Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Good Book or Stating the Bleeding Obvious?

I was visiting my friend in Belfast yesterday and she's got a pretty battered copy of Art & Fear. It's one of those books that you pick up and read, quickly immersing yourself, where you find yourself nodding your head vehemently, agreeing with most of the points that it makes.

If you're at the point, either as an artist or writer, where you're wondering what the point of it all is: why you've taken all the right steps to learn your craft; why you've spent years practicing that craft; why some stuff is accepted by others and why some stuff is detested, then this could prove a book beneficial to you as a companion to read on those nights when you feel that your work is worthless, stupid and what is the point anyway.

Or, you could equally read this book on one of those rare days when you've had a good idea, and it has worked its way onto the page/clay/canvas/photographic paper and it's nearly, nearly there, but you feel that something is blocking its completion.

It is a book about ideas, and of ideas. Yet it is explained in such a down to earth manner that you forget that it is a book of abstract concepts, which confirms and argues past all those long-held suspicions about art, the making of art, critical evaluation and reputations, and art academia. Put a copy on your wish-list or treat yourself and get past the fears that hold you back in your art.


Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Barbara, thank you very much for your comment to my post on Eliot. I totally agree with you.

And absolutely fundamental and totally correspondent to what I feel is the "ah" at the end of the poem. I am not a passionate football fan but I have often compared that feeling, on the final lines of a poem that pierces you, to the one when a goal is scored and you raise your arms to the sky.
It's what I did when I was a child watching football ( also now from time to time ) and it's what I do regularly after the final line of poems by R.S. Thomas or Elisabeth Bishop and others.
And very close to what happens with a book like the one you are are considering in this latest post of yours.
It's also what I tell my students it should happen...That! with a poem or even paragraphs or prose, That... much more important than "studying" the work.
Best wishes, Davide

Cailleach said...

That's it Davide - you need not be able to deconstruct the poem (although that in itself is interesting and illuminating), but be able to be receptive to the meaning. Thanks for continuing this conversation :)

Liz said...

Barbara, this book sounds right up my street at the moment - hadn't heard of it before. Looking forward to a poke through it - I sure could be doing with the obvious being stated just now ; )

Cailleach said...

It's a very affirming book and looks like one of those underground classics, Liz. Hope you get hold of a copy.

Lee said...

Funny thing, I found Art & Fear a bit too American self-help, a bit too 'unlock the inner artist in everyone', a bit too
simplistic ... and yet ... and yet ... Sometimes we do need cheering up and cheering on.