Right now (no literally, at this PRECISE MOMENT) I am reading T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” It’s so good, people. So good. In fact, you should all read it. Here’s a link, because I love you.
There’s one line in particular, however, that I wanted to talk about. I’m so stoked about it that I haven’t even finished reading the essay yet, because I needed to run and share it with you:
“…what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.”
I mean, come on. If you don’t think that’s cool, you can just get off my blog.
Because, when you think about it, it’s really true. We can tend to think of history as being static. Like, it is what it is (was???), and nothing can change it. But then consider the fact that we all view the past through the filter of everything that has happened since. Most likely none of us can view one of DaVincii’s paintings now without having at least an awareness of the art movements that have sprung from it since.
Look at the Donmar’s AMAZING production of Coriolanus, for another example…
For the production design, they took inspiration from many modern sources (including my beloved Banksy), and the play has a different energy as a result. Also, to stretch the point, when the play was written, the idea of a working democracy was no more than a thought experiment. We live in a culture now (especially me, as an American) where democracies, and nations built on the idea of free speech, are a living, functional reality. Or semi-functional, at least. I’m not quite sure whether we could call American politics totally functional at the moment, to be honest. Oh, lawrdy.
But we won’t get into all that.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed that little thought-provoker, and I REALLY hope you go read the rest of the essay right now. That’s what I’m going to do.