Monday, June 17, 2013

Thinking about art and social media

A Kolkata publishing house has invited me to write an essay on “How To Write A Script” for a forthcoming anthology.

Predictably, I immediately feel a massive ignorance.

Which is strange, because I actually do know something.

I dreamt last night I was writing a new play and was full of the power and the joy of it. 

When it comes, which doesn’t seem to be that often, the intense pleasure in the moment of creation is worth all the suffering and distress that somehow also seems necessary in order to get to it.

Everyone I’ve ever known has that capacity for creation inside them; and everyone also sees to have intense suffering attached to it. Suffering that is generally due to humiliation we were put through as children, when our creative impulse was mocked or misused. There is something in the world we inhabit that is compelled to mock and stifle creativity. As strongly as it is also in need of it.

Those moments she comes, the beautiful Goddess the Greeks personified as inspiration, she helps us live entirely and beautifully in the present moment. What happened in the past can’t hurt us any more; and although the audience may have brought us to this moment, they somehow don’t matter either. Whether they live in the flesh in front of us or whether they inhabit our mind.

We know somehow, absolutely know, that what we are doing or saying is writing is absolutely beautiful and right and we don’t need to think about it.

I so love that feeling. Whether it comes in writing or in performing. 

A few weeks ago we filmed a few new scenes of “Sex, Chips and The Holy Ghost” to webcast (if that is a verb) and I remember the intense pleasure of improvising in character in front of a camera. 

The endearing thing about a camera is that unlike an audience, whose attention you sometimes feel you have to capture and hold, its little attentive light is on whatever.

There’s something very freeing about that. (Terrifying, too, of course, but we won’t go there now)

Making the little films was a joy; and it is astonishing that the technology is now available to create the images; and then to distribute them.

But then there’s something so dismaying about entering the world of ‘likes’ and ‘hits’ and ‘retweets’ and ‘favourites’: I think because it makes the least important part of the whole process seem like the most important.

How sad it is to be out in public places and watch lovers not paying any attention to each other, but looking down at their phones instead. Or parents ignoring their children in favour of their texts.

As if the present moment has become so unbearable in our post capitalist world that we are all compelled to escape from it.

I hope as an artist that doesn’t happen to me. Because if it does it will undermine the true foundation of my creativity.

And maybe it’s all part of the bigger picture: of our civilisation busily engaged in its own destruction. 

Not simply of the outer world of nature: but also the inner world of the collective imagination.

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