Thoughts for Friday – 9th May 2014

Charles Bukowski

Welcome to this week’s edition of ‘Thoughts for Friday’!

While real life personal and professional commitments continue to keep me busy, there is simply no way that I would not make time for sharing another quote with you all. I’ve become rather attached to this weekly series and have been overwhelmed by the response to it since I first began back in November 2013.

The quote I have chosen for this week comes from Charles Bukowski, a German-American poet, novelist and short story writer. Much of Bukowski’s work centered on the theme of the poorer side of the city of Los Angeles in which he lived. Bukowski tackled many of the more uncomfortable aspects of life such as the ‘drudgery of work’, the lives of the poor, relationships with women and alcohol, and was referred to as the ‘laureate of American lowlife’ by Time magazine in 1986.

It is clear from Bukowski’s writing that he was a man proud of his working-class roots and that he saw himself more as a poor artist than any kind of intellectual and this shapes the quote that I’ve chosen for this week’s column. I’m sure that we’ve all met an intellectual at some point or another during our lives and have been left confused by some convoluted or archaic phrase they’ve used. Usually, the intellectual does this in order to make the person they’re talking to feel small or inferior. Why not just say things simply and clearly so that we all understand?

There are differing levels of intelligence throughout society and so it stands to reason that some people will be gifted with a higher IQ than the common man, but why flaunt that fact with highfalutin words that nobody understands? It doesn’t make you look big or clever, it just makes you look conceited and arrogant.

The difference between an intellectual and an artist – as Bukowski skillfully points out – is that an artist usually has something complex and profound to say yet does it in such a way that it seems simple. Writing is an excellent example of a creative art that takes great skill, determination,and a hell of a lot of hard work to achieve. A simple sentence in your favourite book may have been something that the author slaved over for hours, weeks, months, possibly even years. It seems so easy, yet the emotions and images that sentence conveys have taken much from the author themselves.

Artists have an ingrained passion for their work and will shed blood, sweat, and tears in order to achieve it if they have to. It is that level of dedication and artistry that comes across so easily in their work and makes something so hard to convey seem easy.

So keep in mind the next time that you read, see, or hear a striking piece of art and give consideration to the fact that its creator has made something so beautiful and profound appear to be the simplest and easiest thing in the world.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Thoughts for Friday – 9th May 2014

  1. Heather, I think you just sent me a much needed KISS (keep it simple, stupid!).
    What matters is the story. I don’t want anyone to be put off reading anything I may write, by inaccessible language. I’m sure there will be more than enough otherwise to put people off.

  2. A really great post, and such a good point. Making things seem easy is part of being a great writer/artist πŸ™‚

    • Exactly, and that’s why this quote spoke to me πŸ™‚

      The art of making something difficult look easy is a hard one to master, yet is the key to success for many an artist.

  3. Huh – interesting! I always thought my task as an academic was to try and take something hugely difficult and put it into words to make understanding easier. I think a better way to think of it is that intellectuals (or academics, for those of us who find “intellectual” to be a presumptuous title – cringe!) is that the goal is to take something simplex (Truth, with a capital T) and make it complex (as in, broken into parts and pieces so we can think it through rationally.

    I think art can get to the simplex version without those steps, if it’s good art. Personally, I need both methods – I need to take the big idea and break it down into details and theoretical explanations, and I need to stand before beauty and let it wash over me. I want it all!

    • Oh, I hope you didn’t think I was taking some kind of swipe at academics, that wasn’t my intention at all!

      I have come across a number of people who called themselves ‘intellectuals’ and they used a lot of archaic language that they thought I wouldn’t understand.

      I agree with your comments about academia and the arts though πŸ™‚

      • Oh, no I didn’t take it as an insult at all! I was just thinking through my own preconceived notions a little. I’ve always thought that academia was trying to do what the artist does, but I think the tasks are not aligned, but perhaps complementary.

      • Thanks for replying so quickly and putting my mind at ease. The last thing I would ever want to do is offend or insult anyone πŸ™‚

  4. Wise words to remember!

  5. I love this quote. I think I’m going to put in on my Facebook page.
    So true too eh.
    Thanks Heather.
    πŸ™‚

  6. Wonderful quote and lovely post. How true it is and how interesting Charles Bukowski was. Keep up these great quotes, they really make me think!

  7. So true. I love how one sentence can say so much about a character and the story, and that sentence might be about a cup of coffee.

    • It seems to be a trait if most of my stories that they have at least on scene where a cup of coffee is front and centre. Not that I’m addicted to the stuff or anything…. πŸ˜†

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