“You Cannot Print That!”
“Ian this is evil, terrible. I have nothing to say. You cannot print that! For your own sake don’t do it”.
“Why not? The theory isn’t a new one”.
“It may not be, it’ll upset more than a few readers. I do not like it, you’ll lose friends”.
I printed 20 copies of my zine ‘Lucifer’s Wisdom’ and posted them out to my two distributers for customer appraisals. I’m waiting with interest to discover if the zine will attract more orders. I am sure three decades ago the zine would have caused more than a few vitriolic comments. The title explains the content, and this essay is not about the zine ‘Lucifer’s Wisdom.’
I wonder about my friend. Is she concerned about my reputation or has the book offended her? I suspect the latter. So I ask.
“I sense its contents have offended you?”
“Frankly, Ian. Yes, it has”.
“It was not written with you in mind, it’s not a personal attack.”
“I know that. I’m disappointed you could have written such an evil diatribe.”
“Ah! Best we leave it there.”
No doubt about it my zine has damaged a friendship. Permanently? Or for a short while? I’m not sure. Possibly this essay will be the medicine which heals the wounds. If one writes from the heart (this is the only way), then there is a probability many will not like the subject or opinion. The writer’s words are an insight into his mind. The reader knows this with either conscious or intuitive secondary thought. The primary attention is a conscious act, reading the words and then forming the images or meaning in the imagination. The secondary focus is the ‘feeling’ the essay or story gives the reader. It’s the ‘I do not know why I like this, but I do’ or the ‘There is something not right about this.’ And later the primary and secondary thoughts evolve into a realisation very much like when one has misjudged a character or situation. The ‘I have decided I do not like what I have read because…’ or ‘I have changed my mind I understand his opinion.’
Writing is to me a personal journey of exploration. I write for myself, and I am prepared to expose my fears, doubts, prejudices, anger, dislike, desires, loves, pleasures and emotions. When I wrote ‘Lucifer’s Wisdom’ I knew exactly what I was doing. I enjoyed the thought that if I had written the chapters thirty years ago, the essay would have caused lots of anger. Indeed it still will. The question I hope the reader will ask after reading the zine is ‘Is this fictional or not?’ I no longer believe in the existence of the highest or the lowest of spiritual entities, concepts, ideas. And therefore Lucifer’s Wisdom may be a fictional essay. Sarah has a strong spiritual inclination, and I realise I should not have given her a copy of the zine for her appraisal. I cannot apologise for the content. I do apologise for my lack of caring for my friend’s feelings.
If I were to apologise for the content of the zine, then I would have to question everything I have written. I do not, some of my early work was poor in content and methodology, I do not regret writing any of it. I never will. The creative cannot succeed if the words, images or sounds do not come from the inner self. On occasions the conscience will be aware that the subject may be difficult for the reader or viewer. And when this is the case the writer’s jury of the mind (conscience) may question what effects the work will have on the reader. If he changes the sentiment to smooth the edges in the hope, he will not offend he’s failed as a writer. In my work, the more effect and controversial the writing has the better it is for it!
I am sure free thought and intuition are the reason the ‘few’ rise above the ‘many.’ Once the camera is used, or the words flow without effort the work produced seems to have more depth, uniqueness, and effect. Take the camera for example. I have no interest in expensive cameras, far preferring to use affordable equipment and learning about the way the lenses make the image look. Ultimate sharpness or resolving power becomes insignificant to the composition of the picture. In my mind, an image taken with a 1960s Super Takumar lens looks far more beautiful than one taken with an up to date lens with its razor sharp cruelty. In other words, I am looking for a ‘style’ which takes my images away from the mundane. When I gave the zine to Sarah, I did not think carefully enough about her. My desire was for her read my zine and see if she could fathom the sentiment of my writing. Her personal beliefs overwhelmed any possibility of this happening.
I am sorry I did not consider Sarah’s feelings when I gave her the zine. I made the wrong decision, my conscious mind was not attentive enough to my intuition and conscience. My writing has threatened a long friendship. Sarah is a gentle soul she may not forgive me easily, and that is not a good feeling, I understand and have to accept my writing has hurt a friend. What am I to do? Change the way I write and the subjects I choose to distort and test? I do not have a Super Takumar lens like mind which resolves my words without a sharp edge. I do not possess filters called ‘kind‘ or ‘harsh’ which can change the sentiment to the message. One cannot write about war with kindness or love with vindictiveness. Although I can write about a kindness within a war or a vindictive situation within a love affair. The hard fact is different to hard fiction. We can mentally walk away from a fictional drama and be affected by a factual documentary. The theme of the essay is now apparent. Words either fictional or based upon reality can effect emotions, destroy friendships, ruin reputations. Should this be considered before one taps the keys? I do not believe so. Self-censorship is restrictive and possibly hides or stifles the creative mind. This leads me to think of the reason that some ‘artists’ are difficult individuals. Is it because they are subject to critical appraisals of their work and the assessments are far away from the artist’s interpretation of their subject? I have no answer to the question, maybe the answer is the question.
The written word needs care. It is true that we will put stronger sentiment into e-mails and letters than the spoken word. I have had a few vindictive letters over the years, and I love them. Send me a hate mail or text and joy of joy you have made my day. I will share it, redistribute it put it on a picture. I will turn it into art, my art. Pin the print out on a wall, frame it and send a copy to my friends. The vindictive letter is like two Alka-Seltzer’s being dropped in a glass of cold water when the hangover threatens an early death. It’s a pleasure to consume.
The creator can design, record, write what he or she likes. There should be no intentional audience as the audience finds the artist. Many will like opera and dislike the ‘Sex Pistols’ some, of course, are eclectic, maybe John Lydon singing Nessum Dorma appeals? It does to me! And someone will read this, and just the thought of Johnny’s Nessum blaspheming Pavarotti’s version could culture a profound resentment of me for seeding the idea in their mind. That’s the way of words, actions and artistic experiment.
What is written as fiction can become a seed of creativity which manifests into a reality? And what we see in fact can become a fictional story. The question is, do I write from my heart or write with consideration of the feelings of the reader? The answer, of course, is one must fulfill the creative purpose which is to invoke the thoughts and emotions of the reader. Some will like what is written others will not. The more I write, take photographs and record my thoughts, the more I believe artistic creation is aligned with life itself.
Great read as always Ian