Friday, December 4, 2009

Art Is A Hammer

So I was thinking about this random quote: "Art is not a mirror. Art is a hammer." And I was thinking about art. And Ivan E. Coyote. At the same time. Cause I'm good like that. I discovered Ivan via Sugarbutch, and zie- this is a good person for nonspecific pronouns- is just brilliant. Amazing. I think every femme has her list of butch heartbreakers, and mine generally involves intellectuals. I mean, I can't discount k.d. lang or Dylan Rion, but my heart (and uh, any other regions) throbs for brainy butches: Rachel Maddow, Alison Bechdel and of course, studly genius Sinclair Sexsmith. So there's this video of this edible and nutritious butch, reading a short story with quite the Canadian accent (is there a word for that?). I have never heard that much Yukon in one person's voice before. And zie's reading about the methods and difficulties of packing, and I nearly swooned right there in front of my monitor-not to mention in front of my fiancee. I was entranced.

And this was before I was even really aware of hir words. And I had to start the video over, and actually listen to it (did you know blushing makes it hard to concentrate? I didn't). And hir writing is... warm. It's funny, and accessible, and sometimes a little wistful, and I savored it. I went to the library and read The Slow Fix, which was all the library had, and when I was done I wanted more.
Zie's writing about Canada, and often about solitude; I should be cold, shivery and lonely (I'm a rather empathic reader) when I'm done, but I'm not. I'm warm and as I read I'm smiling . It's like hearing stories about my family, and since many of hir stories describe being gay in a not-very-post-homophobic world, in a way it is.
Zie describes hirself as a "kitchen-table storyteller", and that's exactly what it is. And I love it.

I enjoy being taken by surprise by art. I was taking a class in Florence and one day, we went to an art gallery. "Cezanne in Firenze"; Impressionist art. Heretofore I'd always thought of Impressionism as 'pretty'. Monet, Van Gogh. Starry Night, Water Lilies, all that jazz. And then at some point while I was wandering around absorbing these paintings... I changed my mind.
The color, the strokes of the brush, the way you can tell how the artist was feeling about the subject or the day or the paints just from the damn painting! -it just blew my fucking mind. I stayed for two hours, I spent my lunch and dinner money on a book of the exhibition's art, I couldn't stop talking on the way home. I was wired, like I'd had an adrenaline orgasm and a pot of espresso. I was on fire, it was a revelation. I was thunderstruck by Impressionist art.
I know there're some people that don't feel the same fiery passion for their spouses that I can feel about art, or sex, or teaspooning against injustice, or sometimes even discussions of philosophy. (Yes, I'm serious.) And I am sorry for those people.

And I guess the point of all this is that Ivan E. Coyote's work didn't hit me like a hammer. And I was okay with that. As I read, it opened itself like a window, it wrapped around me like a blanket, it felt good under my hands like a leash or a steering wheel, like it wasn't going to take me anywhere I didn't want to go.
Something I know is that people revere classics, but they read stories. I feel as though I have found a friend in this author, and when the world is sad and scary I'd rather have a blanket than a hammer.