Posts tagged with "art" - Faerye Net 2011-08-07T20:27:51+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Art Form 2011-08-07T20:27:51+00:00 2011-08-07T20:41:13+00:00 <p>I was looking through the photographs the <a href="" target="links">Metropolitan Museum of Art</a> put online of their exhibit of <a href="" target="links">Alexander McQueen</a> fashion, <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Savage Beauty&#8221;</a> (hat tip <a href="" target="links">Kate Elliott</a>).</p> <center><img src=",VOSS2001.T.jpg"></center> <p>I&#8217;ve been an admirer of some of McQueen&#8217;s designs for a long time. They&#8217;re audacious and challenging. They often combine an element of the familiar with a leap into the wildly alien. I&#8217;m not hugely well-grounded in haute couture, and of course I can hardly fail to have problems with the fashion industry, but McQueen&#8217;s creations are arresting. On the Met&#8217;s blog, the photographs of objects from the <a href="" target="links">wildly popular</a> exhibit are accompanied by quotes from experts and from McQueen himself.</p> <blockquote><a href="" target="links">“My designing is done mainly during fittings. I change the cut.”</a><br /> <br /> <a href="">“I spent a long time learning how to construct clothes, which is important to do before you can deconstruct them.”</a></blockquote> <p>These quotes really struck me, because something I&#8217;d thought as I looked at the photographs was that you can&#8217;t easily imagine a fashion drawing of these pieces. You often see a fashion drawing which is the purest expression of a concept, and then the realized item, which is just a little descended, a little off. These creations of McQueen&#8217;s, love them or hate them, are the real object, the thing itself.</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p>You&#8217;d be hard pressed to express the essence of <a href="" target="links">this mossy dress</a> as a drawing, or communicate with a sketch the complexity that defines <a href="" target="links">this dress designed from its fabric.</a> And I think part of the power of these things, whether or not you like them as clothing, is that they were made with deep knowledge.</p> <p>Part of any artist&#8217;s craft is having something to say, but another part of it is deep knowledge, passion and application, immersion. Here was someone who knew the shape of his medium intimately, and that mastery shows in the product: we should all aspire to that, as artists, even if we shy away from other aspects of McQueen&#8217;s legacy.</p> <center><img src="" /></center> <p>I was moved once by a <a href="" target="links">craft talk by one of the poetry profs</a> at my grad school, where she talked about memorizing poetry to learn rhythm. When I sum up that talk, the wisdom she conveyed, I think of it as &#8216;eat poetry so that your body is made of it&#8217;. You are what you eat, right? Eat words, eat art, eat poetry and prose &#8212; think about it, be aware of it, be a mindful mouth &#8212; and you can have that knowledge and love in every sinew. You&#8217;ll still be you, just made of your art. That&#8217;s what I aspire to: to be a story elemental with bones made of words.</p> <p>What are you taking in that you want to keep? Out of what are you making yourself?</p> <p><font size="small"><em>Photographs ©Sølve Sundsbø from <a href="">the Met blog</a></em></font></p> Plug plug - Kelley Caspari's Sculpture 2011-06-08T10:36:42+00:00 2011-06-08T10:37:10+00:00 <p>My good friend <a href="" target="links">Kelley Caspari</a> is a splendid sculptor, who&#8217;s been working hard on a project she wants to show at Worldcon. She doesn&#8217;t like stasis, which is a challenge for a sculptor. She&#8217;s taking it on by creating narrative in a bust: she chooses a pair of archetypical characters from stories and myth, and sculpts one bust: half one character, half the other.</p> <p>Kelley&#8217;s an amazing artist and the attention to detail is pretty stellar.</p> <center><img src="" /><br /> <strong>Blind</strong> by Kelley Caspari<br /> More angles and details (whose tail is that in the witch&#8217;s hair?) on Kelley&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Kickstarter</a>.</center> <p>This is just one of the two busts, the witch/king one. To see her siren/sailor piece, click on through to Kelley&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Kickstarter page</a>. You can help her name that one, whether or not you donate to her project!