Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the enormous room: falling back in love with a writer

"By a - what do you call yourself? painter? poet? playwright? satirist? essayist? novelist?
But not a successful artist, in the popular sense?
Don't be silly.
Yet you probably consider your art of vital consequence -
-To the world?
To myself....
But I dare say you don't dare say precisely why you consider your art of vital consequence-
Thanks to I dare say my art I am able to become myself.
Well well! Doesn't that sound as if people who weren't artists couldn't become themselves?
Does it?"
-e. e. cummings' introduction to his novel, The Enormous Room
You know how sometimes a certain writer touches you at a particular time in your life, and as the years go by you wonder if the love was somewhat superficial? If maybe it was just because you were so young, or hadn't read anything like it before, or were looking for something to separate you from everyone else.
I had started to wonder these things about my love for e. e. cummings. I didn't think about it too much. Cummings touched me very deeply my junior year of high school and I carried that with me all through college, taking long walks in the Cambridge neighborhood where he used to live. At some point, I stopped feeling so emotionally connected to his writing. 
I spent all of last week at home, and came across this very old copy of The Enormous Room in my bedroom. I had finished the novel I brought home with me for the week, and so I began to read this newly-found book by my old favorite writer.
It didn't take me long at all to fall back in love with him. In his introduction, a faux-interview with himself used to address what were probably real comments from critics, he gave the above passage which really hit home with me in terms of why I create art. And in terms of who I consider to be artists. I think (and I think this is what Cummings meant, behind a word with such a strong definition) that an "artist" is anyone who is strongly passionate about something, passionate in general. Simply, a person with a large capacity to love something or anything or everything. That if "becoming yourself" is hinged on anything, it's knowing how to be open with yourself and building from there.
I felt relieved to discover that my love for Cummings was always here, lying dormant; kind of like it's a true part of myself, and not in vain. Besides, it's always sad to fall out of love with something. How nice to know that you never really did.


Andi B. Goode said...

That's a great introduction! I have a copy of this but haven't got around to reading it, yet.
-Andi x

Amanda Laurel Atkins said...

you'll love it! :)