Polymath as Remedy

I hate novels about writing.

I hate songs about music.

I hate movies or television about Hollywood.

I hate art that asks “what is art?”

The first three of these were developed by me as a simple member of the audience for these art forms. I don’t want in jokes when I don’t have a hope of knowing all that the in crowd knows. All three of these are fiction anyway and if I want more, I’d rather hear the more honest appraisal of non fiction.

The “what is art?” thing is something I heard in defence of modern and abstract art. I once heard a critic say that this modern art dares to ask the question “what is art?” My opinion? That’s a stupid, navel gazing thing to ask, as with the other arts, I’d prefer my art to be about something. Since we’ve been pummelled with “what is art?” pieces for over a century, is it too much to ask that artists look elsewhere?

Everyone knows I loved Seinfeld, but in that long run they had those stinkers with the television show about “nothing”.

Paul McCartney, I don’t want to hear your comments about silly love songs. Does anyone remember the band M anymore and their Pop Music?

If I see one more writer obsess about the blank page in a novel, I will read no more books by that author.

There are two possible remedies to these things. The artist can take journalistic curiosity and apply it beyond their own narrow field. Ask questions, conduct interviews and above all research. I’m sure some of the best art has been developed this way. If the statue David had laughable anatomy, wouldn’t we think of it as being quaint and not at all representative of the Renaissance? The quest for perfect anatomy is one of the hallmarks of Renaissance artists.

The second remedy is to be a bit of a polymath. Look what John Grisham does by knowing law and the craft of writing. My favourite two authors of science fiction are Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven. One had training as a chemist and the other as a mathematician.

Most authors don’t reach their stride till their thirties. I suspect the majority of them need training in another field to become interesting. The journalistic method can be used if you have your eye on the earlier, in your twenties, success. I demand this branching out and I know I’m not alone in my opinions.

So I take some pride in my sister, Laurel L. Russwurm, and her 1st novel, Inconstant Moon. I personally know that she used the journalistic curiosity thing in writing this book. Also I know she is skilled in more than one area of knowledge as evidenced by the troop of university students taking disparate majors. Laurel already serialized the book and now it is available as an ebook at the link. It is a crime thriller. I take pride in that, too, as I’ve always liked thrillers more than horror stories.

So be a good artist and be a polymath. If no one else, then I will like you better. But usually if there’s one in a whole society, there are others. I just heard there are two girls named Unique in Alberta.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet
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