Monday, 27 October 2008

Oh oh oh, Sweet Love und Romance

Apologies to anyone who was waiting with bated breath for my musings on XTRMNTR yesterday, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster week and I haven't had time to write it. But I promise it will be coming along shortly, in fact I hereby pledge to post at least a couple more times before this weekend, when halloween commitments mean that I shall be otherwise engaged (If anyone's wondering, I'm going as Richey, of course).

Anyway, to keep your appetite sated in the meantime, here's something I wrote quite a few months ago. I dug it out of my files today, having been reminded of it this weekend at the Brighton festival, where ten-foot chalkboard letters spelled ELL-OH-VEE-EE across the library forecourt. They were daubed in day-glo lines with the loves of the people who, throughout the day, had been invited to grab a paintbrush and colour in their passions. In the dark, crisp night, hundreds of people were standing and looking at the sculpture. Some were holding hands, taking photographs. Everybody was smiling, and I felt a simple warmth inside, that reflected their contented expressions.

So. Romance, then. It seems to me that those everyday faults in logic that make up our existence – our reliance on language, our trust in linear narrative and misplaced sense of finality – are supremely reflected in the fumblings of romance. Love makes bad poets of us all. That’s precisely the reason why it is so captivating.

Sweet nothings, now there’s an interesting concept. Why does romance reduce a statement to the status of a nothing? Maybe in the twenty-first century, we’ll learn to replace nothings with somethings, the performative utterances of love.

I read about some scientific research a long time ago that suggests that the part of our brain concerned with making rational decisions doesn’t come into play until after we act; we act spontaneously, then justify our decisions with logic afterwards. This doesn’t just go for instinct – and just because you give something a name doesn’t mean it has any explanation – but for other, much more critical decisions like speaking, walking, standing up, sitting down, things that directly affect the course of our lives. Ever been on your way somewhere, lost in your own little world, and suddenly realised that your feet have carried you somewhere familiar, of their own accord, without any apparent intervention from your head? That’s what I’m talking about.

If we aren’t even in control of our own actions, what kind of grip do we have on the future, however we may trivialise it with plans and timetables and alarm clocks and shopping lists? The future, even the close future, from one second to the next, from one instant to the next, as universe shifts into universe, forming and collapsing like surf on the shore, is completely out of our control. Accept it. Go outside right now and kiss a complete stranger. It’s the best you can hope for.

That’s as if to say that hope is something that concerns the future. It isn’t. Hope is something that manifests itself only in memory and past. We live, we hope, we hope that it will or will not happen to us again. Hope is important, certainly, but it is important in that it tells us who we are, not where we are going.

Creation is in itself an act of destruction. When you create something, you make a conscious decision to eradicate all the potential forms and guises that idea may have taken. For every act of creation, a million acts of destruction. God is the destroyer of worlds, because in creating existence, he destroyed the infinite potential for existence to exist as something else. To truly create, you must accept that which you destroy. The history of art is filled with drink and drugs and depression because to be a creator is to celebrate destructiveness. This is why people like the idea of a soul. It’s something tangible and permanent. With everything around it decaying, it is indelible. Its half-life is infinite. It cannot be destroyed or tarnished except by an act of will. Which is where fate comes in.

Fate allows us to accept the possibility that inevitable destruction is not complete and perfect. Fate is a tautology. Things happen because they happen, like the needle scratching endlessly through the groove in the record. But what if the self is not inward, but a manifestation of fate? Maybe fate is an outward representation of self, soul, psyche, id, being? That part that says ‘this is me’ isn’t part of our being in a physical sense. You can’t hold it or taste it or see it. It doesn’t have mass, or colour or texture. Why do we have this impression that it exists behind the eyes? Maybe we’re all fooling ourselves, and fate and free will are the same, and we just don’t realise it. Maybe creation and destruction are both just our own affirmation.

1 comment:

Alex said...

But creation is a separate act from destruction. Artistic creation requires the millennia of previous artists having created previously. We aren’t standing on the shoulders of giants, but it does looks that way from up here. (A matter of perspective. Very renaissance.) The point is that whilst there is no such thing as pure creation, or pure destruction for that matter, the differences are important. And although there isn’t destiny, there is parallel thought; the inevitability of an idea’s being born by one of many minds working with the same history of artists (or scientists or...) backing them. This, again, is where perspective is important because the uniqueness of a personal point of view on that idea is what separates pioneers and the works they create.