I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help me God. Hand on the bible, oath of honesty in a court of law.
But in Amy Tan's cosmology, as she creates something from nothing in her novels and in her life, she rejects absolutes. Here are quotes from her TED Talk, which I highly recommend watching if you spend time with the muse:
"How do I create? By questioning and saying to myself there are no absolute truths. I believe in specifics - the specifics of story - and the past and what is happening in the story at that point.
By thinking about luck and fate, coincidences and accidents, God's will, the synchronicity of mysterious forces, I will come to some notion of how it is we create.
There is uncertainty in everything that is, and that is good. For then I can discover something new.
Ever eat a pomegranate? It tastes delicious, right? Until you neigh choke on the bulbous seed of each red ruby. A pomegranate is like the suave gentleman who never quite proposes to the lady because of his plethora of wife, children, parents, mother-in-law, mortgage, job, church... inner conflicts of interest.
There's a reason I bring up the Jane Austin of all fruits, besides wanting to feast your eyes with this alluring photo. The necessary work of art can be daunting, too, if you fall in love with a creative idea before you understand the swallowing hazards involved. I love to perform music. I've worked hard to be good at it. But venues tend to hire bands to get people onto bar stools and keep them there to drink, and drink... and drink. Or they invite musicians into their cacophonous bookstores and cafés to play for tips, exposure and CD hawking. These hard kernels have nothing to do with my love of performing and everything to do with saying, 'no.'
Suburbia is the fat cat hummer squashing the living daylight out of its gifted and talented roadkill. Splatch! There goes another would be creative, extinguished by marriage, babies and the two car garage. In the film, talking, dreaming, screaming, sobbing, fornication - nothing re-inflates the squashed casualties of a cloying culture.
Enamored by five enormous paintings of the muses by Charles Meynier (1768 - 1832), we listen to our docent tell the story. A French politician originally commissioned Meynier to complete 9 canvasses, but the French Revolution intervened and money ran out. The five muses languished in Meynier’s Paris studio until a Swiss general bought them for his château, where only family and guests could see them. The Cleveland Museum of Art, established in 1916 by the city’s wealthiest philanthropists, eventually bought and restored the paintings.
Fine art moves me in a way pop culture can’t. It speaks to my humanity, connects me to ancient ideals; it enriches me. The story of Meynier’s muses is one of art and riches moving each other through history. I don’t admire the über-rich who horde their wealth as peasants do their bidding. Then one day they plant a lush museum to immortalize their grand names carved in marble to atone for their sins.
"All artists are basically very insecure. It's all about making sure that, by the end of the day, they feel they've accomplished something. You're making something out of nothing. The process really helps you get over that intimidation."
Heather Kim, Troika Design Group
The blank slate is stuff of nightmares and day sweats for the human asked to make something out of nothing.
Designer/animator Heather Kim has a plan when intimidation plagues her work. It's called process. That, and working in a rich environment where high stakes projects (network TV branding), digital technology and collaboration are the norm.
Zane Grey not only had a name so cool they named his hometown Zanesville, but he had a great excuse to leave his wife, kids and Ohio farm for weeks at a time to do research: he was a writer. His secretary traveled with him through the wilderness, taking notes and organizing material for his Old West novels.
People talked. Zane and his assistant were having a tryst.
"I was contemptuous of 'facts' for I came to know that no accumulation of facts constitutes knowledge, and no impersonal knowledge constitutes the intimacy of knowing."
Joyce Carol Oates, in The Girl with the Blackened Eye
I don't suffer facts gladly either. I get the impression my mind toys with me, daring me to live by facts alone. I do usher a great deal of information across my threshold - and usher the bulk of it right back out the galley way, as I call to the skittering factoids, 'I'll google you next week, we'll do lunch!'
I really don't want poems and constitutional amendments lounging around the living room when I have work to do. They can be a little testy when I get their names mixed up and - arrogance? Sheesh! They're insufferable bores that way. Wiki this. Pedia that -- what a bunch of eggheads.
A year from today I want to behold my website with serene satisfaction. Right now I'm quaking in my boots.
Web gurus Andy Beal, Judy Strauss and David Meerman Scott urge us to engage our visitors with video, podcasts, forums and the like. This is good news, since I had been itching to explore video and podcasting long before this.
Which is exactly why my brain-scape is, at present, a petrified forest. All systems full stop.
Redesigning the website to encompass blogging, forums and polls has been a luxurious challenge. Content management software was not hard to learn, thanks to Drupal and a great online tutorial by Tom Geller.