The House of Tatterdemalion


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Is There Anything?

December 30th, 2006 by tatterdemalion

How did I get on to this thought? Here’s the web-trail for those interested. I started out at the rather famous “English Cut” blog, clicked from there to another tailor’s website (unfortunately mostly dead–the website not the tailor), and from there to Julian Roberts nearly unnavigable website. I had seen Julian’s and Sophie’s on-line cutting tutorial, but this was the first time I realized there was more to the site than what I had seen earlier. As with last time, I was impressed with his technical ability (especially his ability to approach things from different angles), but not with his artistic sense. Seeing more of his work and his writing stirred up some thoughts in me. They may seem rather unrelated to you, but if you’ve poked around his site, you can probably get an idea how they are all intertwined.

People who are in “creative” fields often insist that there are new things left to be created. People who buy “creative” things are apt to say “There is nothing new under the sun.” The curious thing is that this saying doesn’t upset the consumers–who will gladly go ahead and buy whatever it is, even if they already have 16 just like them at home (in fact, some people seem to be even happier if they can bump their collection up to 17 by buying whatever it is). It’s the artists that get all upset by this thought. They tell you the cyclic nature of things can be thrown off. They tell you that you just need to think out side the box, need to work without boundaries and rules and all that constrains—and if you do, there really and truly are new things left to be created! They can be so earnest on this point, so desperate.

They have to be. If you really believe you are capable of creating something new, you must believe you will continue to do so. To say there is nothing new man can create can fill people with fear, because if there is nothing left to be created, then there is nothing left. What we have is what we get. And if what we got just isn’t enough to make us happy, then it is a terrifying thought that we can create nothing truly new.

The same can be said of rules. The only time you have to be afraid of rules is if you don’t like what the rules are telling you. Someone who would like to be able to fly would very like much to believe that the laws of gravity don’t exist–because that law is counter to what they wish to accomplish. When you see the same rules or boundaries being repeated, it points to a lack of new creation. In an effort to overcome this shortfall, they claim to work outside of all boundaries–and in doing so, join the many others that are, and have, and will claim to be working outside of all boundaries.

The curious thing is that they believe they are buying freedom by throwing off rules, and to my eye, they are merely gaining new masters. The work of thought–of consciously guiding your hands, of taking what you have, things that have poured into you through all your senses and ability to perceive, and re-arranging it like a kaleidoscope–they can seem themes repeating themselves. They can see there are limits. And so they throw off the mind, so as to be free. They try to work instead from emotion–to let the adrenaline of the moment carry them through, to work an idea as soon as it is conceived, before it has any time to grow or mature. This, they say, is freedom. This raw emotion, this roughly hewn mass (or mess, if you prefer), this is new.

If it is new, why does it all look so old and tired to me? And why must it be new? Would it really be superior if it truly was a change, was something new? They like to mock people who are afraid of change, and they have a point. But to say that all change is good is as much a lie as saying all change is bad. Even if this was something new, it cannot use that alone as a claim to greatness.

With out rules or boundaries, things are shapeless and without from. It is only by shaping them and containing them that they gain meaning. A 6 month old child can bang on a keyboard and produce all manner of letters and combinations on the monitor–but where is their meaning or worth? The artist can throw away all guiding thought, and be reduced to producing the emotional temper-tantrum of a two year old—with more technical ability, but with no more meaning or purpose. Ah, the sweetness of freedom; now we are free to scream mindlessly and flail our limbs! So much greater it is than movement or voice guided by purpose or thought! This is the very essence of man!

Well, I don’t know how much I can argue with that last statement, but I think it is a very sad statement, not a grand statement of accomplishment. They cling to newness, to change, to rebellion–at the cost of all else. They must: what they have is not enough, and if they deny they can ever attain to anything better, they loose all pretense of hope. And without hope, who can live?

Posted in Contemplations, Design | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. julian roberts Says:

    very interesting read.

    i’ve printed it out to read & will contemplate responding!:)

    hope you’re cool,,,,,,,
    best wishes & regards

    julian roberts

  2. Tatterdemalion Says:

    Hi Julian,

    Somehow I missed your comment until today! Sorry about that.

    If you do pop back in here again, I’d like to thank you for putting up your “Juilan and Sophie’s School of Cutting”, which I found very informative, and also for your encouragment on your site. It seems like so many people encourage what is “safe” or “achievable”. I really appreciated the way you painted an honest picture of hard work and sometimes self-doubt, but still encouraged people not to give up on what they really want to do because of it.

    Your website stirred up a lot of thoughts for me, so I’m very happy if I was able to return the favor!

    You are always welcome here. . .


    (P.S. I’m not only cool, I’m frigid! It’s 15 F right now (warmed up from below 0 F this morning), and some brutal windchill. I’m ready for spring!)

  3. Sometime you feel like writing, and sometimes you don’t » The House of Tatterdemalion » Blog Archive Says:

    […] I was going to try to tie the whole thing together, but I’m a little bit leary of repeating myself. But I have personal pet peeves against people who make a whole new post just to say “look what at what I wrote earlier”, so I shall attempt to make a little new content out of this, even if it is on themes I have discussed before. […]

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