A while back, I was watching an interview of Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal. He spoke very passionately, without irony, which is refreshing in modern conversation. He repeatedly stressed on finding the “blood” in your art i.e., passion. Authenticity. Not the ordinary amount of passion you and I feel while we go about the things we want to do. But, something that means more. Something deep and overwhelming, if not even more.
Now, you’d think this is right up my street. But, you’d be wrong. Being an essayist suits me, because I can flit from musing to musing without committing to any one idea. Some ideas endure, like the time I was going on and on about the relationship between love and fear. But, if you’ve been reading Of Opinions for a while, you’d be used to having a new idea introduced, and then forgotten about a couple of days later. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly two years now (which is a commitment I did not see coming; I’m proud and bemused), and sometimes, when I come across an old essay or two, I can’t even recognise them as my own. I didn’t know this before, but my thoughts seem to be as ephemeral as the attention span of the stereotypical social media user. I haven’t gone after the blood of my art yet.
Now, I’m not commitment-phobic about other things in life (except diet and exercise), but we’re only talking about art here. Whatever art, whatever writing, I hope to produce before it’s time to go. And it’s not just enough to produce it, bust any old rhyme, write any old musing. It has to mean more, doesn’t it? It has to mean everything, doesn’t it?
I am only speculating, but part of Bernal’s conviction might be the result of his background. I, myself, come from an earthy, passionate culture. People commonly read and write poetry. It is still acceptable to woo your beloved with poetry. Elocutionist is still a real job, i.e. reciting poetry you haven’t even written. Of course, there is poetry everywhere, in all cultures, for as long as they’ve existed. But, you’d have to breathe the air, experience the sights, sounds, rhythms and emotions to know why it is different here.
Except, I am not a poetic creature myself. I have no English blood in my genealogy, but I don’t know why I conform to the stereotype – I am embarrassed by emotion. I don’t know if that is a repression of emotion – emotionally constipated – as some people quite colourfully call it. It can’t be, for I feel them profoundly in the comfort of my privacy. I just can’t do it, passionately or to the blood-like extreme, in public. In any context. Even if it makes my art anaemic.
But, I want to. I really want to find the blood of the thing. I really want to be unquestionably authentic. We’ve established I’m aerial in my ways, but being aerial has its advantages too. You get ideas, lots of them, and try to work them out. You try to know everything, albeit in bits and pieces, and then make a collage out of them, to tell something new. There have been many aerial artists (Oscar Wilde, for example) who were more than comfortable to occupy the view from above. Finding the blood would be to take one thing, one idea, and be consumed by it. Now, unless you can actually find such an idea, without deliberation, you have to make do with what you have.
Bernal played the lead in one of my favourite films, The Science of Sleep. The Air Vs. Blood idea can also be applied to it. Stephane is a highly creative, imaginative young man, who frequently blurs reality with his inner world, often not knowing which is which. He flits from idea to idea, collecting or making beautiful objects, writing a song one moment, presenting a TV show the next. But, then he meets Stephanie (yes, Stephane, Stephanie), and begins to find the blood of the life thing, with the help of some of the aerial objects they both have in common. But, things begin to mean more, and complications arise. In a world where too many love stories exist with blood spilling all over the place, or cynicism disguising itself as aeriality, it was refreshing to find a story celebrating two people coming together through aeriality. That is not the only reason I love it, but it is a strong one.
A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity – he is continually in for – and filling some other Body – The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute – the poet has none; no identity – he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God’s Creatures.
I feel this maybe a way of reconciling the two, of not being aware of yourself as an artist (I discuss this in Of Being Artistic) with an agenda. But, occupying yourself to the extent of complete lack of self-awareness in some idea, for however long that maybe. Because, the only joy, the only reason why anybody would want to be making art, is doing it. The Work is The Thing, not how you make it, or what it means. But, just that you make it at all.