Deep artsy thought (not mine)

Here are a couple of pithy ideas taken from from the endnotes to Voyage Along the Horizon, by Spanish novelist Javier Marías (written at the age of 21). Longest literate sentences i’ve ever read, by the way.

[The] end of a novel isn’t usually very important. In fact, people never seem to remember the endings of novels … and movies. Conclusions and final explanations are ofter the most irrelevant — and disappointing — parts of a novel. What counts the most — and what we remember the most — is the atmosphere, the style, the path, the journey, and the world in which we have immersed ourselves for a few hours or a few days…. [p. 182]


Nowadays, those of us who are writers spend a lot of time expressing our opinions about almost anything that happens anywhere in the world…. We are constantly being asked to take a “position.” or to demonstrate our solidarity with some cause or disaster or problem. For my part I have always made an effort to distinguish between the novelist and the citizen.
As a citizen, I have an opinion about far too many things…, and in this sense I feel very much a part of the world, and quite obligated to become involved in what is happening around me. As a novelist, however, I am not a citizen. In that area, I try to steer clear of judgments, moral codes, and … morals at the end of the story. [p. 180]


burningmanAnd the following riveting observations (emphases mine) are taken from an interview by Geoff Dyer in MODERN PAINTERS, spring 2003, with Larry Harvey, founder and director, and LadyBee, art curator, of the (in)famous Burning Man festival, held for a week around Labour Day in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, every year since 1986:

LH: The art market is a winner-takes-all system, and there are very few winners. In this country, state support for the arts is almost non-existent so you get a thousand people competing for a tiny bit of money. The ironic thing is that Burning Man has become the largest funder of artists in San Francisco. By making Burning Man a gift economy and treating the artist’s calling as a kind of vocation devoted to gifts we’ve not only been able to give money to artists but have generated a huge amount of communal support for them.

Q: What are you looking for in the artists you choose to support?

LH: The first thing we ask is whether they have a community who can help them and whether they are willing to collaborate with others. Everything in the market drives people away from this kind of approach, because they want to create a unique commodity that has unique value. We ask that the creative process have a social, interactive aspect, and then we ask that the work itself function to convene society around it. That produces a huge amount of social capital, as opposed to normal monetary capital. So in a way we’re creating a new kind of art market which depends on extended social networks that arise around the artists’ gifts.

Q: What was your background, LadyBee, before you started working for Burning Man?

LB: I went to the Art Institute of Chicage and was totally sold on the idea that I’d sell my work and make a living from it. I spent a decade in New York, became disenchanted and moved to San Francisco. Then I went to Burning Man, where artists were renting trucks and hauling huge amounts of material out there at their own expense, and going to huge efforts with crews of helpers to build a piece that would exist only for a few days after which they would actually burn it. This was the most radical thing I had seen artists do. Obviously they weren’t motivated by careers and money — there was something else going on. They had the experience of making the wtork, they had a venue to show it where a lot of people would see it and interact with it, they’d get a lot of feedback from the community, and then the piece would be gone. I hate to use the word ‘pure‘ but it seemed a much purer way of making art.

Author: Greg Blee

Poster to my own blog, and others.

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