11 October 2010

The Art of Exploration

Last Thursday, Matt took me out for a night of hearing David Sedaris read from his new book, Squirrel seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. The novel is filled with stories from the perspective of animals, but with hilarious and dangerously close comparisons to the triumphs and failures of humans. 

It was strange, sitting in the theater, surrounded by a demographic of people that we knew would be ready to shread us if they knew we weren't necessarily fans of David Sedaris' lifestyle. 

So why were we there? As a writing major, I had a great level of respect for Sedaris' writing style while I was in school and my husband and I love how he writes about his shortcomings and struggles in a profound and humane way. Do we agree with his decisions and thoughts on life? No, but we love how he expresses himself in a way that isn't insulting to what we believe. We love that he sees his own flaws. We love that he writes freely and respectfully. We love that we can love him, even if we don't see eye to eye.

This is sort of an obsession of mine, if you will: attaching myself to an artist's work that, quite frankly, denies all that I stand for. My husband laughed when he read that last line, but it's true. In a way, their art  forces them to explore and wonder if they're right in what they believe as well. I like following the evolution of their work, seeing them come upon a crossroad, ponder, and go back the way they came, only to approach it again and take a different path. 


I love the brokenness and humanity displayed in music, literature, even reality television. It reminds me that men and women, regardless of profession or choice of expression, are like mosaics of broken hearts and good intentions -- we're always wanting to do what's right, but never knowing how to do it -- and some of us, so broken and split, hide as much as possible from the good. I guess the big question is: are we ever supposed to know how to do good, be good, live good? Can we really do it on our own?


So, long story short, thank you, David Sedaris, for providing an entertaining evening for me and my husband. Thank you for sparking conversation between us, inspiring thought and cultivating compassion. Oh yeah, and thanks for being funny too.

1 comment:

  1. Christina,

    It's been awhile since I read Home Says Hello. So, I dropped by and saw this post about Sedaris' reading. I read a bit of his "Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk," but I wasn't too captivated by it. Perhaps because it wasn't about him and his adventures, but more of a Sedaris' Fables kind of thing.

    Anyway, I wanted to share with you this quote that I think sums up the same sort of realization our brokeness that you are saying you see reflected in art, that I find in competent writing:

    "...she needed me. And I needed her. That was my idea of love: two people who fix one another. It hadn't occured to me then--this would take some years--that the best we can hope for in love is the graceful management of one another's disappointments."
    -from "Ecstasy" a short story by Steve Almond

    Just wow! Right?

    Best,
    -Chris

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