5 November 2008
Expository Writing Words and their Power
“What is your definition of art?” This question has reverberated around in my head much like that of a gong after being struck. It’s not exactly something you think about every day. Yet, I sit here wondering to myself how I define it and what I define it as. Do I define it along convential means and simply go with art as being something concrete such as paintings, music, or writing and books. Or can I define it abstractly as something that isn’t convential, something such as love, fears, desires, and hope. Defining what art is and what it means to me is like coming up with the meaning of life. Art is everything and nothing. It’s subjective and it means so many different things. Art, according to Dorothy Allison, “provokes uncertainty . . . more questions than answers” (287). I am at the point in my life where I too am asking more questions and not coming up with as many answers as I would like. However, to come up with an answer to the question of what my definition of art is and what it does for me is something that I can do.
Art is in writing and books for me. It always has been because it is what I identify the most with.
Writing has always been my passion and will continue to be until the day I am no longer walking this plane of existence. Books have always been part of my life for as long as I can remember.
These two things have always my “Rorschach test, the projective hologram of [my] secret lif[e]”
(288). While other little girls were playing with Barbie dolls and tea parties I was holed up in my
room with the latest book or writing down stories that I thought were the greatest thing in the world. I filled pages and pages with what I thought were art and I thought it was beautiful. In the mind of a ten year old story about dragons and princesses were beautiful. I grew up and grew older and time passed. I continued to read stories and write ones of my own. It has been during my late teenage years and into my twenties that I have really begun to understand the power of the written word and how much of an impact it can on a seemingly ordinary life.
A good piece of writing within a book will move you beyond the circumstances of the present. It will take you to a place that makes you ask questions not only of the author but of yourself. It tunnels into the core of who you are and becomes part of you staying with you even if you do not always remember what the exact words of it were. It doesn’t matter if its poetry or prose that is being read that isn’t what matters at all. What matters is that it makes an impact because that is what art should do. Art should move a person beyond the realm of the ordinary everyday mundane turning their thoughts into something more than just the superficial surface level ones such as “what will I have for dinner or does Suzy have clean clothes for tomorrow?”
The first book that I can consider art and made a difference in my life was Rainer Maria Rilke’s
Letters to a Young Poet
. I remember going into the bookstore and looking amongst all the books that lined the shelves. My fingers skimming the titles none of them really appealing until I saw his. The purple pink cover with a yellow spine. It’s not a combination one usually finds together on a book and it is because of this that I picked it up opening it to a random page. I couldn’t begin to tell you what page number it is now it’s been so long. I remember though reading his words and feeling that deep spark of something inside. I wasn’t sure exactly what this spark was but over time I would begin to gain the “understanding [of] something that I did not understand
before” (286). My understanding was that this book was a piece of art work in all the little nuggets it contained within the pages. This book has been my source of inspiration for years now. The cover is worn, the spine cracked, and the pages stained…