</p> <p>These sculptures are done, but they need to be cast in bronze so that Kelley can show them at Worldcon (imagine trying to transport hundreds of hours of your life in the form of mushy clay in crates), so that&#8217;s what her Kickstarter campaign is all about. I&#8217;m spreading the word about Kelley&#8217;s project because I love her work and I believe it should have a wider audience &#8212; even if you aren&#8217;t able to donate yourself, I hope if you like her sculptures, you&#8217;ll spread the word with a tweet or blog post or status update or what-have-you. She only has four more days to make up the last fourth of her goal! And that is my shameless plug for the month, if not the year.</p> A little ambition is a dangerous thing 2011-03-24T15:33:47+00:00 2011-03-24T16:35:00+00:00 <center><img src="" width="236" height="500" alt="8-year-old gaming sketch" /></a><br /> <em>A drawing I did of an Exalted character c. 2003. &#8220;Good enough&#8221; for what?</em></center> <p>I&#8217;ve never thought much of myself as an artist. All right, that&#8217;s a lie: as a child, I thought I was pretty awesome. But I was also pretty sure I would someday find a magic sword in a stone, so take my cherished beliefs with all the salt you like. And even then, I could tell that I didn&#8217;t have an overpowering natural gift: it took a lot of work for me to get a drawing up to second-place snuff, when the first-place kid tossed his off in no time. I admit, this may have discouraged me. While my mom, herself dissuaded from trying at art at a young age, forbade me to say I was &#8220;bad at drawing&#8221;, I decided to be cheerfully &#8220;mediocre at drawing&#8221; or at best &#8220;okay at drawing&#8221;.</p> <p>In my adult life, I mostly use the &#8220;okay&#8221; drawing skills I nursed through Drawing classes and Scientific Illustration activity to draw my <a href="" target="links">roleplaying game</a> characters. (It&#8217;s okay, if you were on this website you would have worked out that I&#8217;m a giant dork eventually.) My spotty skills are enough, usually, to falter out a much-corrected portrait of my character that satisfies me. The clothes are usually just right. Often I am pleased with the face. The pose is almost always awkward.</p> <p>I made the dreadful mistake of showing these things to my friend <a href="" target="links">Lee Moyer</a>. Lee is an immensely talented and prolific professional artist and illustrator. Very professional. I can&#8217;t remember why I committed the mad act of showing him my sketchbook, but probably because we were going to <a href="" target="links">Ambercon</a> together, and he would inevitably see me scribbling at some point. Might as well preemptively show him the whole ugly mess, I must have thought.</p> <p>Well, he didn&#8217;t cry out in horror, and to my knowledge he didn&#8217;t lose sanity points. Instead, he did the next-worst thing: he encouraged me. He told me that with more discipline, I could draw well. He told me that with better tools, I could draw more quickly. Somehow I&#8217;d managed to get my innate ambition and perfectionism to overlook this one area, but now it has noticed art again, and all may well be lost. Because if I <em>can</em> do well at something, then of course I had jolly well better. All these years, I&#8217;ve been trying to make the individual drawing better without working on my overall skills, without spending time preparing, working things out, or getting references. The end results may have been within my bounds of satisfaction, but they could have been much better much faster if I&#8217;d been willing to work on my drawing as a whole and give the activity a little more time.</p> <p>Now that I am ambitious about drawing again, it&#8217;s hard to believe I managed not to be for so long. I try to imagine someone with just an ounce of talent telling me, &#8220;It&#8217;s okay, I don&#8217;t need to get better at writing: I only use it for my <span class="caps">RPG</span> character journals.&#8221; Why wouldn&#8217;t you get better at something if you could? Why do something if it&#8217;s not worth practicing? What was I thinking?</p> <p>And what am I in for now? (One thing&#8217;s almost certain: you will be seeing a lot more &#8220;cross-training&#8221; posts about the similarities between writing and visual art.)</p> A timely reminder: this is what we do 2010-12-03T13:28:18+00:00 2010-12-03T13:29:04+00:00 <p>I love reading James Gurney&#8217;s blog, <a href="" target="links">Gurney Journey</a>. (I think <a href="" target="links">Steve</a> tipped me to it originally? If so, thanks, Steve.) I love Gurney&#8217;s work, and I love learning about art and how it works and has worked. Also, I find a lot of cross-disciplinary pollination in the things he talks about. Sometimes it&#8217;s hard to explain how the stuff he says about painting or drawing seems very apt for writing. Sometimes it&#8217;s not.