Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Use for Art

What is this craving for fame? We long for a dense texture of agreement, enough random intersecting of viewpoints to make a solid ball of thread, never to be disentangled, not even by a kitten.

Being known by 2 or 3 or 10 differs from being known to millions, differs in kind (we hope), not only in degree. We imagine there are fame thresholds, points of no return, points beyond which the agreement that we are something special is no longer agreement, but solid fact, like pigeon-spattered statues in the town square.

Profusion of viewpoints, multiplicity of agreement yield confusion: It becomes increasingly difficult to spot the source of opinions that "everyone" holds. When you fasten a button, if the thread passes through the material (and itself) enough times, it can no longer easily be extracted by tugging it back out the way it went in. Confusion, randomness give us the solidity we call "fact" or "knots". If the same message comes at us from all directions at once, we call it "reality". It's what "everyone knows."

We long for the degree of randomness that is just beyond what we can confront, the point where we shrug our shoulders, saying, "It's too complicated for me - no one could make sense of it", in hopes of a permanent knot.

But ah! there is no reality too solid and confused to have a loose end. The most permanent creation is the creation we knowingly and willingly continue to create. And even where most of a "fact" (an institution, an individual's fame, the greatness of a work of art, the solidity of a planet) is a knot of complexity for which no one takes responsibility, just a single thread of intended creation revitalizes weary, petrified fact and makes it flex and breathe and become again a living thing.

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