In my wanderings, I encounter many smart people–-or people who believe they are smart and like to share their smartness with everyone else.
Sometimes, I have encountered a person who was smart and wanted me to understand that he/she was very smart and most definitely not stupid. The most horrific fate imaginable for such a person was not the state of being stupid, but the perception of being stupid. When I encountered such a person, I tended to punctuate my side of the conversation with long pauses and deep penetrating stares. This drove that person completely nuts because it slowed down the tempo of the conversation.
Why do some people have to bang us over the head with their smartness? True, there is a dumbing down in mass culture, and those of us cursed with a brain cling to our intellectual surfboards while waves of dingbats break all around us. What is one to do? How does one find the calm flow between smartness and dumbness?
And what of the artist? What of him/her? Is the artist the calm flow? Is the artist the explorer, the experimenter, the one willing to stumble around dumbly in the dark, to dive into the unknown, the untried, the unproven? How does the artist deal with the smart people who know everything about everything? Yet, the artist thrives in the unknown, on not knowing the who, what, where, when, when, yet knowing that there is something out there.
Richard Serra, the sculptor, recently spoke to Charlie Rose about the effort as the most important thing in art. It is the effort, not the result, which drives the artist. It is in his/her doing, that the artist communicates. Thus, the result is secondary.
However, action without intelligence or with faulty intelligence can lead to disaster. So how does one find the balance between the mind and angelic action? Maybe, it is that moment–-that tiny moment between conceiving and acting that the artist is really working. That striving to completely create something from a vision is where the artist truly lives.
And maybe that's why when smart people talk about my work, I just agree–-not because I really agree as to how it all went down, but because what they say sounds really smart. And they seem really happy in their smartness, and who am I to deny them their happiness?