Today was a crackerjack day both literally and figuratively.
I watched the film, Beauty is Embarrassing, about the life of the artist Wayne White (more on this later). Then I took my dog for a walk at the park, read the genesis and half of the script to the 1967 flick, Point Blank (love this blog, love that film) and then, jack, my head filled with lead cracks and I collapsed beneath waves deep and dark as Alcatraz.
|Sweet Heaven, what a tagline!|
Has light ever speared your eye socket? Has sound ever become fire that burns the sweet cilia of your ear canal? Have time and space ever folded into a black hole directly inside your skull? If not, well, then brother you haven't really lived! When brain becomes blender thoughts become drowned, volatile ghosts.
Twelve hours later and something like a mind has slowly re-congealed in my skull. Right before the explosion, I had tried to write Wayne White's wife a note, I fear I did a rather poor job of it. The documentary, Beauty is Embarrassing , chronicles White's artistic journey from pastoral Tennessee life to moving to NYC to success with Pee Wee's Playhouse to LA disillusionment to metamorphism into a fine artist. Despite, or maybe because of the lingering traces of darkness in his soul, traveling with White is a glorious often times hilarious and moving adventure. I would defy anyone who watches the film (and you should, you really should) to try and not fall in love with White, his many artistic raconteurs and his family. The explanation of the title of the film, which is taken from one of White's live presentations is worth the price of admission alone.
I had first become aware of White's work after seeing an article about his paintings in Juxtapoz magazine, so I had come to the documentary with only the expectation of learning more about an artist whose work I was curious about. However, the family aspect of the film was something that resonated with me on a far deeper level than I could have expected. The film shows the sacrifices that Mimi Pond (White's wife and a talented artist in her own right) has to make to support White and raises their quite lovely children. That this should be the case, is not overly surprising; sacrifices are made in order to keep all long term relationships intact.
So what is it about this aspect of the film that my mind keeps chewing on? Staring at a box of crackerjacks on my kitchen counter my eyes alighted on the phrase, "Prize Inside" and the answer came to me.
What I think it is and that which I failed to convey in the email I sent to Mimi Pond is that belief is the fuel that powers the engine of creativity. Without belief, how could any creator step out upon the precipices of imagined worlds, journey across the tundras of their souls to express what is right, and true within themselves? Wayne White plays the banjo, dances a mean Charleston shuffle and is a fantastically gifted artist, craftsman, and humorist. These things are innate gifts of his imagination that no one had to give him.
But there is a demarcation line between imagination (acts of the mind) and creativity (acts of creation) and I think it is belief given freely from someone outside ourselves that allows us to surpass our internal boundaries and bring forth into the world truly creative endeavors. And, yes, it may be true there is a power to be had in disbelief as well. When you are alone, with no one to believe in you or when people tell you that you are worthless, it's natural to respond with rebellion to scream and rage and tear forth from your soul acts of creation. But I feel that there is an intrinsic difference between these two forms of creation. So, while I'm sure Wayne White's life would have been a smashing success if he had never met and married Mimi Pond, I'm also just as sure that the things he would have created on this altered time line would not have been as filled with light, and life and humor as his current career trajectory.
This, then is the idea that sticks with me:
If you remove the terms marriage, religion, relationship, you remove the art, remove the success and the fame, what you are left with is the story of two people who chose to believe in each other and in doing so changed their worlds both internal and external. That, in itself, is an act of creativity, an act of creation and that can be the prize inside of each our lives.