Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sincere Doodling

One of the most consistent things I have ever done in my life, since childhood to this morning, is doodle. I started the day I came across the amazing power of dragging a stick of lead, ink, or wax against paper or a wall, making something that wasn’t there a moment before. And I’ve never had enough of this power. I do it during meetings and telephone conversations, while waiting for a waiter to bring my order, or while thinking about anything. I’m able to talk and doodle simultaneously, though there’s an unending debate about that in my household. While each random drawing is unique, invariably somewhere in my high art, I leave arrows and small interlocking arcs, and sometimes stars. I wonder what this says about me, and I wonder what the fear of knowing what this says about me says about me.

The designs left by my doodling during the past few years are not half bad. In fact, they kind of look good, almost artsy. I like the fact that initially I do not consciously direct my pen or pencil and that my fingers just go their own way completely disconnected from the main ship, which is busy tending to other things. But when I come out of my muse and look down—that’s when the problems begin. Central command intervenes, and then I try to “improve” on the design, consciously attempting to bring purpose to what was originally random, like the ridiculous vulgarity of bringing symmetry to what clearly was not supposed to be symmetrical. If I had drawn an arrow one way between a covey of little arcs—perfectly imperfect—then I would force another arrow in the opposite direction to complete the mirror image. The shaft of the new arrow, of course, would be drawn with a straight edge, like a menu or a stack of Post-Its, and the fletching would be faultlessly feathered. The improvements are disastrous. The design would lose personality. Immediately. Somehow, the hemispheres of my brain would switch (if you believe in right-brain, left-brain asymmetry). A cerebral civil war would break out. And like most civil strife, there was something to learn from it. For me, it had something to do with genuineness and sincerity, “which is what the world needs more of today” (a statement my left brain just imposed while editing this thing). Just about everywhere I turn I see spoiled doodling whether in the theater, cinema, bookstores, prayers, and even relationships. Got to be real.

Slightly relevant, I know a person who says he writes the most inspiring things when he’s at a computer store or office equipment behemoth trying out, while standing, a display computer or typewriter. He tests out the keyboard and, like magic, the prose he leaves is thoroughly inspiring, words unassociated with stuffy forethought, words he just let rip. (He’s the same person, however, who would then delete his words and compose messages intended for the next product tester: “God is Watching!” or “The End is Near” or “Read Koran” or "Free Palestine".)

If people who write letters seriously consider what “Sincerely” means and implies, and if honesty still had value, most letters would not be signed off this way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued... post a doodle for us to see!

10/29/2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger fromclay said...

I'd like to, but are you a shrink?

11/01/2006 8:21 AM  

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