1. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    17th Poet Laureate WS Merwin, on poetry and art:

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Forkfoot, Oct 31, 2010.

    From an interview he did a few days ago.

    Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment/july-dec10/merwin_10-27.html

    I strongly agree with this, and think art as a whole would benefit if more artists took these words to heart.
     
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  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Definitely. I can't stand to hear people say stuff like "I really want to write my story this way, but I'm changing it so more people will like it" or "What's more important, writing what you want or writing what my audience will like?"

    Write for yourself -- and, just as important if not more so -- write for the sake of what you're expressing.

    No matter what you write, there will be people who jive with it and people who don't. Write what you intend to write and the audiences will come naturally.
     
  3. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I (and Merwin) would say it should be JUST for the sake of what's being expressed. Like he said, "I think about writing a poem, and I think, I'm not writing that poem for anybody, including me."


    Or they won't. Audiences coming or not coming really shouldn't even be something the artist worries about, IMO. They should be true to what's trying to be created; nothing else matters.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup. Good art transcends the artist.
     
  5. Edward G
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    Edward G Banned

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    I like what you say here. I have story I want to tell. I want to tell it via the most perfect novel I can write, using every bit of education, talent, whatever I have.

    I think it would be an enormous handicap if I started reading agent blogs, thinking about publication, wondering if a publisher will get behind it, getting all discouraged, etc.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I don't think this can ever be true, simply by virtue of the work's having-been-created-ness. Work can be sublime, but it can never transcend its humanity.

    I also don't necessarily agree entirely with his statements. I think that a lot of amateur authors desperately need to take the advice and stop thinking about the audience, but there is definitely potential to draw on the audience and the commercial nature of art for creative exploits. The entirely insular view of art he takes is fine for things like Vermeer's paintings and Shakespeare's plays (well, not even all of them, in my view), but as soon as it comes to reflexive, satiric or otherwise externally-gesturing work, an awareness of the audience is almost necessary.

    I do, however, admire Merwin and his work.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong approach to this, or reason to write. It varies from person to person. You have people who approach it purely as an artistic endeavor, and others who approach it purely as a means to a paycheck. I know people in both categories, and I don't think either is inherently wrong or inherently right. Most writers I know are somewhere along the continuum between the two extremes.
     
  8. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it can. Don't tell me Shakespeare consciously added in every path of interpretation that you'll read about his work. We're talking hundreds. He would never have finished more than one play if he had to think all those paths up.

    Sometimes when you work on a piece of art, be it music, visual or writing, something happens. Something you're not necessarily aware of as the artist, or atleast can't explain.

    A published writer I know told me he read a review of one of his books that blew him away -- all the layers of interpretation made by the reviewer were nothing he was aware of himself, when he wrote it.

    I would say in such cases the artwork transcends the artist.
     
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  9. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    But as long as you are the one executing it, you are responsible for it, consciously or otherwise. Audiences might find new layers of meaning, but they're derived from a combination of the (human) actions of the artist and the (human) experiences of the viewer. So it never transcends that human aspect.
     
  10. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Show me someone who fully understands every piece he's done, and I'll show you a mediocre artist.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, everything we perceive is in that sense human and nothing in human life is trancendent, but I'm not using the word in such a metaphysical sense. By transcend I simply mean "rise above".
     

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