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Thursday&#8217;s blog post, &#8220;Mutter and Growl&#8221;</a>, about perennial Shoulders family favorite John Singer Sargent. It&#8217;s about his making a lot of noise as he worked, but here&#8217;s the part that really struck me:</p> <blockquote>Another observer noted that he talked to himself: “This is impossible,” Mr. Sargent muttered. “You can’t do it. Why do you try these things? You know it’s hopeless. It can’t be done.” <br /> <br /> Then: “Yes, it can, yes, it can, it can be done—my God, I’ve done it.”</blockquote> <p>I always feel so grateful when I find that cycle of despondency and triumph in master artists, or hear <a href="" target="links">writers whose work I really admire confess to it</a>. It&#8217;s not schadenfreude, it&#8217;s recognition: oh, this is fundamental.</p> <p>When you&#8217;re in it, you feel like the only one. Whether it&#8217;s a small cycle during one session of painting or a big long-form up-and-down, you feel trapped in the solipsistic agony of it. But you&#8217;re not alone. We&#8217;re all down there, toiling our parallel ways out of our oubliettes to stand heedless and triumphant in the light.</p> Exciting present! 2009-04-04T22:35:41+00:00 2009-04-04T22:36:33+00:00 <p>Ryan&#8217;s family always gets together to celebrate birthdays. For some reason, we ended up doing mine over a month after it actually happened. I&#8217;m not used to doing this with birthdays, but when you do it with Christmas, it&#8217;s called &#8220;extending the Christmas joy&#8221;. It means you get presents long after you had any rational expectation of them. I got awesome presents, and one that I thought I would highlight on the old blog.</p> <p><a href="" target="links">Greystork</a> <em>made a statue</em> based on my story, &#8220;Burgerdroid&#8221;. Seriously. Someone made <em>art</em> because of something I wrote. Because of the first thing I&#8217;ve ever gotten published, no less. This is fantastic!</p> <p>The sculpture reveals something crucial from the end of the story, so you might not want to click through if you haven&#8217;t read it. If you have read it, feast your eyes!</p> <center><a href="" title="Burgerdroid statue by Torben Jensen"><img src="" width="200" height="283" alt="Burgerdroid statue - teaser" /></a></center> My thesis as a cloud 2009-01-03T00:46:15+00:00 2009-01-03T10:11:36+00:00 <p>My friend <a href="" target="links">Robert Peake</a>, a thoughtful poet gifted in procrastination, recently turned in his <span class="caps">MFA</span> thesis and made <a href="" target="links">word clouds</a> of his critical essay and creative thesis (collection of poems, in his case), which you can see on his blog. (Clouds show each word at a size proportional to its number of uses in the text. Wordle defaults to removing dead-common words like &#8216;and&#8217;, and uses the 150 most used words unless you specify differently.) Of course I jumped at the chance to be the next to perform this act of procrastinatory genius, and plugged my opus into <a href="">Wordle</a>.</p> <p>Here is my nearly-complete story collection/complete creative thesis, <em>Sea Selves</em>, in cloud form:<br /> <a href="" title="Thesis Wordle by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="325" alt="Thesis Wordle" border="0"/></a></p> <p>I really liked the random font and other options Wordle chose, and the layout that came out first try, so this is exactly what Wordle pumped out, transformed only in color. I took all these shades from photos I&#8217;ve taken of the Pacific Ocean. (Pretentious? <em>Moi?</em>)</p> <p>Here is my critical essay, <em>Sea Change: Visions of the Ocean</em>, which I tweaked a little more:<br /> <a href="" title="Essay Wordle by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="303" alt="Essay Wordle" border="0"/></a></p> <p>If for some reason you want to look closer at either, you can click through to the Flickr page and press the &#8216;all sizes&#8217; button right above the image. My word clouds look very different from Robert&#8217;s, which is to be expected. Not only is my thesis prose, but mine is themed. I hope someone with a non-themed short story thesis tries it next to compare! There are a few words I&#8217;m slightly surprised by on my thesis word cloud, others I&#8217;m glad came through so strongly, and some which were a matter of course. And it&#8217;s interesting to see the names of characters from very different stories and worlds nestle so promiscuously together.</p> <p>For fun, here is a wordle of <em>Sea Selves</em> with 1500 words rather than 150. I think it makes clear why 150 is the default:<br /> <a href="" title="Thesis Wordle with 1500 words. by Eilonwy Anne, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="282" alt="Thesis Wordle with 1500 words." border="0" /></a></p> <p>In short, I hope Robert has started a fashion. This was fun, and I hope to see other MFAers follow suit.