What does it really mean to be finding time to accept new forms of art in the world of today when you are already drowning in information of all sorts. How does one make room in one's life for new experiences when all existing experiences already seem crammed and ready to elbow each other out to the point that one must escape away from all experiences to try and feel any joy that one generally does from experiences.
This is a problem that has been confounding me for years, specially recently when the idea of mortality isn't just an interesting philosophical topic but a real one. As I try to live my life desperately seeking art within the primary occupations of a demanding job, of a working father, of an often absent husband, it often pains me to note that I will be gone too soon while the oceans of art and information, of interesting ideas just kept waiting for me to take a dive in.
As unread books accumulate in my various e-readers, bought but unlistened music piles up on the computer, magazines keep coming and going nowhere (the infamous New Yorker guilt), pithy tweets, 'this will change our life' videos posted on facebook, to say nothing of the onslaught of newspapers, great photography (have you been to 500px lately?), films - wonderful films and in other languages, paintings I've never understood (but want to), tech blogs, pundits, plunderers, travel, travelers and travel writing, economy, the elusive world of Big Data, of tech giants, and all those billion-dollar tech start-ups I was reading about just yesterday and wondering where mine went, and friends (oh, no one really has any real time for those anymore.)
And then once in a while you read, almost by accident, something that puts all of this in perspective and makes you think about everything all over again. No, it doesn't solve anything for you but it makes you shake your head, you understand, you accept, you know, you communicate, you connect. You know you will be the same person the next day, but you know you are not alone. The overbearing loneliness of crowds and of data, for a moment, is brushed away. That's our little Nirvana, 21st century style.
"Some notes on attunement"(By Zadie Smith, The New Yorker, December 17, 2012) is one of the most interesting and moving pieces of writing I've read in a long time. The article's focus is Zadie's initial reluctance and final acceptance of the music of Joni Mitchell. Zadie is reflecting on what this means and what the acceptance and eventual joy from any art means. This is beautiful, thoughtful prose, the likes of which I haven't read in a long time or probably ever. Read it if you are intrigued by the dilemma of modern life and its overabundance - and absence - of art from daily life.
"Sometimes it is when we stop trying to understand or interrogate apparently "absurd" phenomena - like the category of the "new" in art - that we become more open to them." - Zadie Smith.