La Grande Arche de la Narrative
As I quietly put together a collage from supermarket flyers of a hunk of meat voicing its insecurities about being loved, I wondered to myself about the trajectory of my attitude toward narrative. To my mind, the ‘stuff’ that I’ve been doing for the last ten or so years seems to have become less and less about stories with any kind of extension, and more about specific moments or feelings or tableaus.
Case in point, to me, is that I used to write entire novels. Novels! These days days it frequently boils down to a smirking phrase or a poignant moment in a bird’s life, and so on. I’ve wondered if this is connected to my turning toward comics/drawing as a mode of working, rather than writing (which is what I’d always imagined myself doing, creatively). But then I think there were comics back in my earlier days which had narrative purpose, such as “Kim” (although the text was taken from another source).
My only concern, really, is that this lack of narrative speaks of a larger lack of ambition in what I’m doing – that I’m maybe settling for the cheaper laugh at the expense of exploring something more thoroughly. My counter-argument to this (and this argument rages on in my brain almost constantly, I assure you) is that I’m simply better suited to expressing what I want to express in short form. Perhaps I’m paring my way down toward becoming an aphorist, for instance. If I were to try and put a more convincing spin beyond my own tendencies, I might say that working in a shorter form leaves more room for a viewer’s interpretation, it makes things more ambiguous and thus somehow more accessible. At a more hand-waving level, I associate short form things, like brief comics or poems, with Buddhism and an awareness of reality, a lack of distraction, if you like – less deceit.
Anyway. I think this all suggests two things to me. One is that I’m not at all unhappy working with brevity as a watchword. The other is that I almost certainly need to push myself into something longer, since we should always contradict ourselves right?
Or maybe that’s wrong…