I'm close to deciding that I will never watch Nova again. Of course, I'm kidding. But I have noticed that those programs make me feel so inadequate when I consider my own creative life and work life.
The other night, I watched a show about Fractal Geometry. Fascinating stuff. And then, the next night, I was hearing and reading Barbra Nightingale's poems that utilized some of the same ideas. Intriguing how the world works that way.
Part of the Nova program focused on the mathematician Mandelbrot, who did some of the most important work on Fractal Geometry and in doing so, changed his whole profession. I thought about my own professions. However much I might like to completely reshape them, I have a hard time imagining that happening these days.
What would change the Poetry world in the same way that fractals changed the Geometry world? Some might argue that the changes in the publishing market are doing that, but I would argue that the basic form of the poem has stayed the same, even as the delivery mechanism is shifting.
What would change Academia the same way that fractals changed Geometry? Again, I see changes in the delivery system--the widening acceptance of online study--but the content seems to have been the same for almost 100 years. I'm thinking particularly of Composition. Perhaps, if I widen my thought, I could argue that the widening of the Canon has done to Literature what fractals did to Geometry.
Since I was little, growing up listening to stories of Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights workers who had an impact on society and changed it forever, I've longed for similar work. But it's good to remember how hard it is to be that kind of trailblazer. And it's important to remember that these changes require a sea of people to come after the trailblazer, to consider the possible changes, to help birth the new world that the changes will demand.
And with academic disciplines and creative pursuits, it's rare that we just toss out everything that came before. We still study Euclidean Geometry, after all. Even if my poems don't blaze down a different path, we still need poems written, even if those poems won't change the way that people will write poetry forever. Some of my favorite poems are centuries old, after all. My quilts are not trailblazing, but they still serve to give warmth and comfort. Most days, I'm not doing any interesting fusion cooking, but I can whip up yummy, nourishing food in the kitchen.
So today, as we celebrate Father's Day and the Summer Solstice and the end of the term (and whatever else we may all be celebrating), I think I'll write a poem. Or maybe I'll quilt. And as I stitch, I'll let my brain think about the ways I might want to be innovative that I haven't thought of.
Could I quilt my poems? Could I make some sort of creation that involves fabrics, beads, words, paint, and other mediums that interest me? A bookmaking kind of project, but with an outcome that remakes the book?
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