Friday, January 1, 2016

How Important Is Skill? How Important Are The Rules?

Some say the rules don't matter anymore. At least in art. However, write a blog entry with no proper punctuation or proper spelling and no logic in the sentence shructure and content and absurd zhould people probably. Should people publish this? the Reason, or the answer, is intentionally unintentional so that four of the leading doctors would say it's nonsense. Nut itis reelly? Reilly. No'reilly.  Yes, it is abzurd, zerd. Abbs surred. Slurred, and only aftah 1 cup o'java -- ane wven thiso poop

The point is, you can get away with coloring outside the lines as an artist, and even ignore most conventions altogether when making paintings and showing your work, but can a writer do this? Yes, e.e. cummings broke rules. But he was writing poetry. Short bursts. Finnegan's Wake did not make James Joyce famous. He had already become famous so he was able to publish his last major work because his name would give it cred. How many people do you know who have actually read it? (Yes, a page or two can be interesting, but it's long and tedious. Good luck.)

It's famous for being "one of the most difficult works of literature in the English language." This is not to say "difficult" is wrong, and maybe Wake is a poor example but even Joyce didn't just throw letters on a page with no rhyme or reason. For example, here I will type with my eyes closed, without properly placing my fingers... choosing a random set of fingertip locations:

eIEOFH4OITNV'oipef[ nu9  4'poijepo0-c =0=-9fWEF R-PEOJFPefn efpoep-3
POJRPO P'3OIRPOP3'R 4-09=-0PAJ93 830
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YIP 'W[IOI
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[-o-0itv-wjojwp'5oij'qp5oyi-0 n ti-]y50i]-50

* * *

Evidently I must have hit the CAPS key a few times, and the return key. Is it art? Is it literature? Is it interesting? For a few moments, maybe, but will this kind of writing get published in the New York Times? In the Hermantown Star or Proctor Journal? If I started a daily blog in such a manner would people keep coming back for more? Let's call it Gibberish.

If you want to be a writer, I strongly recommend more than just a passing acquaintance with the rules of good writing. Internalize the principles of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Another book that helped me when I began writing half a lifetime ago was William Zinsser's On Writing Well.

The same should apply to the visual arts. I suspect that the school system is making a mistake to eliminate arts education from the public schools. Kids learn principles that are useful and necessary should they have an aptitude and interest in pursuing careers in creative fields. Art in the schools is not just to help kids get a fine arts careers. Art and aesthetics have a humanizing aspect, and learning good design has far reaching applications in many careers. Architects and city planners need skilled draftspeople. The young students who learn how to use perspective, shading, and other techniques for making pictures usually acquire these things from teachers, not parents. They also learn how various materials work -- or don't work -- such as adhesives and scissors and different media. In other words, we need to keep art in the schools so the next generation knows the rules.

Like most things in life, it's a matter of balance. Rules matter. We disregard them to our peril.

As for skill... that's a discussion to elaborate on some other day. Have a great 2016. Keep getting better, whatever it is you're applying yourself to. 

4 comments:

garykins said...

Tsuj esuaceb uoy kaerb eht selur dna emos elpoep ekat eht emit ot erugif ti tuo seod ton naem uoy era evitceffe because you're not and only a few people who really want to know or love you enough will. I appreciate you my friend and usually read what you say to the end because what you say is with figuring out. Going Away Reaching You.

Ed Newman said...

Thank you, Gary. I have enjoyed the way social media brings souls together, my friend. Have a great and meaningful 2016.

LEWagner said...

Is
"eIEOFH4OITNV'oipef[ nu9 4'poijepo0-c =0=-9fWEF R-PEOJFPefn efpoep-3
POJRPO P'3OIRPOP3'R 4-09=-0PAJ93 830
I
YIP 'W[IOI
[4TO
[ojt
[pk
[-o-0itv-wjojwp'5oij'qp5oyi-0 n ti-]y50i]-50"
literature or interesting?
I'd give it an F-. :)

Ed Newman said...

:-)