Friday, December 22, 2006

Infinity Goes Up on Trial

Over the past month or so I've been thinking more and more about art. I've been feeling more and more comfortable with the questions that art poses and helps me ask. In the last month, with Brian's help I've started roughing out a play. Will it ever be completed? Will it suck? Will it be of any external value? I don't know. But there is something about giving myself permission to explore, to find, and to fail. The process of writing, the process of trying to craft words for others, is hard, and rewarding and revealing.

Right on the heels of starting to write and think about this play, I talked with Ann and one thing led to another... and now we're working on a dance piece together. I'm writing the text, and helping with some of the choreography and ideas. She's helping with the text and coming up with all the movements. Here I am thinking creatively about large social issues and the minutia of life. Art is this amazing lens through which you're allowed to ask questions of any size. It helps me to think about these questions and these ideas, and allows me to crudely (I'll freely admit) offer answers.

Again, I have no real reason to believe that what I'll create will be important, or powerful, or even judged a success. But for me so much of the best part of life is the asking of questions, the debating of ideals, the exploration of divergent thought. Art, like my closest friends, is the source of further ideas to understand. It's a means by which to engage others in conversation, to plant a small flag in the stream of discourse and say this is what I think and thought and hope to express.

That's powerful.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Dylan lyrics:

"Inside the museum, infinity goes up on trial."

I think that captures the power of art for me. Inside museums you can place everything, existence on trial. You can evaluate, examine and debate the greatest things. Things beyond measure and beyond scale are still within the scope of art. In fact art is one of the few ways to critique and comment on things we consider beyond our grasp, beyond words. I used to believe that I was entirely without artistic gift. And lord knows, the output I've generated thus far on these two projects will do little to dispell this idea. But the act of trying, the act of thinking is intoxicating. And if in the end the process creates something that forces another person to think, to ponder, to wonder about their own life, I'll be thrilled beyond measure. I'll be infinitely grateful.

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