</p> Beauty and erasure 2008-12-14T00:37:07+00:00 2010-08-03T11:30:13+00:00 <p>I recently finished the meaty nonfiction tome <em>The Bounty</em>, by Caroline Alexander. It led me to reflect on youth and responsibility, the totally different worlds that coexist within a given culture and time period, and many other things. One line of thought was inspired by a throw-away line and a series of illustration plates.</p> <blockquote>A surviving, highly stylized portrait shows Nessy [Heywood, sister of a mutinous young gentleman] as the ideal young woman of her time, with large, limpid eyes and a small &#8216;rosebud&#8217; mouth, her slim, pale face framed by a mane of soft curls &#8211; a portrait that does not accord entirely with Peter&#8217;s own fond and forgiving description. His sister&#8217;s features, he allowed, &#8216;were by no means regular&#8217;, although her long-lashed eyes &#8216;redeemed the whole face&#8217;.</blockquote> <p>The portrait, seen <a href="" target="link">here</a>, is reproduced in a plates section further on in the text. It is, in fact, pretty but insipid, a sharp contrast to the <a href="" target="links">portrait of Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley</a> on the facing page. Pasley&#8217;s portrait is more detailed and by a noted portraitist, so perhaps it&#8217;s natural that his face shows hints of cunning and perhaps a twist of humor, where Nessy&#8217;s portrait gives no real insight on her character.</p> <p>But turning the page again, I find character after character. The officers at Peter Heywood&#8217;s court martial appear in different media, by different artists, and most of them are strikingly individual. I could very easily label each with an adjective: self-absorbed, stodgy, idealist, bold; or use each picture as the jumping-off point for a character in a story. I turn the page again, and here are more portraits, few of them detailed oil portraits, but most of them, again, with that indefinable spark that speaks, if not of likeness, then of humanity, perhaps of essence. Take a look at <a href="" target="links">Rear Admiral John Knight</a>, small tho&#8217; he be here, and then look at <a href="" target="link">Nessy again</a>. Isn&#8217;t she amazingly devoid of character?</p> <p>Another woman I find myself unable to envision as real from her portrait is Tahitian noblewoman <a href="" target="links">Poedua</a> (<span class="caps">WARNING</span>: exposed breasts). On the other hand, Elizabeth Bligh, Captain Bligh&#8217;s wife, <a href="" target="links">seemed very real</a> to me. But when I turned the page to her portrait, I felt a sting of embarrassment on her behalf. Despite the intellect I know from the text she possessed, there is something weak, perhaps a desire to please, in her face. She would seem puppyish even without the accompanying dog. And there is something unprepossessing in her mouth and teeth. More than Poedua, she seems naked to me. Naked because she is real, unbeautiful.</p> <p>In our <a href="" target="links">perturbation</a> over <a href="" target="links">before and after airbrushing photos</a>, perhaps we forget this earlier precedent. When likeness was a matter both of the skill and of the tact of the portraitist, these flattering lies were rampant (whither Marie-Antoinette&#8217;s Hapsburg chin, <a href="" target="links">Mme. Vig&eacute;e-Le Brun</a>?). There&#8217;s no reason to suppose that the men&#8217;s portraits are immune &#8211; some of these men may have a more dashing set of the head or stronger set of the jaw than they did in life. But those envied physiognomies of manly <em>virtus</eM> are not so demanding and distorting as the fickle ideal of beauty.</p> <p>I remember arguing once with someone who argued that we shouldn&#8217;t have a Sacagawea coin because we don&#8217;t have any contemporary portrait of her, and can&#8217;t be sure our coin is accurate. I pointed out that before photography, only rich, ruling class/race men (and a few women) could have their likeness preserved for posterity &#8211; insisting on a likeness before a stamp or coin could be produced would mean perpetuating the effacement of poor people and people of color throughout the ages. And now I realize that there is another effacement here, that of personality and individuality (and occasionally ethnicity) in many of the portraits that <em>were</em> painted. Perhaps Marie-Antoinette was mortified to be sketched on her way to the Guillotine by Revolutionnaire Jacques-Louis David. Under the circumstances, more mortified than most celebrities enduring the paparazzi&#8217;s flashes can possibly be. But I feel this picture, <a href="" target="links">stark and incomplete</a> as it is, shows more of Marie-Antoinette&#8217;s personality than the many posed and prettified portraits of her I have seen. Her jaw is set and her back is straight. That seems both real and admirable. To be without the veil of beauty is to be exposed, for good or ill.