A wonderful professor in college gave us a handout at the beginning of the term that I still, and probably always will keep close- it is a copy of the list of “rules” by John Cage. I believed she wished us to hold these in our minds as we created our art?
RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.
RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)
HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later.
Each and every one is an invaluable piece of advice, but I am starting with rule one as I start out on my own life as an “adult”
I am posting this here because I think I owe to the few, but quite loyal, followers of this blog an explanation of my personal love of, relationship with, and need for sketchbooks and journals.
They are the place I have found to trust. There are always things I want to say, but rarely are they “safe” or “appropriate” or “won’t ruin my reputation.” In fact, I probably say too much out loud as it is, yet I still need that safe place. To me, the place that I trust is often not a specific location, but a book that I can keep hidden from the world- at least until I am ready to share that trust.
So I try to trust this place as often as possible. I scream what I can’t scream in the real world, I cry about pain when I don’t want the anyone to know about the tears, I write about the rare and valuable cheesy happiness-es when I feel no one would take me seriously- or even care.
I write when I know I DO have something to say, something that is, in fact, quite important and valuable, and yet remains something I cannot force my own mouth to voice.
Sometimes I cannot get things into words, even in a journal. So I draw- usually to music, my own overwhelming emotions, and in spite of my fears. Scribbles, angry sketches, random blocks of happy, beautiful colors. Often the doodles lead to more doodles and sometimes to more writing.
So I suppose I do have a more personal tie to this than I had originally admitted to myself previously. It has occurred to me that without these countless sketchbooks and journals I may very well have lost my mind- and, equally important, I may have forgotten all of the thoughts that become more and more important to remember as we age.
Just because you cannot share your thoughts with the world now does not make them useless or unimportant. Rather, these thoughts may be the most valuable to the world for longer than you can imagine. I don’t think Anne Frank truly understood the long reaches her honest words would have over the world. Picasso created great art- but he also changed the way we define art itself. Don’t ever think it’s not worth it, it’s not good enough, or it doesn’t matter.* If it’s in you, get it out.
*Please refer to Rule Number 6.
That is all for tonight.
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