Thursday, July 23, 2015

Art as Moral Failing

Friend writes: "Remind me hat the phase of writing nonfiction where you think everything is shit and bears no similarity to what you had so beautifully in your mind is not the end of the story?"

Current thinking: Kill your darlings, and then you get to kill the shit phase, too. It's not the end of the story, but over the years I've come to believe you can mostly excise it from the story. Now I just get a cold feeling toward work that's not good or just ok -- mechanical, like it's something that just has to be removed, not like it's my moral failing. I think what a lot of people experience as artistic failing is really a sense of moral failing, the idea that you have failed at beauty or its equivalent, which is to say that you have failed at good, and therefore you must be bad, and vain, to boot, for thinking you could be otherwise. But such sentiments evaporate when you give up the romantic ideal of art as good -- aka redemptive -- in the first place. And the idea that it endures. It isn't, it doesn't, and thank God. It's just something we do. Sometimes some other people get something out of it, for awhile, and then something else happens.