</p> <p>The beauty ideal isn&#8217;t weakening. Rather than allowing a less restrictive and more attainable range of female appearance to be celebrated, our culture is upping the pressure on men to perfect, pore-minimize, depilate and smooth. When you can open a magazine and find <a href="" target="links">Clive Owen</a> in the uncanny valley almost as easily as Beyonc&eacute;, perhaps it&#8217;s time to celebrate the fragmentary, distorted truth-telling the camera <em>can</em> provide. Perhaps next time we look at a photograph of ourselves, we can look, not for the bulge or the pimple or the wrinkle, but the spark of humanity, the essence that has been preserved and transmitted. Something that says, &#8220;I was there.&#8221;</p> Overquotage 2008-06-03T12:13:14+00:00 2008-06-03T12:16:48+00:00 <p>It&#8217;s been said to me (to my shame, I forget where or by whom) that great works of art &mdash; say, Hokusai&#8217;s wave painting, or &#8220;Starry Night&#8221; &mdash; have been diminished by their popularity. They are pictured over and over, often in trivial form: tote bag, mousepad, dorm room posters. Through this repetition and even the contemptible familiarity of adorning mugs, placemats and magnets, they lose their original impact. They become symbols rather than art objects: in some cases, their meaning is as simple as &#8220;Mona Lisa = culture.&#8221;</p> <p>I think the same thing can occur with literature. There is a passage I love in T.S. Eliot&#8217;s <em>Four Quartets</em> which is quoted often. I&#8217;ve almost not written this blog post because I don&#8217;t want to be part of the over-repetition problem. But let&#8217;s just say that the quote is about returning home and recognition. I&#8217;m sure you&#8217;ve heard it. It&#8217;s printed on posters of pretty landscapes, and on artsy greeting cards. It has probably appeared on quote-of-the-day calendars. If you need any more clues, it is usually quoted from &#8220;We shall not cease from exploration&#8221;.</p> <p>This quote begin the first stanza of &#8220;Little Gidding&#8221; V, on the very last page of the long, beautiful, interwoven <em>Quartets</em>. Reading these poems is rigorous but rewarding intellectual and, for me, emotional work, and that quote is and was an arrival, a culmination. It isn&#8217;t merely &#8216;true&#8217; or &#8216;inspiring&#8217;, in context it is a revelation, itself the recognition and the return it describes. I think I may have cried when I reached it in my first perusal.</p> <p>But even then, enjoying the passage in context and as it was meant, I knew it was coming. The blow of realization was softened by the recognition of that quote, the memories of all the glurgy confections in which I&#8217;ve seen those words quoted. A host of associations alien to the poetry at hand crowded in, and while the thought of that reading, that moment, still gives me a shiver, it also carries a hint of annoyance at the companies and people that overused that quote and tarnished a little of its brilliance. It&#8217;s like playing two bars of the Moonlight Sonata in a music box. It&#8217;s bite-sizing and mass-marketing our cultural treasures. It&#8217;s tawdry and sad.</p> The demands of art, the demands of self 2007-11-08T15:02:32+00:00 2008-05-30T13:42:52+00:00 <P>My friend (and distinguished poet) Jeannine recently wrote a little <a href="">blogget</a> on the continuing gender imbalance in publishing. It&#8217;s a little slanted towards poetry, but I&#8217;d be a big liar if I said <a href="">these problems</a> didn&#8217;t exist outside the versifying set.</p> <p>In my comment, I typed and then deleted something like &#8220;Great, now I not only feel guilty on my <em>own</em> behalf for only having two stories out, I feel guilty on behalf of my whole gender.&#8221; I deleted it for two reasons; one, I thought it was whingingly reproachful, and two, it just doesn&#8217;t seem healthy to support more <em>guilt</em>, in however jocular a fashion. It occurs to me now that guilt is part of the reason there are fewer fiction and poetry submissions from women than there are from men, even though there are more female readers, English majors, writing students, et cetera. The &#8216;Time&#8217; section of the <em>Mslexia</em> essay I linked to above talks about how women are, even today, more often the primary caregivers to children, and do more housework than men. It doesn&#8217;t talk about how that cultural role may be propagated, especially how it wins out against the potential fulfillment of writing.</p> <p>I think women are constantly told to be nice, giving, and <em>unselfish</em> in our society. Boys are rewarded for being determined, ambitious and driven, virtues that in girls might be rendered as domineering, climbing and cold. In a million little ways, from being handed a toy instead of encouraged to reach for it to being admonished to smile at strangers, we are trained to be less aggressive and more socially adept than our male peers are expected to be. Some of this may show itself in <em>Mslexia</em>&#8217;s second section on <a href="">Confidence</a>. However, I think it affects time a great deal as well.