Monday, March 03, 2008

Tonight, I feel stupid. Not because I’ve done or said anything I regret - doing that usually just leaves me feeling guilty - but because I’ve been operating to close to my limits. I always feel stupid, in effect, after I try and do or say something really smart.

Tonight I was trying to write something about visual art, I walked past the tate modern and I remembered how strange it is that I, a generally fairly cultured bloke, can’t look at the stuff in there without giggling. I was trying to make some kind of intelligent point about authorship and interpretation, but my argument just writhed around, getting longer and longer, each sentence gaining more and more clauses and sub clauses, until it finally wound round, bit itself on the arse, and collapsed under its own weight. Like writing a fifty word sentence with 6 commas about how annoying it is when you write long sentences.

I’ve always been a little baffled by the reception that my writing used to get at university. Lecturers would use words like ‘lucid’ and ‘articulate’ to describe prose that looked, to me, like a pale, fumbling imitation of the fluid ideas that I could never quite put into words. That sentence, for example, doesn’t really cover it. It makes it sound like I’ve got amazing ideas in my head that I can’t put into words. That’s not it. Ideas are words. I’ve realised that, for me at least, there’s no abstract firmament from which I pluck the raw inspiration for what I write or say. I think in English, usually poorly punctuated, inarticulate English, and what comes out in writing and speech is really as refined as my ideas get, sad though that is. What I meant was that the writing always looked like a pale imitation of the words of others who thought in much clearer English than I.

Now I’m dethinking myself, in the hope of being able to get to sleep, by writing this dense little Blog post. A post which, if it is coherent in the slightest, is only coherent because it’s the same line I’ve been wheeling out over and over again in an attempt to make myself sound brainy, by pointing out how inarticulate I am in the most flowery language I can manage.

I’ll probably post the arty ramble when I’ve talked to my dad about it, and plundered his ideas to fill the gaps in my own thinking.

On a lighter, less emo note. Devon Sproule is rather good. Even if she does have a really weird name.