Monday, March 8, 2010

Originality and Origins

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary."--Sir Cecil Beaton

This is a quote I certainly can relate to and a sentiment and way of life I have believed in for many years.

Lately, I found myself thinking again about originality. Those contemplations soon led me back to memories of my 17th year, when I resolutely presented myself as a non-conformist to my high school classmates. I wore black, refused to salute the flag and espoused bohemian sentiments like those expressed above by Sir Cecil Beaton. I must have been quite convincing, because many of my peers believed I would be honored as the class valedictorian. They were very surprised when my scholastic average placed me modestly right in the midst of everyone.

My classmates connected my originality with studiousness. But my non-conformist posture had nothing to do with hitting the books, even though I loved reading and learned more from my own studies than from the ordained curriculum, such as it was. Which was often quite irrelevant and uninteresting. With non-conformity, I was taking a stance in favor of independent thinking/learning and the value of the life of the imagination. In that way, I have not changed much.

I think about originality, the pursuit of which is something so peculiar to Western culture. "Insist upon yourself. Be original," Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote. People are naturally original, left to their own devices. But are we left to our own devices? I mean the devices of imagination, leisure, creative expression, contemplation, in fulfillment of what is original in us.

"Originality consists in returning to the origin," the architect Antonio Gaudi once said. After all these years, I begin to experience that more fully. As Gaudi explained, originality is returning through one's resources to the simplicity of earlier solutions.

Earlier solutions, the glints of which were there all along from the very beginning. Perhaps much earlier, out in the timeless, free of the constrictions of logic and history and education.

At this age, I am free to be the woman I have become. I no longer struggle to be original or repress my originality. I am just being myself, natural and easy. No big deal really.

Given all that, there is still plenty of reason to refine and learn. Which brings me back to You Tube-- my new artistic medium. Now I would like to get really sophisticated and creative with You Tube-- and I certainly am in my imagination. Yet my limited ability with the darling little Flip Cam and editing protocols make my brief productions extremely naif--translate primitive.

In Artist Conference Network, a coaching community I belong to, this would be noted as a "story." And it is a story. Fact is, I love doing the funny homemade Flip Cam clips, and if I keep at it, I will learn more. Or I could magnetize a marvelous human being who loves what I am doing, has video skills and wants to do the darling Flip Cam clips him/herself. I am putting that on my list of things to womanifest.

Today I did a short interview with Laura Rich, the composer with whom I've been collaborating for months. It is #3 in the Sage's Play/A New Wrinkle series. I feel glad because I completed my three-month goal for Artist Conference Network to post 3 video clips on You Tube! The latest clip doesn't seem to be posted yet, but it will be soon. (I can't attach a link in other words, but you can show your curiosity by searching for it! Or not, depending on your inclination of course.)

What are you up to these days? What is inspiring and challenging you?


  1. Hi Gaea - interesting about youthful non-conformity - just a step toward originality in the later years perhaps? I also refused to salute the flag in 6th grade, and at the same time became a feminist because I realized that society wasn't going to let me be a cowboy, like I wanted to be. I also refused to be confirmed at church at that age.

  2. Gal, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a cowboy or an Indian.