I had a strange phone-encounter today.
Last time I was on craigslist (sober) I replied to a woman who was looking for "artsy smart chicks" I figured that I fit the bill, so I replied. We had a pleasant e-mail exchange. She said she was looking for cool chicks to hang with. She sent me links to her art. I sent her a submarine. I didn't hear from her for a long time. I forgot about it.
She called today. She introduced herself. She assumed that I wouldn't remember who she was. I remembered who she was. She wanted to thank me for the sub. I asked her what she thought. She used adjectives like "dark" and "brooding." She seemed to want more sub, so I told her about the subscription. She called me a capitalist. (then she apologized, but it was too late). We talked about "art." She told me about her artsy parents who squished her creativity. She groused about "art groups" where artists get together and complain about the Man and Stuff. I asked her why she wasted her time with such groups. She complained about the lame art that the hacks who go to those groups produce. She kvetched about poor artist snobs. She told me about her science career that gave her a nervous breakdown. She told me about her lover/biz partner who she was tired of. I asked her why she was with him. She said she liked fighting with him.
I am tempted to share the cultural identity/ethnicitiy of this individual. My story might make more sense. But if I mention it, then you might think I am obsessed with race. I don't think I am. I am still trying to embrace being white (in a healthy way, of course). Maybe I do have an issue (hey don't look at my like that! haven't you ever seen a white person before?!). Maybe I digress too much.
She used a lot of terms that I wasn't sure we had common definitions for. For example, she said she hated "romance." CS Lewis gives 14 different definitions for that term in the post script of Pilgrim's Regress. After a little probing, I realized she didn't know what she meant. She said that she was afraid of being a hack and making bad art. I asked her what she meant by bad art. She complained about the bad art the goddess worshippers produced. She seemed to imply that it was a new trend. Hardly, it been around for millenia. We kept disagreeing about what was "new" versus "old." In my world art is art, some efforts I ignore and others I worship. I don't worry about whether or not I am a hack, but how much of my skill and soul I am putting into it. I tried to tell her that she was worried about a moot point. The conversation was like a labyrinth that kept turning up dead ends. I could tell she was getting frustrated. She had a lot of interesting, half baked ideas and I was trying to wiggle them out of her. I wanted her to say them in a coherent fashion. I wanted her to give me something to think about. I wanted her to push against me.
I think I might have been an ass to that poor woman.
She kept telling me that she had just called to thank me for the comic and to see if I wanted to be on her e-mail list. In retrospect, maybe she didn't call me to find out what she thought (or rather, didn't think). I should have been a better listener. I purposefully prolonged the conversation. I was feeling that same tenaciousness that compells me to sit through a bad movie till the bitter end to see if there was anything redeeming about it. Yet still, there was something in her, on the edge of understanding, that is waiting to be born. Perhaps I am not her intellectual midwife.
I failed. [sigh]
I am going to read some more Eco.