Let your work speak for you

I think it’s troubling that in the midst of a conversation, a person can somehow solidify their ideas as a viewpoint. That the idea can harden and we view that person through the lens of that particular idea. They wander through ideas and hit upon a snag of an idea and for whatever reason, start defending a position or attacking another position or just inhabiting that position temporarily. But we don’t let them off. We see them as that. Of course, it’s because we bring our bias to ideas and interactions, but it’s also because we bring our humanity into it. It’s not like a person has much time to sit alone in a room contemplating what their philosophy is, or even have time to reflect, in the moment, on how traumatic or meaningful moments in their lives shape them and their ideas. Let alone, shaping the philosophy that accompanies the beliefs they harbor deep within. But we fix people in their positions, and define them by that.

Even now, in this blog post, I write as if I happened upon a set of ideas that make sense to me, solidified. But the truth is, tomorrow or next year, my thoughts on this or any issue will have morphed sometimes incomprehensibly. They’d even be possibly unrecognizable to my current self. I cannot write or speak to all times.

And yet, we do know of certain works or arts or designs that are “timeless” in a sense. They speak beyond their time into the minds of today, and we assume they will continue to hold that kind of sway on the minds of the future. A Porsche. Shakespeare’s plays. The Eames chair. These are works that people spent years creating and they stood the test of time.

I’m starting to feel this way about how I would approach my existence as a whole. Isn’t it awesome that we know the Eames chair and yet 90 percent of people who know about the Eames chair have no idea who Charles and Ray Eames are? That their personal lives have no bearing on the appreciation of the object itself? We don’t need to know the life story of this American married couple to enjoy the chair.

In 2018, we increasingly live in a time where this is not allowed nor possible. Celebrity has been democratized. Everyone may not be famous, but everyone now has a way to feel famous, in some manner. It’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, et al. Everyone is a small celebrity (with a path to medium-sized celebrity). It’s the decline of privacy. And not privacy in the sense that “oh, this or that company has access to my data” but rather the privacy of our lives. The attitude that I have to (aka want to aka dopamine) share my photos, thoughts, and words is the complete opposite of an attitude where my work speaks for itself.

And maybe it’s nostalgia, but I miss this. Maybe I’m being old fashioned, but I don’t think so. There are a handful of people today who live their lives completely privately and yet still produce work that is enjoyed by millions of people.

This brings me back to the first paragraph. This idea of a solidified viewpoint in the midst of conversation. If one’s work can speak to one’s essence, than what does that say about fleeting conversations, texts, social media, and all that cyber decoration on character? For me, I think it means beating back a slow retreat from all of that jazz. If I’m serious about my writing, this blog and my published works should speak to the ideas and thoughts that I most care about, and I would hope tell people who I am long after I’m dead.

The problem is, of course, writing something that’s actually worth reading, since most of what I write is shit.