Journey, Not Destination

I’m from the school of thought where one’s art is better informed and developed by sources outside of art, even as I attempt to tune out most news stories that while interesting, don’t really add to my knowledge of the world–at least in a practical sense. Consequently, I find myself constantly searching for new things: music, movies, and especially reading material. I try to read as much as I can, when I can, while still maintaining some semblance of balance in art making, and life in general.

A respectable portion of the time, one thing leads me to another thing, which might lead me to something else not quite as good, but that directs me to another, even better thing, and so on.

For example, watching Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog lead me on to read Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s Rashomon and Other Stories (which I’d rank right with J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories) and Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai. Hagakure, being focused on the ways and mentality of being a good warrior, understandably often slights and dismisses the arts as a folly or distraction from what’s important–being a good retainer, developing quick and sound judgement, etc. Yet there is a scattering of passages that relate to the nature of making art, sometimes quite directly:

Master Ittei said, “In calligraphy it is progress when the paper, brush, and ink are in harmony.” Yet they are so wont to be disjointed!

This is as profound and succinct an understanding as I’ve read anywhere else, by anyone else, in or out of the brain trust of art, and reminds me to always look beyond the walls of my studio, a museum, or a gallery; precious truths abound everywhere.

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