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Language Log

Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006 - 4:01 p.m.

When I experience any kind of success in things, I often have these conversations in my head as if I am being interviewed by someone. Some patient fan with a tape recorder, getting every last word down. I explain to myself my philosophy of life and art in the self-indulgent manner of a celebrity. It's ridiculous, but I can't stop.

I went through a period when I didn't do this, but I'm back to it now. Often it's how my thinking takes place in the first place, in the form of patient self-exposition.

What have I been thinking today: I don't like 'cute'. It will get me into trouble someday. I don't like scrapbooks of other people's children. I don't think developmental phonological errors are endearing, I just think, "oh, yeah, there he goes again substituting coronals for dorsals. Good to see he respects markedness." One reason I dread having children is because people will give me cute things for the children, and I will have to pretend to like them. These things add up over time. It is stressful.

I am clearly still recovering from spending a week with the in-laws. They are the best in-laws imaginable. But, my aesthetic sensibilities are sorely tried when I visit. That is an understatement.

I think cute is mediocre. Cute is easy. Putting pictures of things there rather than working with abstractions is easy, simple, and vacuous. You put a picture of a snowman there and some clever text, like "let it snow!" (easy, you don't even have to think the words up for yourself!). What could be a better homage to winter, after all? This sort of thing is simple, accessible, easy to understand. And yes, it would sell sell sell because of it. No need to gesture in the general direction of the sublime.

Maybe I am putting on airs to try to make "art"-- to make jewelry that is complex and beautiful and meaningful. Jewelry that is more than adornment. I certainly should not be putting so much effort into it (except, oh yes, I find it a fulfilling activity). A lot of thought goes into it. Too much.

I like the idea of having an artist's question. Like a research question, but different.

This is a bunch of self-indulgent crap I've been writing here. Just so's you know.

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