"It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see."
– Henry David Thoreau
For those who do not feel the need to make sense of the world, it serves them well. For others, the poets, the writers, the artists, they tell their stories in an attempt to make some sense of the world they live in, if only for themselves. This, in small part, explains how art is born.
Find a quiet dark spot and listen to Beethoven’s 14th, the Moonlight Sonata, Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit, or check out Picasso’s Guernica next time you’re at the Museo Reina Sofia, or pick up a copy of Camus’ The Stranger, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath or Hans Fallada’s The Drinker to get an idea. They were all composed as the artist was attempting to make sense of the world, or their place in it.
The writer may have come to their craft because they’ve realised that, at heart, they are outsiders, their immediate world is alien to them and they therefore need a method of expressing that alienation. Other endeavours act merely as weigh stations until the realisation hits, too late, that the time has come for them to try and talk themselves out of it.
It’s the work of the writer, the literature, the art, that endures through civilisations, not the business deals, the political grandstanding, the overt diatribes of the permanently outraged, or the latest renovation. Although everyone has a story to tell, not everyone has the facility, sometimes it’s given to others, knowing that the stories must be told, because we need them, subconsciously we know we need them, to sustain us.
What is certain is that while some are busy making the most of the world, there are others trying to make sense of it. What is also certain is that the talent being applied to this effort can overcome almost anything, even encouragement.