Choosing Rather Than Creating



Photo by John Fraim – Annadell Park, Sonoma (2000)

Choosing (From Creations) Rather Than Creating New Ones

John Fraim


One of the major dynamics of symbols, as I have argued in my articles and books, is that they are large in youth and small in age. Just as life “produces” experiences (and all the objects, characters and media attached to the experience) it is logical to conclude that living life “produces” more experiences. They mirror the creation (production) of culture with the “things” and “objects” of life that become more numerous with each year of life. Culture is more than a language. Rather, it is a powerful propaganda machine.

In terms of the ideas of symbolism we’ve argued in the past, this movement from one to many relates very directly to those two paradoxical symbols America was founded upon: Freedom and Equality. Masculine and feminine. Republican and Democrat. Conservative and Liberal. Symbols have correspondence so many areas. The synchronicity of symbolism is always present when world events transpire.

If you can attempt to see the logic of this argument, then you can see it as more of a life dynamic with all people, regardless of culture, society, sex, gender, class, or anything else. It is related to a common natural rhythm of life that all humans go through. The movement from youth to age, from not knowing the world to (sometimes) knowing it all too well. From birth to death. Dependence to Independence. From the grand symbols of the Christmas years of youth to the smaller symbols of one’s golden, later, years.

So much life has transpired, so many experiences under the bridge, that a later life of reflection might just become one of choosing rather than creating.

Perhaps artists have a particular place in this respect. Those who are not artists in life accumulate many “things” and “objects” and “experiences.” But the experiences of life are not subject to being recreated. This is the realm of the artist. And beyond artists, the (perhaps) sub-genre of artist called an author and screenwriter. Somewhere between the two trying to conjure up some “hybrid” form down in our basement labs. I’ve been trying to do this for a few years now.

Over the years, artists either complete projects or send them out into the world to do battle or they simply do not finish projects.

Like me. I have a number of unfinished manuscripts, and a few biographies and a history as well as a novel and a screenplay. I can go off and create something new. But I think that the real challenge (perhaps being placed before me) is for me to know which of my past unfinished stories out there, the perhaps ten projects that need completion, which one to focus on?

Joseph Conrad had a similar problem when he decided to return to his “abandoned” novel Rescue many years after he started it:

“The years passed and the pages grew in number, and the long reveries of which they were the outcome stretched wide between me and the deserted “Rescue” like the smooth hazy spaces of a dreamy sea. Yet I never actually lost sight of that dark speck in the misty distance. It had grown very small but it asserted itself with the appeal of old associations. It seemed to me that it would be a base thing for me to slip out of the world leaving it out there all alone, waiting for its fate—that would never come Sentiment, pure sentiment as you see, prompted me in the last instance to face the pains and hazards of that return. As I moved slowly towards the abandoned body of the tale it loomed up big amongst the glittering shallows of the coast, lonely but not forbidding. There was nothing about it of a grim derelict. It had an air of expectant life. One after another I made out the familiar faces watching my approach with faint smiles of amused recognition. They had known well enough that I was bound to come back to them. But their eyes met mine seriously as was only to be expected since I, myself, felt very serious as I stood amongst them again after years of absence. At once, without wasting words, we went to work together on our renewed life; and every moment I felt more strongly that They Who had Waited bore no grudge to the man who however widely he may have wandered at times had played truant only once in his life.”

I often feel like Conrad when approaching past, unfinished, works.

Art is about creating. But when one has created an unfinished creations, it might be about which of these unfinished creations the artist wants to return to try and complete it. And which one begs for the artist to return to it, like one of the Sirens of mythology. Begs the hardest? The loudest? The most sublime?

Cactus Spring Trail

Photo By John Fraim – The Cactus Spring Trail, Palm Desert (2013)

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