Here’s what happens almost every time I post a comic: after going through the week with every intention of writing a real essay here – something about the days I’ve been having, my way of moving through the world in Tucson, my latest work with my horse, Lady, politics, or whatever else – I realize that I still need to do some editing on the image itself, and by the time I’m done I’m half cross-eyed, and can no longer muster the effort to say anything of substance. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself – god knows, writing is an endeavor that lends itself to diligent self-criticism. (I am, indeed, not acquainted with any writer who doesn’t spend at least as much time on self-recrimination as they do on actual writing.) But it’s frustrating, how the cycle repeats.
The obvious answer would be to write these little essays early, like I draw the comics early, and have them more or less ready to go. But I haven’t done that yet, and I don’t see it happening anytime soon, so instead today I’m drawing on that familiar well of self-reflection/hatred to try and draw the readers of this comic closer to how I’m feeling. (Hi, mom and dad. I’m fine, I promise.)
Last night I had drinks with a new-ish Tucson writer friend (Hi Lisa!) and we spent a fair amount of time talking about how, in a world that lately seems designed to make us feel guilty whenever we’re not political powerhouses, art is still one of the most moving and vital parts of our own lives, and not a lightweight endeavor. It’s easy to feel that it’s dilettante-ish – drawing these weird cartoons, writing these weird stories – compared to the practical work of pushing forward policy or volunteering with refugees. But what we reminded one another is that art, too, has the potential to change the world – to change your life, just in the way it twists your heart in the moment you experience it. I brought up the idea that poetry has existed nearly as long as humanity has; that we don’t remember the politics of the people in Lascaux many thousands of years ago, but we still experience and can be moved by the paintings they made in the caves there.
A few days ago, Dave and I watched the most recent episode of Twin Peaks, which uses a deep-dive into the splicing of an atom (& resultant atomic explosion, this particular one a test in New Mexico) to suggest an explanation for the show’s greatest villain, a wicked entity named Bob. Human spirit, the scene suggested, has the potential to unleash forces that it doesn’t and can’t understand; human endeavor has the potential to reverberate in directions it didn’t intend to go. We live our daily lives and ignore the desperate, dark effects of our actions, and that ignorance and mundanity is as frightening as the monsters we call forth.
Dave found the episode a little frustrating and maybe boring (he can say for himself, if he wants). But I thought it was thrilling. Just the images were alive with drama. So much momentum, so much fire.
Anyway, I’m not really going anywhere with this. But I wanted to spill out some of my thinking for once, instead of just crawling back into my own exhaustion. So here they are: some of my ideas and feelings, some of the way I’m working through the world.