I read this great Paris Review interview with the poet Jack Gilbert earlier this afternoon and I can’t seem to get this quote out of my head:
The poem is about the heart. Not the heart as in “I’m in love” or “my girl cheated on me”—I mean the conscious heart, the fact that we are the only things in the entire universe that know true consciousness. We’re the only things—leaving religion out of it—we’re the only things in the world that know spring is coming.
We’re the only things in the world that know spring is coming. I love the imagery there. I love the idea of knowing there is life on the other side of winter. No matter where you are, what you’re going through, what you are feeling, etc, etc, there is life on the other side of it. Spring is coming.
With a bit of extra time this Thanksgiving weekend, I was able to finally finish Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography Steve Jobs. Filled with emotions, I preordered it the night Steve died and had been working through it ever since. No one has had more of an influence and been more an inpiration on my work than Jobs and I was excited to get an inside look at his life and work.
I knew I would love the book and I did. I had a hard time putting it down many nights and stayed up much later than I should have reading four, five, six chapters in one sitting. But then there were other times—and this I didn’t expect—where I had to put the book down, where I couldn’t bring myself to read another page because I suddenly had the urge to go make something of my own.
A constant thread through Steve’s life was his focus on making great products, on “putting a dent in the universe” by making a product that would change the world. This book made that passion and that focus palpable and contagious.
I laughed when he would berate employees when they produced anything short of perfection and I cried when the cancer returned and kept him in bed, slowly eating away his body. But more than anything, I closed the book inspired, knowing I have work of my own to do and that I need to start now because I don’t know what the future will bring. But if I work hard enough, I can create my own future, and though it will pale in comparison to what Steve gave us, I can put my own little dent in the universe.
“[E]verything we do, everything we make, is not about the beginning or the end of things. We may draw a line, but we are in the thick of life. We make for these middle parts. Every time we sit down to write, draw, design, paint, dance, we do so because we believe there will be a tomorrow. Every movement and each creation says, “The world is not done yet.” To make is to be optimistic. We get to make tomorrow for ourselves and one another, and we are lucky, because we are allowed to be engaged with the world and one another in this way.”
We get to create tomorrow. Together, we can build a new world, a world that’s better than this one. That’s what great art does—it momentarily takes you out of this world and lets you see a glimpse of another world, a better world. A world we too can create.
This is one of those things you always know to be true deep down but sometimes it feels good to let someone else say it. This is one of the many reasons I can’t wait for Frank’s book.
The stars always put things into perspective for me. Sometimes I take walks after the sun goes down. I look up at the stars and I feel so insignificant, so small.
Sometimes I confuse my world with the world. I turn inward, thinking my problems are the biggest, my stresses the most consuming. Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever get through it all. Then I look at the stars.
Because when I look at the stars, I see a big, beautiful world. It’s like stepping back for a bit to see the bigger the picture.
It’s the last week of classes before finals so the next few days look to be fairly busy as I finish up a handful of class projects as well as a few freelance things that have come down the pipeline. That being said, posting may be quite sporadic this week as I juggle these things and get some work done.
At the beginning of the summer, Frank Chimero shared what he calls a “Text Playlist,” essentially a small collection of articles and blogposts he has saved that he returns to every few weeks to read. I too have a text playlist that I keep in Evernote that I return to every so often when I’m feeling down or depressed or cynical or just in need of a bit of encouragement. In a way, I guess, it’s my favorite corners of the internet that I want to run back to time and time again.
Considering I’ll be focused on other projects this week and have no idea how much time the blog will receive, I thought it’d be nice to share the list with you today. This should give you a healthy dose of quality reading to last you a week if you desire.
The Most Important Thing I Learned About Art I Learned from a Children’s Movie
Recently, it seems like some of the most profound life lessons come from children’s movies. Toy Story 3 teaches us how to embrace the future without forgetting the past. Fantastic Mr. Fox is about family and learning who you are. Up is about how to experience life and find the adventure in the everyday.
There is a scene towards the end of the movie where Remy, our rat-chef protagonist, must cook for the feared food critic Anton Ego. Remy chooses to make ratatouille, a simple dish and strange choice to serve your biggest critic. When Anton takes his first bite, the entire staff waits in fear for his response. That bite takes Anton Ego back to his childhood when his mother would make him ratatouille. It made him feel something.
It was in that moment that is all made sense to me. This is why we do what we do. It’s not to show off skills or to produce a slick piece of work. You can’t put metrics on art. You can’t force it through data. People are illogical and emotional beings. The most important works of art are those that connect with the audience on a deeper level. It moves them and changes them. “Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it,” said Stanley Kubrick, “but in the feel of it.”
Connect with your audience. Move them. It’s not enough to just present them with something pretty and well constructed. You need to make them feel.