Museum Watching

He doesn’t understand
the squiggles. Or that thing over there
with the random flicker.
His eye numbs the majesty
of curling starlights.
But there is an obligation
he designed himself, to be one
of the nodding fellows. To smirk
and converse until all art is done.

Written for #vss365.

Theater Tableau

Let’s watch the face
reel a performance,
each hand a shadow,
each word a myth warm
underneath stage lights.
The seats are silent.

An aging thespian,
but tonight is his
debut, again. Oh,
the fire he had lent
to the air that night.
Theater’s empty

Except for the man
on a stage that is
his. Doesn’t need us
for a monologue,
but the lights remain,
watching the air fall.

Written for Saturday Mix.

12-Minute Tales – The Ballad of Johnny Explosion

A long time ago, in the mystic city known by mortals as Bakersfield lived 11 year-old Johnny Explosion. However, he was not your ordinary high school for he had a scooter, and this was not like your ordinary scooter. That’s right, I know you once had a scooter and you were barely able to ride it. You thought you were going to do cool tricks and impress all the guys and gals, but guess what? You couldn’t and you remained an anonymous loser and now work at Denny’s because you’re not Johnny Explosion, you pit of shiece.

So anyway, one day, Johnny Explosion was challenged to a scooter race by Terry McTears, who was a no-good. But Johnny couldn’t decline, for he was the best and he had to assert his dominance on a constant basis.

After school, all the kids gathered in an abandoned construction yard because the economy wasn’t looking so tight, yo, and they proceeded to race. But while Terry had skills, Johnny had mad skills and, thus, was the winner by default.

But little did Johnny realize there were some adults who were watching from a distance. Two g-men.

“Hm. That kid isn’t bad with a scooter.”

“Yes, but can he stop a terrorist warhead from destroying half the continent?”

They weren’t so sure, but, at this point, they had nothing left to lose. “Hey kid, how would you like to no do homework ever again?” Johnny said that he would like that and was, therefore, enlisted in a secret anti-terrorist counter secret agent group of extreme athletes. Johnny died almost immediately.

The day of Johnny’s burial was a sad one. The sky cried rain and the graveyard was muddy. But that didn’t stop a certain someone from showing up after everyone left. Terry McTears rolled up to Johnny’s headstone on his scooter and placed his hand on it, and sighed. “Oh, Johnny…but you can’t beat this now!” He then proceeded to do a sick 180 on his grave and rode away.

“Hello Terry, how was your day?” His mother asked that evening.

“It was aight. I got to show my dead nemesis who was boss.”

“That’s nice dear. Now, help me get your father out of prison.”

Terry nodded his head and hit the books. A couple of weeks later he passed the bar, making him the youngest lawyer in the history of these United States.

On the first day of court he rolled in on his scooter and did a pretty gnarly grind on the jury box. Once he stuck the landing he said, “and that’s why my father didn’t murder those people. It was suicide. Thank you.”

The courtroom exploded into applause but then the prosecution spoke. “Wait, I object, the defense is arguing that all of those people found in Mr. McTears’ basement decapitated themselves and I just don’t think that’s an accurate sum–”

But before he could finish the doors to the courthouse opened and everyone gasped. Johnny Explosion. Turns out he faked his death to get out of doing homework.

“Just kidding, I was in Hell.”

The End.

Human Creativity and the Stone Age of Art

Another week, another set of questions where I can showcase my expertise. This week, Fandango has decided to ask some pretty provocative questions about one of my favorite topics:

Are there limits to human creativity? Is it be possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed? Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?

Something can’t come out of nothing, and this is true even for creative endeavors. Art that is seemingly original is always inspired by something else. Nothing is made within a vacuum. However, what’s interesting about these questions is that they almost imply that this is a negative.

“Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?” Yes, human creativity is just that, the building and reconfiguration of other things, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor a good thing. It’s just a fact. However, expansions and rearrangements of older ideas can lead to some truly great and, well, creative results.

Sometimes, creative ideas are only slightly more different or better than its precursors. However, a person may have a “leap” where they think or create something that takes previous ideas and launches them into space:

  • The film 2001: A Space Odyssey obviously takes ideas from previous science fiction films, but it still represents a creative leap forward for cinema and science fiction as a whole.
  • Citizen Kane: On the surface, not that original, yet it was still a highly innovative work of art with its nonlinear narrative and the use of focus, shadows, and character placement to convey a large amount of information.
  • Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow: Again, on the surface, the story doesn’t seem all that original, but it’s told in a completely unique way that represents a leap: its lack of close-ups emphasizes how insignificant the characters are in comparison to the world moving around them. Not only is this novel in comparison to other films, but it actually makes the movie more effective and moving as we understand, on a deeper level, the struggle and plight of its characters.

However, such works are scarce. Most works of art, whether it’s music or film or literature, are not really creative. Sure, they may take previous ideas and change them slightly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is any sort of “leap” or, at the very least, a re-invigoration. This is because most humans are not creative.

But, I’m optimistic. While human creativity, overall, might be limited, I think we’re still in the stone age of art. While there are some truly great and creative works out there, 99% of art just isn’t very good. This shows that we still have a long way to go before truly understanding what art is capable of and how we can comprehend and expand its potential. But, this is going to involve people looking backward and understanding what works, what doesn’t, and going from there.

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash