April 15, 2008

Belated NaPoWriMo Day 14

A picture is worth a thousand of you, apparently. But captions never contain that many. I don't think a caption contains more than fifty words. Perhaps some do: the pretentious ones. But those aren't really captions, then, they're more like titles. My photography teacher never allowed us to title (caption?) our work. He thought all forms of written description were pretentious. And we were high school students, the most pretentious people of all. I guess he helped us out a little. He also didn't allow us to shoot things straight-on. Our subject always had to be a little to the left or the right of the frame. We were in high school, we were taking an art class, we all wanted to be ex-centric, at least he allowed us that. My boyfriend hated the rule, but I understood where the teacher was coming from. At least, I understand now. You sometimes have to give your students ridiculous rules in order to get them to do anything even remotely right. In this case, he wanted some semblance of artistry (just without the pretension). Even artists need rules. Sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, lunes, they're all just jumbles of rules. But I will always feel like a dilletante because I have never mastered the rules of poetry. Nor did I ever really master the rules of photography. At least my subjects were always eccentric. They still are, although I fear that without the guide of a teacher I am starting to slip into pretension. But at least we had rules. Sometimes, I am acutely aware that rules exist but I never know what they are, I cannot articulate them. Once I tried to figure out and follow the rules of fiction and my readers mocked me for being so generic. And yet they find the fictions of my life convincing. When I lie, I seem to be able to follow these unspoken words that I cannot reproduce. And people believe the lies because they believe I cannot write fiction. They also trust me because I am loud. The quiet ones, those are the ones to watch out for, my sociology professor said. Because you never know what they are thinking. Us loud folks, on the other hand, we put everything out there. We don't even keep our own secrets. Of course you trust us, there's obviously nothing hidden behind that big mouth. As if us loud folks were too stupid to know when to speak and when not to. We're smarter than the quiet ones. You think you can trust us but that blabber is just a disguise. Underneath the pile of words hide all of our real secrets. Someday, I might just tell you a secret, and you'd probably never even notice. Maybe you wouldn't even hear it. Maybe you won't be listening when I say it over the phone. Perhaps your focus will be elsewhere when I'm saying it to your face. Perhaps you'll skim the words in the letter. You never ask to read my writing, anyway. You've never seen a single one of my poems. Writing is frivolous to you. Typing, on the other hand, is a different story. Typing is work. Work means things are being accomplished. Writing, on the other hand, is a pretentious weight upon time, time is money, money is work. Writing is not work. Writing produces nothing but more words, empty filler words to cover a page. Waste of disk space, waste of ink, waste of bandwidth. Art to you is not representational. It is nothing but empty titles and captions. Word filler. Perhaps I will cover my body with tattoos. With inked-on words that mark me like a paper page. That consist of nothing but art. You will never look at me again. You will never touch me again. We will part ways. Will you miss me? Will I miss you? At first, yes. But I will have my art. When I started practicing again I started losing my dependence. I didn't cling as much. Have you ever noticed? Perhaps you don't like art because you think it takes me away from you. But I would be more faithful if you loved my art as much as you love the rest of me. Because if you don't even love any art at all you can't really love me. What takes place between us, I think, is just romantic filler. Devouring our time and our space. I wonder what would happen if you tried to write a poem. Or take a photograph. Maybe it would make things worse; you've never been one for developing empathy. And you're a sore loser, to boot. I think I would love you if you loved art and therefore loved me. But if that were the case you would be a completely different person, a person I cannot even imagine, and therefore I cannot know if I could actually love you in different circumstances, because you wouldn't be you. I can only love or not love you, existing now. I can only know what I know; even imagination has its limitations. I am limited by choices, and sometimes I choose not to make choices, and therefore decide indirectly. Art is nothing but choices. Endless choices. Everything is possible, even if you are broke. I wish I had realized that before. I had no money (I still have no money), but I could have made it happen if I wanted to. Perhaps I didn't really want to. Or perhaps I really was that naïve, to believe nothing happened without money. I'd like to think I was naïve. Better than lacking drive. What is it that you lack, exactly? You don't lack money, that's for sure. I wish I could think that you're actually naïve. I wish I could think more highly of you. I wonder if it could be said that you've taught me anything. I heard with every broken heart we should become more adventurous. With love.

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