My weekends are generally spent attempting to balance the tension I feel as an introvert perpetually fronting as an extrovert, who loves having a social life, yet is also plagued with the chronic condition of pathological independence*.
Don’t worry, I have filed that sentence under “things I would def NOT open with on a job interview or first date.” It is fine for here though, because I don’t really think future boyfriends or future employers read my blog. Quite certain my primary demographic is moms I am friends with on Facebook, plus accidental randos from other countries…
Weekends, though. Looking at the ones to come, I’m out of town for three of the next four, and working at least two, potentially three of these four; the same story as July. So this last weekend, I needed a pause from my restless inertia to retreat into my creative space and work on processing the world, totes alones. This involved a textile hunting trip in the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles.
Ah, downtown Los Angeles, where equally unrelenting are the cliche catcalling construction corners, and the putrid wafts of baked urine.
Unpleasantries aside, I quite love breathing & heartbeating with the city ecosystem of this subset of LA. It was the initial neighborhood my career landed in for the three years immediately following college, so it was the backdrop for an insane amount of growth and development. Going back to the neighborhood brings a fondness and nostalgia, and also a heightened sense of awareness and inspiration because it is a proven environment of catalyst for change in my life.
One thing I always notice when I am in DTLA (or anywhere, really) is the street art. My old office used to look out at a Banksy original. (Ironically, the PARKING artwork has been concealed by some high rise development now being built over parking lot). I’ve written before about downtown’s sidewalk stencils, and I would frequently spend my lunch breaks strolling around just noticing the artsy quirks of the city streets.
As I wandered and absorbed during my trip this weekend, I realized that my draw to street art goes beyond the message or the visual appeal and is more rooted in the beautiful ideology that persists behind it…
For a while now, I’ve been joking about writing Memoir By Char. As I piece together my introduction to my book, it reads more like the opening statement for the defense in a court of law. This meaning, I feel compelled to justify my memoir writing due to the fact that nothing has exactly happened in my life to warrant there being a noteworthy work to publish to the world. I was delaying the execution of my goals with, “I’ll write a memoir once I am famous, or when I am at least established or have figured life out.”
Unfortunately this actually contradicts my entire philosophy on art. During my time in Europe, I was blown away by the authenticity, the desire to create, and the fulfillment of personal journey that all seemed to be the motivators, the driving force behind the contribution of art to society. I was struck by the contrast to here in the United States, where so much of it seems to be about critical acclaim, financial improvement, competition, revenge or other materialistic and external factors.
Like this European sentiment I tapped into, street art is so pure. It is fleeting; it can quickly disappear should the neighborhood decide its presence violates the order of the space. As is a zeitgest — the spirit of the times — which fluctuates with the external factors that are always morphing around it. The artist is not there to see its reception. While a legacy is not guaranteed, at least in a physical sense, it is like this admission of prophetic, untapped potential into the universe, waiting to be discovered by someone who just may weave an element of it into their worldview, however temporarily or permanently. Whereas generally we seek an immediate value proposition for anything we face, with street art, the guarantee is not necessary to warrant the effort to create it. The driving force is based on potential alone.
“Prophecy. It touches a common key. What prophecy actually is, is not knowing whether the bomb will fall in 1942. It’s knowing and feeling something where someone knows and feels in other ages. And maybe articulating it in a hint that they will pick up on it in a hundred years.”
Are we tracking? Convoluted, I know. Take a breath, because I’m diving again.
Street art gets criticized for interrupting the order, like it is unauthorized somehow. To which I say, the world desperately needs more Robert Mapplethorpes and Allen Ginsbergs and European study abroad professors to show us that a work of art’s worth is not contingent on its broader societal acceptance, and that everywhere should be a space for us to learn about each other and our world through the expressions we choose to portray.
In fact, I think that when entropy prevails over order**, it offers this unexpected authenticity in the way things are NOT, rather than the mundane way we expect things to exist. It is in this zone of zero expectation and optimistic curiosity where everything has a lot more to offer than it generally would be given credit for. There is this generosity of output, an artistic currency that provides value for both maker and consumer. Nobody is afraid to create, because worth is not dependent upon sensibility within the system. And rather than trying to shape symmetry and order for the purpose of understanding the world within our strict frameworks of expectation, what would it look like to embrace entropy in order to learn about the world through the looser, creative, exploratory frameworks of what others are trying to communicate via their chosen manner?
I mean, this is why I am drawn to creative outputs in all forms. Literature, culinary, film, photography, fashion, music, bodies, architecture, dancing, identity, design — whatever the outlet is for our expression, any time we are creatively ministering through that vehicle of expression, this is where we see the most authentic version of people for who they are and how they view the world around us. It is SOUL MATTERS. It is embarrassing blogs that may or may not get seen by anyone, and alleyway markings that may or may not be seen before they get painted over, and side projects that may or may not get accepted to the publication, and all these other dreams that we take the courage to act on despite the fact that we may never receive the recognition we as a collective society perceive defines their worth. And sadly I think that most of the time we do not even offer these dreams enough of a chance because we extinguish the spark before it catches, thinking that we must conform to an existence within the order rather than the entropy.
The weekend taught me that I shouldn’t have to rationalize Memoir by Char. I guess I don’t think it fits into the same league of output offered by those around me who I appreciate the declarative candor by which they share themselves, in a manner that is just COOL. But there shouldn’t be a comparative order to expression regardless.
Yesterday, I found myself laughing at the general absurdity of my life, and I said, “I know that the stars are aligning, I just can’t tell if the alignment is going to propel me into a new universe of possibility, or if it is going to render me lost to a black hole vortex where I am extinguished in the abyss.” And at the time, of course, I was really hoping for the new universe. Yet after processing my thought train through the release of order in favor of disorder, at this point I am almost ready to embrace the potential of the black hole.