Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fear, Daring, Working Blind

Being a magazine junkie, I was flipping through an old issue of American Libraries this morning, and a folded poster slid out, large enough to cover all the cartoons and taped items on a professor's door.

It said: "Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?" This quote from T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was writ large in celebration of last April as National Poetry Month.

Wisdom had actually fallen into my lap. And a dare: to say what I feel I'm here to say, and then "let the chips fall...."

Any writer or artist,innovator of any sort, risks making trouble. While I don't believe in disturbance as a goal in itself, ideas and art run the risk of being upsetting. Of drawing fire.

The Categories of Disturbing Creativity

What provokes is something new that either:
*brings change in tow
*points out a previously unnoticed enticing alternative
*tampers with a revered tradition
*breaks a taboo
*exposes something we don't want to know about ourselves
*insults an icon
*hurts feelings
*diminishes or devalues something that others have greatly invested in.

Most of these can be positive or negative. And it's surprisingly hard to know in advance what the responses will be.

Also, it isn't easy to disturb the universe these days. There are already lots of disturbing things going on, and we are able know them almost instantly. Getting a bit of attention can be like pushing a barge up a hill.

Even so, a lot of us hesitate in our work, worrying about the outcome, or trying to control it.

If I were to revise Eliot here--cheeky, I know, and the universe is no doubt trembling-- I'd likely make the question: do I dare to steadily work, without knowing the outcomes?

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kenju said...

I dare to steadily work without know the outcomes everyday! LOL

Peggy, thanks for the visit. I know that my daughter did see Cotopaxi, so maybe that it is - covered in clouds. Your trip sounds wonderful! I'd love to hear about it.Did you see the other photos of Ecuador I posted in the last 2 weeks or so?

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of the eulogies for Teddy Kennedy yesterday and how he persisted in the name of justice without knowing the outcomes.

Working without knowing the outcomes gives us structure and purpose, even in the darkest times.

Hurting others has been a great excuse for me. I try to shut off that outcome spigot and be quiet alot. It is hard sometimes.

Peggy Payne said...

I think worrying about hurting others is the toughest one, Anon. And it's beatable. In my experience, people get hurt by stuff that has nothing to do with them. And something that I fear might offend someone goes completely unnoticed. So it's surprisingly difficult to predict that outcome too.

I'll check out the other Ecuador pix, Kenju. My trip--to Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama--was in the category of careening-on-a-shoestring. In Bogota, had a physical struggle on the street with a guy trying to snatch my camera. And other adventures.

Peggy Payne said...

Nice collection of Ecuador photos, Kenju. I loved the angel. And the Galapagos.