen to do them, are not really what I am doing. They are, as I think of them, what I am doing before what I am really doing. And what is that? What I am really doing is what I do instead of what I am not doing. And what is that? What I am not doing and really should be doing, and presume myself to be failing to do (either through ignorance of what it is, or lack of courage to embark on it) is what Henry James calls the real, right thing. It is that which should be done, or tried for, before there is an end of doing altogether.

This is not some riff of sophistry but an attempt to verbalise those churnings of daily doubt which I have known all my working life; ever since I entered the garden of forking paths presented to the artist by the twentieth century. Somewhere half formulated has been an idea, itself a guarantee of failure, of making that garden not of forking but rather of converging paths.

Mentioning Henry James reminds me that one of the things I really am doing is drawing (for wire sculpture) the quotation from James that I made a pastel version of last year. 'We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have. The rest is the madness of art.' Perhaps as I allow myself to think, albeit briefly, and only from time to time, it might be a real, right thing.

Wednesday/Thursday 2007, 5" x 5"


Mike C. said...

"The Real Right Thing"? Sounds like you may be in need of a recuperative spell at the Great Good Place...

The phrase sounds like one of those Buddhist formulations ("right action, right thought, etc.") but, now I come to read the James story (no thanks for that), I see he means nothing more profound than doing the right thing by a ghost. For what it's worth, it may be more obvious to the 99% of us whose desires and destinies crashed and burned long ago that the sort of Platonic mission statement you seem to be measuring yourself against is probably about as Real and/or Right as placating the will of a spook. On the other hand, if your career so far is the result of "those churnings of daily doubt", then I think we should encourage you to carry right on. "Ah, but a man's reach, etc."

Anonymous said...

don't worry, tom, andrea del sarto you're not (thanks, mike c, for getting me to reread that browning). keep on converging those diverging paths. fail again, fail better! (outstanding photos, btw, mike!)