“…I urge you to get to work with all your heart, resolute on being bolder, crazier, more advanced, surprising, eccentric, incomprehensible, and grotesque than anybody else in music. I urge you to be a madman.”
-F.T. Marinetti, to composer Francesco Pratella
I took my second of two senior seminars this past semester, and in it we spent a good chunk of time focusing on Italian Futurism, the movement spearheaded by F. T. Marinetti in the early 20th century. Futurists, put simply, had a strong desire to move away from the safety and sameness of past art and literature and dive into more dangerous and unexplained territory. They had a love of speed, danger, and violence, and some of the things Marinetti spoke out on in his Futurist Manifesto made him seem more than a bit unstable. He wrote about the need to move away from cliches (which I mentioned in my post on Dan Wells’ Partials a while back), away from the things considered “safe” in art, things guaranteed to please the masses, and away from the simple retelling of past stories (seriously – how many versions of Romeo & Juliet are out there this point?).
But there is one quote of his I find very relevant to anyone who hopes to pursue an art form, be in painting, writing, singing, etc. He believed that, in order to be seen as an innovator in art, in order to stand out, you must tap into your inner madman and find the good material hidden there. This bit of advice that he offered to composer Francesco Pratella when he joined the Futurist movement was intended to aide him in his pursuits in the Parisian and European art world. But it holds true for anyone who hopes to become successful in art. Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing; be an innovator, do something new, and don’t be afraid to stand out, because otherwise, how will you ever get noticed?
Inspiration seems to be a theme of mine right now, so in carrying on with that I thought I’d pull something from William Blake, who wrote some pretty fascinating things. His poem “Auguries of Innocence” is a great depiction of his love of contraries, and the opening stanza has some pretty deep ideas hidden in its 4 short lines.
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
One of my favorite movie scenes is the very end of Men in Black, where our galaxy is shown to be nothing more than a marble in a bag belonging to aliens in some far off place. This scene demonstrated to sheer vastness of our universe and just how little we know about it. Yes, yes, I know it was pure fiction, but someone was able to look at something as benign and ordinary as a Cat’s Eye marble and see a small galaxy within it. It just demonstrates how randomly inspiration can hit and how important it is to always be on guard for it.
Ok, ok, so I’m on a Harry Potter kick big time and felt a quote from good old Severus Snape was in order. I hated him throughout the entire series, but once I got to the end and was able to look back and see all the good he did it was impossible not to shed a few (ok maybe more than a few) tears.
The reason I chose this quote is because it’s such a powerful statement. The mind isn’t something that can be shut off, no matter how much we sometimes try. It is in perpetual motion, invisible yet full of ideas, thoughts, dreams, emotions, fears, and desires. It is not “a book to be opened at will;” rather it is a book that is always open and often running amuck inside your head. It is important to take what it offers, find the good parts, and use them to build strength and character.
For those who want to write or who already do, using the written word as an outlet for intense emotions is one way to try and make heads or tails of things that aren’t easily vocalized. J.K. Rowling used her grief over the loss of her mother, to help her write the Harry Potter series, and as anyone who has lost someone knows, grief is not something that can be easily spoken about or easily put into words. The emotion behind her words was so raw and accurate it was impossible not to be moved by them, and that outpouring of the mind is what truly makes a great story.
Take a break to read a bit each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes, to clear your mind of all the clutter of the day-to-day.
Much like old friends, when you read old stories over again, something new that you didn’t know existed before becomes apparent. Maybe it’s because you’ve grown, maybe it’s because you simply weren’t paying attention. But what it really means is that it’s important to remember what was important to you in the past and look to enjoy it in the present.
Anyone who’s ever written anything can understand the frustration of writer’s block. But when put in this perspective, it becomes easier to understand. Sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the big or right ideas and needs time to really mold the bits of an idea into the whole of the final product. The knowledge and ability are there to get the idea on paper, but sometimes you just need time to get them right.
A screen adaptation of a book or series gives only minor indication of the quality of the book it is based on. So often it happens that bestselling books are adapted into TV shows or movies, and they end up being a huge disappointment. The Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments movies are testaments to this. Other times, such as the case with The Vampire Diaries, they end up better, at least in my humble opinion. A book can be crappy and have a great movie or series made out of it, and a great book could have a terrible adaptation. Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it shouldn’t be judged based on someone’s on-screen interpretation of it.