Many Means, Many Ends

Yesterday I posted about how I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the projects I’ve got going on. The truth is that I create hardly any art (and writing and music and 3d objects and graphic design and web design) for its own sake. I know, I know, aaaaarrrrtissssts are supposed to be infatuated with their work just because aaaaarrrrrt.

There are, and have been, many creators who produce a masterpiece after a vision grabs them and send it out into the world with no context. That’s awesome, but that’s not how it happens for me. In my world, every random doodle and phrase hooks itself up with other ideas I’ve had, adding to the demand for connecting projects. (I have lists.) Some of my work could stand on its own, I suppose, but nothing has to. It’s all part of a big neural knot, and I think that’s more fun.

Does Any Idea Really Stand Alone?

If you can think of one, I’d like to hear it. All of our ideas come from other ideas and connect up with still more ideas. Conceptual reality would fall apart–both for individuals and, perhaps, the collective conscious–if all the little nodes didn’t have their associations. Art is the act of exploring these associations and forging new paths between nodes. Most often it’s predictable and formulaic, but sometimes you get a surprise that connects two unrelated ideas and becomes something more than the sum of its parts.

Several years ago, my husband asked me to draw a cartoon about conjoined twins joined at the beard. I did so. A lot of humor comes from surprise juxtaposition of unrelated concepts, and this one works well. It seems pretty self-contained, right? Doesn’t really need any explanation.

Two men joined at the tip of their very long beard. One looks annoyed; the other looks like a loud, crazy person. The caption reads: "Mortimer often resented his conjoined idiot twin, Argylus, with whom he was obliged to share a beard."

But oh, no, we couldn’t stop there. Last year, while I was working on the first draft of one of my novels (of course it’s not done yet; I’ll let you read it when I work out the ending), the twins showed up again. Did you know they’re philosophers? I didn’t, until I wrote this paragraph:

“…look there, at the end of the bar, on the two stools closest to the peanut bin. Those toga-sporting gentlemen are Mortimer and Argylus Axyristophes, the two-man power philosophy team who also happen to be conjoined twins: two bodies, two minds, one beard. Buy them two drinks and ask them about the meaning of life. The debate will provide an entire night’s worth of entertainment, and you’ll leave with plenty of new concepts to ponder. Or, buy them one drink and get ready for the most unusual bar brawl you’ve ever seen.”

Is that the extent of Mortimer and Argylus’ appearances in my world? Probably not. They’ve got lives, and they’ll show up again with more input when they’re ready. They’ll probably end up in their own series. Or maybe they’ll teach a philosophy course at GXU. Who knows? My artistic technique usually involves more sudden connections and visionary flashes than planned paths.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my outlines and to-do lists are calling.

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