When I was at Mepkin Abbey, talk turned as it often does to the practice of writing. One of my friends mentioned Adams and her blog. We talked about how Adams had gone from blogging to only having the energy to tweet. We talked about the viciousness of cancer, which seems to afflict so many people these days.
After reading Adams' blog, I felt sad at the thought of that voice, that content, reduced to 140 characters. The blog is a treasure. Hopefully we'll have it with us for a long time yet.
At Mepkin Abbey, my friends and I talked about how much information is too much information. In a follow up e-mail, my friend talked about the videos made by breast cancer patients who had talked candidly about the surgeries and their aftermaths. She talked about how useful they were as she decided how to treat her own breast cancer.
I think of my own discovery of Our Bodies, Ourselves, the first edition, in my college library. I was awed by the honest talk. I valued it more than I can say and in such a variety of ways: as a resource, as encouragement, as a record of the variety of ways one can inhabit a body.
And now, we have an explosion of those resources. It's an amazing time we live in.
So yes, they're resources. But are they art?
I've been trying to figure out how I feel about all this writing/photograph posting/videography that we have so much of these days. Is it an art form? Just more public journaling? Something new? A variety of something old?
Perhaps the answer is as it has always been: some of it is very new, while some of it is a variation of what's come before--or not even a variation but something old style made with new tools. And some of it rises to the level of art, and some does not. And perhaps some of it won't be declared art for many decades/centuries.
Are there Facebook posts that rise to the level of art? Tweets?
Does art have to be considered/sculpted/revisited before we call it art? My friend says we're seeing a new development, that we've never had writing this open before. I would agree. Even those memoirs which seem so shockingly raw have an element of being manufactured.
And because of her blog, Adams has so far raised over $100,000 for cancer research. But even if she hadn't done that, her writing would be valuable to a wide variety of people: her family, fellow cancer patients, and people who appreciate fine writing. No small thing.
And yes, I'd call it art.