The Art of Quantum Entanglement

Posted: June 30, 2009 in pencil shavings
Green Bottle Red Star

Green Bottle Red Star

Some of my favorite art comes from people who use art to reflect the ordinariness of their daily lives.  From the genre art of the ukiyo-e woodblocks of ancient Japan, to George Carlin talking about all the things that make us the same (ever look at your watch and still not know what time it is?), the best art is that which reflects our individual experience.   I remember an exhibit of paper mache sculptures I attended with an old girlfriend, who had introduced this uninitiated runt to the art world; the exhibit featured face, head and torso casts of people from the artist’s neighborhood.  That was it.  But it was humanizing and pure.  It connected us directly to the humanity of the neighborhood.  I’ll never forget how something so simple could have such a profound effect on me.  Of course, perhaps part of that was the environmental effect of the museum, narrowing focus onto the idea and dignifying it.  Is that psychology or marketing or what?

So there have been many other examples of artists valuing the genre of their mundane lives.  Natalie Goldberg, in one of my favorite books on writing, Writing Down the Bones, teaches how the best writing captures the scene of one’s surroundings, the experience of it – saying that this, added with the distance of time and space, is what is truly interesting.  That we should take more time to record the scene around us.

I read somewhere online that the best comedians are the ones who “have a life onstage”.  Who don’t develop a persona, a la Rodney Dangerfield or Woody Allen, but who express their joys and sorrows, anger and frustrations, hopes and follies, and we as an audience come to relate with them, and know them over time.  These are your George Carlins, your Richard Pryors, your Bill Hicks’s.

I bet many more examples could be pulled from all kinds of creative activities.  What appears mundane to one is a vision to another.   When I was a musician, I had the virtue of being young and 100% committed to my craft.  It taught me things I could never learn in any school; things such as, writing the song meant never being able to hear it for the first time.  I would listen dozens of times striving for that experience, to judge the effect of my work.  But quantum mechanics got in the way.  The  Heisenberg Principle.  The reality depended as much on the observer as the object being observed.  Or in the proverbial sense, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The audience’s minds will almost certainly hold differing meanings from the creator’s intentions.   Psychology, this is cold scientific fact.  Concepts are heuristic aggregations of individual experiences, associations, and ballpark guesstimations.  What is baseball?  It is that thing I point to when I point to it.

In comedy, if you want to make someone laugh, the only thing you can really do about it is to write down what made you laugh at something.  To trust your own instincts and humanity, to trust that it is shared among others.  It’s kind of Jungian in principle; we all share a common heritage, that we may not understand, but certainly relate with.   Don’t try to understand it; just work with it.  You may not be Dane Cook connecting with a stadium full of young available women by just being yourself; you might be a wizened science fiction lover who studied himself right out of normal public aesthetics and mundane concerns – that you just happen to reinforce with rubber-tipped Vulcan ears and allegiance to the very rational “Principles of Surak”.  (I challenge Dr Phil to do any better)!  Your challenge is learning how to be honest with yourself, touching your own truth, your own aesthetic, finishing what you start, and putting it out there – and then screaming for attention from the right people.  They are out there.  They want to find you.  Help them.

Trust your tastes.  Open yourself to what pours out of your soul.  This is what people value from art.  The unspoken truth in their own souls.

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