"Start at no particular time of your life. Wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing that interests you for the moment; drop it at the moment its interest starts to pale."
-Mark Twain, in 1904, about his method for writing his autobiography
I have been trying to read the behemoth Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 since December 2011. Has anyone really read the whole thing? Then again, maybe that is Twain's point. Life isn't chronological. It only appears that way to us when we are staring at a calendar. So any reflection on one's life should not be chronological. But 3 pounds? The book weighs 3 pounds! That's a lot of wandering.
I have been thinking about this wandering thing and art. The old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" pretty much means "feel free to wander at will, without the linear restrictions of text." I have been thinking of this a lot lately:
Wandering is critical to the development of vision and essential to growth in general. But what happens when vision exceeds means and capabilities? How do you manage a vision that drives you, and gives you life but has grown complicated with external barriers and internal tangents? There is a common acknowedgement among artists that we are always chasing the vision, no piece ever feels finished, rather it is just the beginning of another. It is often easy for us to get so lost in the hugeness of an idea, we fail to distinguish the parts. I have made my share of Frankensteins - that is, a complicated piece that really should have been several pieces.
This has been resonating with me as I have been watching my friend Ilana deal with this very issue as she was working on her Boston Public Library installation. It's an imposing site to put art in and fraught with installation issues. Over and over I saw her adjust, re-evaluate and change coarse while staying true to her vision, but in the end it is still the product itself which will be evaluated. Sometimes adversity and sudden game changes suck the life out of an idea, yet sometimes it produces a more articulate, provocative and most importantly, honest art.