Know Your Own Bone   Leave a comment

As author Annie Dillard writes in The Writing Life “You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.”

Anne Truitt, the sculptor, said, “The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one’s own most intimate sensitivity.”

Thoreau said, “Know your own bone, gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still.”

Art is the most astonishing gift given, often through sweat and tears, that allow viewers and readers to understand their own life’s idiosyncracies, pain, and amazement at the wretched, wondrous, laughable, uncanny seriousness of being a human being in all the ways possible on this long continuum of connection.

Artists work in seclusion and live in their mind after years of absorbing everything from the way your brother’s room smells, how dust floats and lands after the baby pats the dog on the back, to deciphering what “I feel like I’m coming out of my skin” means the first time your nervous Uncle Henry first said those words.  Not only must you gnaw at your own bone and work steadfastly along the nerve of your own most intimate sensitivity and give voice to your own astonishment, you must put it down in the confines of words. You must do it well while trying to survive in a strange world that gives comfort and takes it away like a mean tease. A mean tease that you avoid on your walk home each day, but the mean tease changes routes and SURPRISE! What else can you do but keep trying to understand what it all means?

When we study ancient cultures, or other cultures, we look at their art, and their writing if it exists, to know them, to understand, to learn from them. We must have every kind of art in schools. Parents must be curious learners and encourage their children to continue their natural curiosity to have a well-lived and enriched life, and most importantly to be critical thinkers.

Not only should children have access to books, they need to see their parents reading books. They need to hear parents talk about what they are reading.

Recently, I asked my three-year old niece if she knew the story of the “Wolf and the Seven Kids.” She did not and I told her the story without the book, and she said, “Read it again.” She already knows the power and enjoyment of words! Hopefully attending school won’t strip her of this excitement.


Posted November 20, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

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