I read Patrick Süskind’s novel, Perfume, shortly after he wrote it in 1985. It was a strange, rootless time for me: I wasn’t welcome at home and I didn’t have another place I could call my home after leaving school. I found myself in different places, looking for some kind of consistency, something that at least reminded me who I was when I woke up the next day. Perhaps it was something to do with Süskind’s novel. I shall never know. I began to look for perfumes that helped me feel myself. Continue reading “Perfume”
We all copy in order to be original. I don’t come into the world with a capacity to conclude: ‘I think therefore I am’. Long before that becomes possible some hopefully intelligent, loving people teach me, a child, I’m an ‘I’ who can think, and who is.
So forget tedious debates over what’s hotly new and what’s not, and think about how you used to play. Melanie Klein thought children played out games that illustrated their lives; Freud recognised that as adults we act out tendencies we aren’t remembering as thoughts (why do I always make the same mistakes, etc), until we start thinking about them.
Originality is something that occurs out of an awareness of what I’m doing and a faith in something I can’t see on my own: my signature in the world. A thought that someone’s listening; an urge to leave trace of me that you’ll gather if you meet me, that indefatigably Tom-ish thing about Tom Tomaszewski, which I can never know as well as you will. Of course there’s the me you’ll never be able to know, too – and the you I can never know. That’s a lot of unknown.
If I think about writing like this there are some writers whose force I can pick up off the page as keenly as if they are breathing in my face. They feel original to me. Ones who leave me cold, don’t. Perhaps they are the ones who only imagine the sound of their own voices.
- Everything begins with repetition; so relax and look at something by somebody else. You’ll be strikingly original in no time at all (well, maybe).
- Postmodernism is always crashing the same car. I hesitate to invest in that word, it’s so uninspiring. People who believe in it (who may also believe in unicorns) have trouble with originality. Lyotard, however, was an extraordinarily original thinker. What a voice.
- Just do something.
- If you’re making something and you want it to be original try making it for someone in particular; someone you know really well.
I can offer a few thoughts that might help, but it depends how you’re listening. What’s love? It isn’t so much that nobody knows; more a matter of everybody knowing without realising they do.
A lot of people asking questions about love are looking to confirm something they already believe, or feel strongly about, without realising it. Tell them something about love they disagree with and they’ll dismiss you out of hand, or shoot whatever you’re saying down before it barely gets off the ground. Love is a hell of a feeling. Continue reading “What is Love?”
When I see someone coming towards me I get a sense of who it is, if I know her or him, long before I see a face. There’s something about people, their signature in the world, which I try to help people cultivate.
I did something with a group of people last week, an exercise I’ve tried before and which always seems to help if there’s something troubling the sense of who you are. Continue reading “Punctuate Yourself”
I’m not sure about fashion but I do like clothes. I like the clothes actors wear in French films: Michel Piccoli in Le Mepris or Jean Paul Belmondo in Pierrot Le Fou. Jean-Luc Godard’s actors. It’s something about how he likes to see things, and it must be something about how he likes to see himself. I can barely watch a scene from those films without feeling myself on the edge of something extraordinary. Bridgette Bardot; Anna Karina. The island in Le Mepris. The garden around Jack Palance’s house. The studio where Paul, Camille and Jeremy watch Fritz Lang’s Odyssey. The room with Sam Fuller in Pierrot Le Fou. All of the sea and the sky around Marianne and Ferdinand. Continue reading “Clothes”