Saturday, 18 December 2010
Partly, you just can't see how to do it differently. You can't usually come up with something that new - even the new emerges out of the 'well-worn channels' of your historical trajectory, and is constrained by the emerging styles and habits of your recent activity. Partly, in my case, I suspect it's also a fear of disappointing myself. Not disappointing other people, not a fear of being ridiculed, or written off by those in the know. Avoidance of breaking out, of taking risks in new directions, seems to be an unconscious attempt to avoid the hollow resonance of yet another set of marks coming out in a disappointing way. Which is quite ridiculous. What kind of risk is it to make a wild line over a soft colour, to scratch roughly on something smooth? I suppose the risk is to that fragile sense that the shape already in the stone is quietly beginning to show its outline; that the outward flow of colour and form that has just occasionally not offended in recent months will be stopped in its tracks by the emergence of the unsubtle, the ugly, the brutal.
David Reilly talks about people orienting and running their lives in relation to personal maps. These maps come from society and culture, from parents, from experience. Unfortunately, we mostly can't see such maps; we run our lives in relation to their layout and instructions without even being aware of it. These cartographies are partly aural; we listen (as if our lives depended on it) to that chatty little critic on our shoulder who tells us what we can't do, or where we shouldn't go. And they're also partly verbal (though in our heads); we talk them into being, half-consciously, unconsciously ('I can't possibly give this job which is crushing the life out of me, I must be sensible and think about my pension'....).
Unseen maps constrain, block, constrict. They lock you into endless circularity, at least until you're able to see that they're there. I'm running some kind of map about the marks I make, or, more particularly, about the marks I don't make. What is that map? How can I learn to see it? The only hint I have at this stage is what Reilly suggests in terms of checking out the existence of your maps. The place to start, he says, is any place of suffering. Where there is suffering, there is a map. Where there is frustration, stuckness, limitation, safeness, pointless repetition, there must surely also be a map.