What is wonderful about that cartoon: not the plot but the stuff that could be considered the voice of that artwork

M said the city forces you to interact with other people to get your life, to get done those things you need to get done. It forces you to interact, and as you get sophisticated (or, what getting sophisticated means is), you learn whom to trust.  In the country, rural/small-town life, you already know everybody—everybody knows everybody, for good or ill. Once people know you, your reputation is set, as good or bad. In fact, your family’s reputation is set. There was another part to this thought that I can’t recall just now.

The grinch cartoon was on cartoon network last week. The TV’s guide info described it as a “curmudgeon” who ruins Christmas. The grinch as “curmudgeon”? It’s not wrong, but it’s not how most humans would describe that cartoon. It’s precise, just not accurate. That description misses what is wonderful about that cartoon, which is not the plot but the incidental stuff: the tone, the narration, the songs, the visual style—just all that stuff that could be considered the voice of that artwork, which, as I’ve come to see in recent months (or last couple years), is all that really matters about an artwork.

When you boil down/summarize a story into a plot, or a philosophy into one idea, well, lots of people have told the same plot, the same idea. Few ideas are totally new to human consciousness. But why you would cherish a particular telling of a story or a particular text or a particular writer’s/artist’s vision is for all those less-tangible aspects. Not that these are preset: you might like one artist’s sense of spontaneity and glee, another one’s (Verlyn Klinkenborgs’s essays) precision and … its cold accuracy, it’s precise polished brilliance, which is wonderful, but spontaneity is good, too, you know. “We tend not to do live animation. It’s hard on the animator’s wrists” [approximately] goes the line from the Simpsons where Homer is Poochy. So much of art has the polish, the “high production values” of Hollywood and network shows—professionals—even if the script is pure sh!t, tired dreck—

(pretty, byootiful—well, I was thinking “pretty”-denoting words, words that denote beauty, were themselves pretty-sounding (melodious) words—lovely, nice (but then “nice” is a feint compliment, or a dismissive), gorgeous—whereas words denoting “ugly” are ugly words: ugly (contrast hard “g” to the “j” sound in “gorgeous”), hideous, feo, repulsive—or am I just mistaking connotation for bad-sounding?)

and why I say all this is to defend my own budding belief in spontaneity—how I write spontaneously. Well, maybe that’s not the best word—though Kerouac uses it, doesn’t he?—”Spontaneous Prose“—and Dylan’s line about not wanting to do a 2nd take for recording—”that’s terrible,” as quoted in Beat Reader. The Beat ethic of not editing, though that itself can become an ideology. I mean, I admire Klinkenborg’s precision at times—I found a description (on Amazon) of VK’s writing, …[that said that] his search for the perfect word and phrase shows his love of words. And yes, I know Thoreau supposedly did many rewrites/revisions of “Walden”—and yet, and maybe this is just me, with my perfectionism, but the concept of having to go through multiple rewrites seems tedious. I’m not sure several rewrites are what I need. I tend to overedit and would boil my ideas down to that ridiculous one-line summary. M told me last week that my less-edited, more spontaneous email was better than the second, more edited one.

[From journal of Sun., 9 Dec. 2007, Journal 94, page 37-9]

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