October 17, 2021

The Responsibility of Art

George Saunders, writing in his brilliant book on writing, A Swim In A Pond In The Rain, pinpoints filmmaker Vittorio de Sica’s 1948 film Bicycle Thieves as an example of the responsibility required to create vivifying art:

“De Sica was taking responsibility for every single thing in his film. Of course he was. Bicycle Thieves is a great work of art and De Sica is an artist, and that’s what an artist does: takes responsibility.

Consider this: a girl, Radha, short and unafraid to speak her mind, plods up to an old man, her family’s elder. The man looks down at her as she’s taps on his knees. “Old man”, she says in a pointed manner, and a smile creeps across the man's face. “What do I have to do to get as old as you are?” The curves of his mouth break into a full smile. “Why nothing” the old man answers, “but one thing at a time.” She frowns, walks away, and never forgets.

The act of creation is about taking care, (as Jurassic Park editor Michael Kahn said) one moment at a time. This can be the easiest thing one can possibly do, and the hardest. Just as when we see a piece of art that really strikes us, when we meet someone who really takes care of us, and is present to us here and now, we remember them for years. Those who are able to step into a task in this way are the special ones. They light up the path, and embody a responsibility for their actions that marks their work as different: a well-made bed, an intricately planned meal, a warm smile, a delicately written email, a conscious compliment. These aren't mistakes. They're an example of that universal truth: art is not merely trapped within the gallery, the concert hall, the cinema, or the theatre. It is everywhere, and in all of us. As Foucoult remarked so presciently, “We must create ourselves as a work of art.”

More Work
October 15, 2022
What I wish I'd known entering the commercial industry

Right at the beginning of my career I had a meeting that felt like it would change everything. It didn't, but 7 years later, I can see how I could have improved on it.

April 9, 2022
Gloopy Time 💧

Perception of time is relative, but its speed of movement and allocation has been warped by Capitalism. We can take back our relationship with it.

June 1, 2022
Berlin after 1.5 Years

I’ve now been based in Berlin for about one and a half years, here are some things I've learned.

May 27, 2022
The Green Knight Part IV: Green, What is Left When Ardor Fades

What makes the Green Knight story so compelling? Much of the reason why it still captures so much attention nearly a thousand years after it was first told is its combination of the familiar with the mystical.

May 26, 2022
The Green Knight Part III: Youth and the Search For Meaning

A key aspect of David Lowery’s interpretation of The Green Knight is to make Gawain a young, inexperienced, and hungry knight looking for a story to tell his King.

April 20, 2022
White Hot: The Legacy of Abercrombie and Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch stood, I think, for something sinister at the heart of our culture: elitism, vanity, and a certain kind of racialised, classist idealisation of youth....

Subscribe to get updates once every few months.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.