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Reconciliation Project - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Reconciliation Project
I'm in the process of trying to reestablish a connection to my older writing. All too often in recent years, I've closed the door on a piece shortly after its publication, as if the mere fact of its being out there in the world called its worthiness into question. The reasons for this debilitating attitude towards my own work are complex, but I'm making my best effort to sort through them in the hopes of feeling less fragmented.

People generally think of me as someone who spends too much time looking into the past, the prisoner of a melancholy relation to others and myself. Certainly, when it comes to my tendency to accumulate more stuff than I have the time to manage efficiently, this tendency comes to the fore. But this backward-glancing mode of existence is largely confined to material that I regard as still raw, not yet fully realized.

My published writing, on the other hand, has what I regard as the deathly aura of the finished product, something that is played out and therefore not available as an energy source to move me forward. The strange thing, though, is that this conviction directly contradicts the way I feel about other people's work. As a cultural critic, I am tuned into the way that old texts are able to become new. So why has it been so hard to grant myself the license I take for granted in others?

That's a question that extends beyond the scope of this topic. Indeed, it's probably the most crucial question I can ask of myself, the one that I have to at least attempt to answer if I am going to have a chance to set goals, as I discussed in a recent post, and achieve something meaningful in their pursuit. My hope is to be able to do some of that work here, among friends as it were. Rather than try to take on the full extent of the task at one time, though, my plan is to break it down into parts that can be more easily managed.

One component I have in mind, to return to the beginning of this post, is a revisiting of work that I'd consigned to my mental trash bin. Just now I was reviewing some of the piece I wrote only a few years ago and was surprised to find how many I'd completely repressed. Despite the fact that neither my interests or my writing have changed much in the interim, I had lost all connection with these pieces. In some cases, this has led me to "reinvent the wheel" when covering related subject matter, an exercise that is even more wasteful than my proclivity for getting bogged down in sorting projects.

Yes, there is something self-indulgent about such an enterprise. It makes me squirm a but to contemplate. But I also know that it will only work if the project is public to a degree. I have to share it with others -- with you -- for it to bring about the changes I'm hoping to achieve. So I will just have to trust in your patience. If one of the pieces I bring to your attention catches your fancy, I would love to hear from you about it. In the end, though, merely having you here as a sort of "passive listener" will mean a lot to me.


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2 comments or Leave a comment
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: August 29th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I don't know that this is so unusual. I used to work with a potter who said something like "a pot is always prettiest when I've just finsihed it". And in a related way, after a good shoot, I am usually a little bit enamoured of the subject. I think this has to do with the joy of creating, which after that point usually gets chewed up by the minutiae of publishing or distributing or selling what's been made, and/or by other people's disinterest/hostility.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 29th, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks for writing! That makes sense. I suppose a lot of artists feel that way (though I'm not really an artist in that sense). I'm not sure whether a distinction can ultimately be sustained between writing and photography, say, but I do feel personally that it's harder for me to revisit writing than photographs or drawings precisely because recycling is such an integral part of the composition process. I mean, obviously there are patterns that repeat in one's art, whatever the medium. But language is by definition dependent on what has come before and will come again.
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