But I held my breath and I kicked my feet and I moved my arms around.
Eleven more things I know now that I didn't know then:
(As always, when I say "you" here, it's the first-person singular "you," and I really mean "me.")
1. You can never possibly do enough research. That's okay: most people can't be arsed to google. And even stuff you are right about, somebody's gonna go "I totally don't buy that."
2. The more random crap you pack into your head, the better the art will be. You can make soup out of asbestos and the lingering memories of the romance novels you read in high school for the dirty bits, but it will be a thin soup indeed.
3. The creative engine doesn't care if you feed it Twinkies or filet mignon. It will produce as long as it is packed. However, if you feed it nothing but Twinkies... you will get Twinkie soup. Which is okay if you like Twinkies that much, but maybe try a little Ovid and see what happens, eh?
4. On the other hand, a diet of nothing but filet is likely to cause you to produce nothing but hard little pellets, and that with much straining. Aim for Twinkie/filet balance, I'd say. And some carrots. Carrots are always good. Woody, but good.
5. This is a hard concept to explain, but I'm going to try it anyway. I've only just about gotten it sorted myself. See, people like art because it's fun. Except for a few wrong-headed self-punishing Puritan individuals who think art is penance.
The subversive thing here is that, in being fun, it can also be thoughtful. And sometimes enlightening. Which is not to say pedantic. It tends to become laughable when it's message-oriented, but what it can do very well is illuminate things in new ways.
One of the joys of really good photography, for example, is that it can force even a non-artist to see with an artist's eye. To see negative space, and light and shadow, and form, and all those things that most of us skip over because we percieve in symbols rather than actuality.
And I think ideally what you do, is you do something *fun* that also has texture and depth. By fun I don't necessarily mean lowest-common-denominator, because lord knows I have no patience for that. But once you've found your audience, you have hopefully found people whose sense of fun is somewhat similar to your own. And you can slip King Lear in between the penis jokes.
Er. So to speak.
I think if you lose that sense of fun, you lose your audience. (The example that leaps to mind here is Lenny Bruce. Why yes, I'm interdisciplinary.)
This ties back into that crotch-grabbing thing blogged extensively the other week, too. Because the artful crotch-grab not only serves to shock and entertain and punctuate, but it's got a little thematic depth of its own.
I refer you to Anthony Burgess and A Clockwork Orange. There's a hell of a lot of crotch-grabbing in that book. But it's not gratuitous crotch-grabbing. (And how often do you get to write a sentence like that?)
Shock for its own sake is kind of boring, frankly. Shock in service of something else is kind of cool.
6. The other trick to making this work is what jaylake, last night, called "smiling at the strippers." Entertainment is a collusion. It's communication. You agree to be bamboozled, and I agree to bamboozle you with style. And neither of us takes the transaction too seriously, because that is where creepy or pretentious begins.
You have to be able to catch the audience's eye and give them a wink. Otherwise, you may be in danger of becoming an Artiste. And that way lies lolling about on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on your eyes, moaning "Woe is my misunderstood genius! Woe!"
7. However, not taking myself too seriously as an entertainer and an artist does not mean not taking the art seriously.
8. There are other purposes for that crotch grab. If that's what my right hand is doing, my left hand is off most people's radar.
Yes. It is a magic trick. And the real joy for me is being able to explain how I do it, and then pull it off anyway. I like Penn & Teller, yanno?
9. People who have learned which hand to watch are very hard to fool. They have to collude even harder, and more consciously, for the entertainer/audience relationship to work. On the other hand, when they are willing to do the work, they are the best audiences around.
10. Learning to see like an artist changes and alienates one. This is one of the reasons why it's important not to take this shit too seriously. Because in some respect, you're just some fool up here humping your microphone, and that's pretty bloody ridiculous any way you look at it.
There's this fine line between acknowledging one's own foolishness as one rolls around in a meat bikini, and being too embarrassed to commit.
And you have to commit.
Also, most people are not paying attention. (If you ever need a graphic illustration of this, go check out www.songmeanings.net and browse around a bit in the comments.)
But that's okay too; that's part of the magic trick.
I don't need to walk on water when I know that I can run on wine.