The above snippet came from a Texas Monthly article on Texas songwriters I read on the plane this morning.
It reminded me of Ronald Johnson, in his introduction to radi os, a long poem made by erasing words from Milton’s Paradise Lost: “I composed the holes.” (Johnson was quoting a composer whose name I forget at the moment.)
Composing the holes. That’s what we do when we craft a piece of art, whether it’s drawing or making a blackout poem.
It’s often the holes in pieces of art that make them interesting. What isn’t shown vs. what is.
The same could be said of people. What makes them interesting isn’t just what they’ve experienced, but what they haven’t experienced.
Devoting yourself to something means shutting out other things.
When it comes to education, it’s not just the holes, but the order you fill them in. For instance, if you read the canon straight through, from Homer to McCarthy (or whoever), how original would the connections in your mind be? Better to start with one author you love, who speaks to you, and move in every direction, backwards, forwards, sideways…the juxtapositions you see and the connections you make in your brain will be more unique.
The same is true when you make art: you must embrace your limitations and keep moving.
Compose your holes.
(Written on my iPhone in the Houston airport.)
“Devoting yourself to something means shutting out other things.”
The etymology of “decide” is “cut off.”
Lucas Foss — the composer, that is, whose name you couldn’t call up.
Austin Kleon says