IN DEFENSE OF ECLECTICISM

Imagine any artist, be they writer, painter, sculptor, designer or blacksmith stopping in mid-creation to ponder if their progeny is “too cubist”, or “not manneristic enough”?

True originality is not fettered by self-conscious aping of stylistics only recognized, identified, and named after the fact, usually by someone else, who often is paid to do so by yet another person also not involved in the actual creation of the product. Imagine Jesus proclaiming himself a Christian.

A product is by definition, the result of entities multiplying each other, like the medium, the artist, and the message.

A product, in another sense, can also be regarded as a postpartum attempt to turn a creative product into a marketable commodity.

So  far, we have Commerce and Mental Laziness weighing in favor of Labeling by virtue of Genre, which is bolstered by the concept of manufacturing such a predictably marketable commodity that anticipates a track record of proven results.

We see the author reduced to an anecdotal footnote in the creative process.

As the mantle is replaced by a yoke, even the progenitor of the genre becomes harnessed into subjegation…”and if you ain’t the Lead Dog, your point of view never changes.”

The Trend-Setter is now obligated to follow his own trend.

Writers and Musicians in particular seek to find their voice, as if once it was attained, would be perfect for all seasons.

Who says a visionary can’t wash his own clothes? Or that a warrior cannot comfort a child? Why can’t an investment broker play jazz? I want to know a porn actress who secretly teaches quantum physics at the local community college.

It is my contention that with nuances of style, as well as stylistics, word choices, cultural prejudices, as well as instincts, tribal law, old wives’ tales, stream of consciousness/unconsciousness, colloquialisms, soliloquies, Religion and Testaments, Sincerity, Sarcasm, and free rein for your imagination as well as an appropriately low disregard for danger or consequences governed by a premise of accountability for all things you create should provide for a sort of Par Cour of words and ideas.

Who of us has never been left out due to some lack of cultural experience, or vocabulary or just savoir-faire? Why is it that the privileged are as ignorant of the proletarian, as monkeys contemplating their ancestors…or typewriters? How can a day laborer know the world of a department chair of a major university? It is up to the author to provide a fair accounting of both worlds if we are ever to learn anything from each other. Truth is subjective, relative, and malleable, but the pursuit of Truth yields experience, and understanding that determines our character.  Most of us act like we believe that it is easier to “slum it” or “dumb down” than it is to “play up”, but in either case, it takes a true impostor to accomplish either one.

Writers are, after all impostors by their nature. How else can one develop a character outside their own experience? Use of language, especially vernacular without understanding the mindset of your imaginary friend, or your adversary is like dressing a chimpanzee in clerical robes to play the part  of the Pope. Before you breathe life into them, decide how to use their natures without resorting to stereotypes of characters to accomplish their actions. You have to study History, watch people, and listen to how they say what they say, and what it really means, as well as why they say it.

What is universal to human nature? Is there really such a thing? Are any emotions or states of mind unique to all of our species?

“To Thine own self be true” presupposes ones own self to be singularly singular. Imagine an urban city coroner describing the courtship rituals of Eskimos versus a fundamentalist theologian describing the Kama Sutra. See through the eyes of others. Go outside of your comfort zone, even if it gets your ass kicked. Experience.

The bee makes honey by going from flower to flower, regardless of species.

Juxtapositioning synchronicity between seemingly incongruous contrasts of style, mood, tone, texture, dialogues, digressions, viewpoints, pathologies, and dialects, may seem inappropriate, even unrealistic or unfocused and lacking a singularity of purpose or direction, when in fact, self-replicating chaos is the norm, and it requires more than a little imbalance to see the patterns, or connections amidst the confusion, noise, and interruptions.

Romanticism ahead, surrealism on my left, impressionism on my right, and Dada on my back. Who says you can’t see with two different eyes at the same time?

The point is that nothing is sacred, any more than anything is necessarily profane in and of itself. Context is everything. Labels are irrelevant. Creation exists in the moment, and originality precludes rules or formulae. Trends and movements become arcane as quickly as they are named, going from postpartum to post-mortem in less time than it takes for vultures to feed on carrion. By the time a work gets published in a high-school literature text, all that is left are the bones once the public has finished making Snak-Paks of the Moveable Feast.

To use an example, before Edgar Allen Poe took France by storm, French was an almost exclusively literal language. Musical notes or passages were not referred to by color, or temperature, for instance. Enter Msr. Rimbaud, and voila! A Season in Hell. The Drunken Boat. The language, as well as the imagination of the writers was forever changed. Unfortunately, their humor has been slow to follow suit. Anyone who has ever tried to explain the ambiguity of puns and homonyms to most people who claim French as their primary language knows they are in for an arduous task. They will always pick Jerry Lewis’ physical comedy over Lenny Bruce.

Classical begets Romantic, which begets Rococo, which begets Dada, which begets Surrealism, unto Kitsch unto Twenty-first Century schizoid Pop Culture. Indeterminacy is our Saving Grace, and eclecticism is our guide, and irreverence our muse.

Whatever it takes to tell your story…

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