</p> <p>Even if a woman doesn&#8217;t have children, there are demands on her time. I&#8217;ve been trying hard to learn to say &#8216;no&#8217;. It feels so good to help, and helping has been so thoroughly emphasized in women&#8217;s socialization. My boss needs me to stay a half-hour later. My coworker is coming down with a cold on my only day off. It&#8217;s not just me&#8212;my boss&#8217;s new manager asks her to help run a second store on top of her own. These demands are immediate, time-sensitive, with a person on the phone or in front of us in distress that we can alleviate. If I take this time for myself instead of giving it, I will feel guilty. I&#8217;m a nice person, I want to help, I want to give&#8230;oh crap, okay.</p> <p>Writing is seldom time-sensitive. However fragile the threads of meaning forming in the writer&#8217;s mind, they can usually be saved for the next quiet moment, the next stolen hour. Right now, someone says they need us&#8212;a child, a coworker, a friend, a boss. And if we say no, especially so we can go write words we aren&#8217;t even sure anyone will ever read, we&#8217;re <em>selfish</em>. </p><p>I&#8217;ve been called &#8216;selfish&#8217; fairly often. A young woman is &#8216;selfish&#8217; for pursuing a career or a dream rather than having children &#8211; even if, or especially if &#8211; she would like to have both. It&#8217;s not just that demands are made on her, tasks are offered or questions asked. It&#8217;s that her function in the world is &#8216;helpmeet&#8217;, her value contingent partially on her generosity, her &#8216;niceness&#8217;. Other people must always come first, that&#8217;s what we&#8217;ve internalized. No matter how hard we may try to gouge it out of our psyche, remnants remain.</p> <p>Writing, any kind of art, requires an amazing egotism. It requires the artist to look at the breadth and depth of the world &#8211; or just of humanity &#8211; and say, &#8220;Yes, I need to be heard.&#8221; It takes a healthy self-respect to say that in the face of our own tininess, and it is incredibly hard to feel both that defiant self-confidence and the self-effacement of &#8216;niceness&#8217;, selflessness.</p> <p>So we have to learn a new value system. We don&#8217;t need to be heartless or deaf to others&#8217; needs&#8212;we just need to rate our artistic pursuits higher on the list of priorities. Not &#8220;I wasn&#8217;t going to do anything tonight but write, I can stay late,&#8221; but &#8220;They only want me here late as backup, my writing time is more important.&#8221; Not &#8220;Oh, okay,&#8221; but &#8220;If you can&#8217;t find anyone else to cover you, call me back.&#8221; Compromises are possible. I believe you can be kind and be an artist. It&#8217;s a struggle, and it&#8217;s not something anyone else can do for you, but I think it can be done. </p><p>Now if you&#8217;ll excuse me, I was going to spend my day working on a fellowship application, but I agreed to cover a closing shift at work.</p> All night 2007-05-15T00:11:21+00:00 2008-06-08T12:05:17+00:00 <p>Right now, I am not working. I am not creating, synthesizing, planning, doing anything that will help or advance the work I have to do before today. And yet, I cannot go to sleep, cannot watch a movie or take a bath, anything whole-heartedly self-serving, self-feeding. It is obvious that I feel, beneath the me that makes rational judgments, that these moments, these wasted moments on the path to work, are also work.</p> <p>How so? Is it ground so thoroughly into my psyche that work is pain, that pain is holy, that self-sacrifice is holiest of all? So that when I hold myself away from the simple, ineffable pleasure of sleep, every second of that self-denial counts, somehow, on a scale I don&#8217;t even believe in? Another minute wasted, burned like an offering.</p> <p>How ridiculous, this idea that work is pain. It can be, and is sometimes, even when you love your work as they tell us artists must. But when it comes to you, when you slip between the minutes and find your place, you are happy and productive and all-powerful, and you are both surprised and not when the car starts across the street and draws your eyes to the sunlit window, when you realize it is now today. Will this minute I have burned with you lure the work closer? Can I find a way to simply pull the state of work down on me, over my head like a quilt against intruding sunlight? Or must I always, as I do now, work ever closer to it, brushing away the minutes that lie between me and living?</p>