Not a Mission Statement Exactly

Why do I write this blog? Why am I always on the verge of abandoning it?

At lunch today with a friend whose taste I trust, especially in matters creative, we discussed egos and their effect. I paraphrased Flannery O’Connor (without crediting her) when I told my friend that I write this blog in order to figure out what I think.

Writing as thinking.

In this way, this website is a selfish enterprise, fueled by my desire to organize my thoughts (and by organizing, birth them in the first place). How often I’ll type a sentence—a meaty sentence, full of both vigor and vim—only to re-read it and think to myself: Yeah, but you don’t really believe that, dummy.

Plus, as I’m typing this there’s a large button to the right named “Publish.” One click and this goes live; one click and it becomes permanent, which means foreverTo a performer like me, the temptation of the “Publish” button is fierce. Click me, Andrew! Look how bright and large I am! Click me! YOUR OPINIONS MUST BE KNOWN!

Thing is: I never paused to worry about my goddamn ego when I was writing in college. In college I would churn out a half-dozen short stories per year, get them published in the Literary Magazine, and I’d never once think, “Gosh, who am I to write something? I’m a nobody, and thus, full of nobody stories.”

And the other thing is, that’s precisely when I should have been battling self-doubt. My stories were pretty terrible. My writing was cutesy and superficial. But I didn’t let that stop me.

These days, when I finally feel in command of the written word, is when my mind decides to occassionally lose faith. Just when I have things that might be worth saying, why bother?

But all of this confessional rambling is for this purpose: Here is a fantastic article about what makes something funny–the scientific study of humor. Read it when you can. Bookmark the page and read it one lazy evening. Because it’s a great reminder that (a) improv and comedy are unknowable, (b) improv is evidence of our elegance as a species, and (c) trying to make sense of the chaos is the art; the organizing of thoughts is the purpose.

Just read the article already, would ya??? Don’t take my word for it.

 

1 Comment

  1. Tyler Lane on May 25, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Hey Andrew! What a coincidence that you & I would have a discussion on just this a few days after you posted this (at that point I hadn’t read this article yet).

    Nobody can fully explain good humor in the same way nobody can explain good art. But that’s because humor *is* an art form, right? But culturally we don’t think so and it’s always the dramatic films that win the Oscars. HuRL’s benign violation theory helps explain funny things in the same way music theory helps explain great music, but both rely on there already being something great to examine in the first place. While an understanding of music theory very well could help me write better music, it is by no means a necessary OR sufficient condition to creating good music; it’s as easy to imagine an 8-year-old with no idea how to read sheet music pumping out the next best piano concertos as much as somebody with an MFA. The benign violation theory is the same way: it can explain why that joke was funny but how much is it going to help me in coming up with the next big funny one?

    I have an insatiable desire to learn and I realize that the concept of “Yes, and…” is something that I get to keep getting better at for the rest of my life. It’s kind of weird that while I pretty much have a handle on algebra and English grammar or whatever, I’m definitely going to die before I fully understand what the heck improv is.

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