27 June 2013


I wrote a story a while back about a salesman who tricked the world into never letting anything grow old.  It was a little abstract, so I'm going to explain it.

My friend Laura once went to an art museum with modern paintings. If you've ever been to a modern art museum, you probably saw a painting or two that you were sure was made by your two-year-old brother.  Anyway, she found this one that was literally a white sheet of paper with a straight line drawn across it. She asked the guide, "hey, what's the point of this one?"

And this is what he said. This is really what he said.

"There is no point."

She asked, "then what is it doing here?"

"Because it's art. The artist conceived the idea in his head and took the time to create something beautiful. We'll never know what his original intentions were, we simply enjoy the art he created."

Someone took the time to draw a line across a sheet of paper. I took the time to go to the bathroom this morning. Does anyone want to frame that on the wall?

I took a Critical Reading class last winter at Bellevue College,  where we read articles and books by a woman who called herself a "science fiction" writer but was really a political activist with a weird imagination.  I won't go into all of her rants on black woman's rights written under the guise of space travel, but there was this one book that went along the lines of giant insects living on the moon that mate with human males so they get pregnant with half-insect children.

I couldn't help but bring the question up in the group discussion. "Does anyone else thing this is seriously gross?"

The question was flung back in my face. "It's creative!" one of the girls said.
"Yeah," said someone else, "have you ever thought of a story like that before?"

I wondered whether I there was a good reason why I had never thought of that story before.

Don't get me wrong, the girl who said that was actually a pretty cool person and was generally fun to be around. But I think what she said represented the mindset of the culture, and it's against this mindset that I make my accusation.

The point is, the modern mindset is that it doesn't matter what you do as long as it's "never been done before". It's stupid. We're is obsessed with it. It doesn't even matter if the colors don't go together, or if the music has no theme or rhythm, or if the pants cut off all the circulation in your lower extremities. None of that matters anymore. I blame it on the salesman, but it's really just because the 21st century is as bored as heck.

It's a vicious circle that can only exponentially increase: the more replace something, the faster you get tired of it, the faster you get tired of it, the sooner you crave something new.

Come on, doesn't the world get that the human soul doesn't crave senselessness but consistency? Isn't that what makes life bearable? No matter where you go, you're going to hear someone tell you that you are unique, you're an individual, and there is no one in the world just like you. Why do we make such a big deal about how every fingerprint is different, and somehow manage to forget that we all, nonetheless, have fingerprints?

An amateur writer will exhaust the thesaurus trying to find new words to say a very simple idea. But a good writer knows that a repeated word doesn't suggest unoriginality, it suggests a theme.  It implies that something is important and needs to be paid attention to. The same way a skilled musician looks for the superhuman note, and a good musician looks for a human chord.

Consistency is even used as a culinary term. It means holding together and retaining its' shape, as in, "when the dough has enough consistency, it's ready for baking."

It's also part of the scientific method. If a certain experiment consistently matches your hypothesis, then it becomes a scientific theory. If it continues to be consistent based off of generations of data, then it becomes a scientific law.

History repeats itself. A nation grows, the government grows corrupt, the people rebel, they break off and start a new nation, that nation grows, and then that government grows corrupt. And so we have the story of the Roman Empire all the way to today.

How do we gain trust? Consistency. How do we maintain a relationship? Consistency. How do we tell the day from night, the summer from fall, or the winter from the spring? Consistency.

Are you catching the consistency here? Aren't you glad that life repeats itself? What would we do if it didn't?  In a world bursting at the seams with diversity, isn't it refreshing to find something common?

Don't be afraid of old things. Let the vines of time grow free--let them twist and tangle in accordance with the oldest laws of the universe--in rhythm with the dance of reality...trust me, it will surprise you every time.
-The Minstrel Boy

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I hate it when people criticize things for being old. What's funny is that the old things are resisted now; representing what is known and good is a wild and dangerous thing to do. Thanks for this!