Friday, November 14, 2008

unexposed thoughts (revisted)

about a year and a half ago i wrote a post concerning the idea of unfilled creative ideas. i referenced the following excerpt from the year of magical thinking by joan didion:

"why had he forgotten to bring his note cards to dinner that night? had he not warned me when i forgot my own notebook that the ability to take a note when something came to mind was the difference between being able to write and not being able to write?"

i recently read a passage in david lynch's book, catching the big fish, that rekindled my worries on this theme:

"...this idea comes to you, you can see it, but to accomplish it you need what i call a 'setup''s crucial to have a setup, so that, at any given moment, when you get an idea, you have the place and the tools to make it happen...if you don't have a setup there are times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together. and the idea just sits there and festers. over time, it will go away. you didn't fulfill it - and that's just a heartache."

for all intents and purposes, when i really boil it down, the only crucial element to my 'setup' is a camera. of course, i happen to shoot film, so i need that as well, and eventually i need to deal with processing that film, but really, as long as i have a camera of some kind, i have all the setup i need.

as it turns out, i own 6 cameras. 6 little magic traps.

and yet: i didn't shoot for most of the summer. i'm not really sure why. i can say for sure that the humid days and the trees full of leaves didn't fit well into the ominous spirit that i envision for this project. but as to why i didn't shoot an interim project, i simply cannot say. i just never brought my camera out with me. or rather i didn't bring any of my cameras out with me. i did, however, spend a considerable amount of time gathering my thoughts and just looking.

i think there is something to be said for that too, for just thinking and looking. recently i returned to most of the places i had cataloged and photographed them. these are places i had observed nearly every day while walking to work. i had imagined and re-imagined specific photographs over and over again each time i passed by. i knew what times of day i wanted to visit each scene, how the light would be compelled to fall at such times, how i would choreograph the frames. so the images were there, already well formed in my mind, all that was left was to expose them to film.

as of today i haven't seen any of the pictures, but i feel very much like i have been shooting with purpose these last few weeks, that this idea that has been growing in my mind all summer is suddenly palpable. all of this thinking and looking has not been wasted time. i haven't lost anything yet.

but the trouble is i have no way of knowing if the pictures i originally conjured in my mind are actually what i ended up photographing. i keep tripping over lynch's phrase "over time." because i have to admit, that given enough time, yes, those latent imaginings might have been lost. the idea's magic might have evaporated when i wasn't looking. the scenes could have rearranged themselves overnight.

(after all, magic is fickle that way.)

it seems, for now at least, that i have rescued a few of my unexposed thoughts from the brink of oblivion, but who really knows. this creative concern of mine has proven to be a constant companion. increasingly though, i'm realizing i'm far from alone. here is one last passage, by anais nin from henry and june:

"...last night, after reading henry's novel, i couldn't sleep. it was midnight. hugo was sleeping. i wanted to get up and go to my writing room and write henry about his first novel. but i would have awakened hugo...i lay very still and forced myself to sleep, with phrases rushing through my head like a cyclone. i thought that i would remember them in the morning. but i couldn't remember, not even half."

1 comment:

g e n O H v i e v e said...

i went to sleep last night
swimming in beautiful sentences...
one phrase in particular
had me glowing about the way
words can hold each others' hands.

i thought for sure,
i'd remember it all in the morning
as i let the beautiful thoughts sing me to sleep...

but of course,
the love-ly-ness
decided to officially move into dreamland
and i woke up
w o r d l e s s
grabbing hard
at nothing but air...

i ran quickly to this post
as to comfort the loss
and inspire a purchase of pens
with which i will line my bed
as an arsenal against sleep
eating my loveliest lovely(s)!