An Almost Incomplete Inquiry Over Oeuvres

A single picture of a tree is just that—a picture. A thousand pictures of trees, on different days, in different seasons is a collection. It says more than what one picture ever will. It takes a life of its own. When does this begin to happen? At two pictures? At ten? Who knows? But it does happen. That is what a body of work means. It is also why I write my words day after day. A piece on its own says something, sometimes, but all of them together, they say more than any one of them ever can. What do they say? I am not the judge of that. It will be up to scrutiny later, much later. Perhaps, never, too. Who knows? Who knows how things turn out? But they do say something. That, I am sure of, and that is all my intention: for these inquiries to coalesce into a whole, I could never have created at once. I have fooled myself into writing more than I ever set out to do and hidden in there somewhere, under the folds of sentences filled with things said casually, I may have said something worth saying. At least, I hope so.

But why can’t I say it for sure? Because I cannot say anything for certain. All things I have been sure of have shown me how wrong I have been. In any case, you do not know what happens to your art, and I hope no one is alive to learn what people think they have to say about anything in the world. All great painters end up being printed on a mug, and all great writers are quoted on a T-shirt. That is all there is to it. The artist’s fate is either fading into obscurity or dilution; there is no in-between. They all end this way, even the good ones, especially the good ones. How can we be sure, then? We can’t. Why make art, then? Why not? Fire was a gift to humanity given by chance, and it still is a gift. Its use is a different question—to wage war, to raze forests, to inspire and instigate, to keep warm, or to manhandle and neglect. When the universe does not interfere, I wonder what authority does the artist have?

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