Rendered Fat Content


John William North: The Wood Gatherers (1869)

[Herbert Alexander, the artist’s biographer, described the artist’s interpretation of nature as similar to that of a poet, suggesting rather than describing: "In watercolor and oil an effect of intricate detail is found on examination to be quite illusive—multitudinous form is conjured by finding and losing it in endless hide-and-seek till the eye accepts infinity." from The Cleveland Museum's
description of this work.]

" … as if my life might really have a purpose."

My songs seem to experience the most remarkable life cycle, for I've lost each after completing them, then found and resurrected some after they've spent some period essentially wandering in wilderness. Many still remain there. Had I not resurrected them, they would have most certainly been lost to the ages, as if they'd never existed, and they might well yet be lost, for this cycle most likely continues well into the future. My legacy, such as it might be, will probably be more determined by chance than by deliberate intent. I'm uncertain, anyway, what form a legacy might take and how I might set about to form one, if I was disposed to even attempt such a feat. My tunes have faded out then back into fashion. This might just be their nature, and mine.

Through the first part of this series, I noticed myself chewing on myself for losing the songs.
I had been a poor steward of my creations. I could not even find lyric sheets for several of the tunes. A few sheets were apparently entrusted to a since obsoleted application. Word Perfect® turned out to not be any archivist's dream. FrameMaker, neither. The odd slips of paper originally holding the treasure remain unsorted, with multiple copies of only the songs I least wanted to remember and none of the few I felt really qualified to be considered eternal. An essentially oral history apparently prevails in my world, where I pass down my work not to subsequent generations, but to iterations of myself, with me rising like a whale to gasp a huge breath before immersing myself in forgetfulness again.

Had I not lost this SetList, I would not have needed to find its contents again. It might have been necessary to lose the songs in order to properly pass them along. The re-creation might be just as necessary as respiration, breathing out just as essential as breathing back in, neither independent of the other. I started to begrudge this effort, as if I'd caused it to be necessary by my careless handling of my legacy, but I'm beginning to see just how necessary both the forgetting and the remembering might have always been. These are not make work extensions, but the very soul of creation. I might properly consider the recovery work just as eternal as was the originally attempted art. If it cannot muster re-creation, it's found its eternal destination. Only that which can survive Founding again continues to exist. The rest become footnotes or dust.

I might deal exclusively in dust, for I retain no archivist following me around with a broom and dustpan, attempting to preserve anything I attempt. I deal exclusively in the ephemeral under the hubris of the eternal. None of my work seems very well suited to last through the end of the week, let alone much longer. I deal in dust, not statues. Each of my songs required my sharp focus to be put into form. They were, for that period, almost my sole focus, my purpose, much more than merely my work. Each then became my pride and joy. Through their early days, they were almost all I could think about. I came back to each again and again, almost as an obsession. I always found their emergence enormously reassuring, as if my life might really have a purpose. Then, as I recounted in
MyWives, I moved on to other lives, only sometimes to remember what I'd forgotten, the forgetting apparently an under-appreciated component of creating.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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