Uniquely Your Own Perspective
The Anthropocene Reviewed is a podcast narrated by John Green in which he reviews various artistic pieces. In Episode 24, he talks about the artist, Agnes Martin, and her series of paintings called “With My Back to the World.” In this episode, there is mention of how difficult it is to express pain in art. When hearing this, I could not help but relate to the struggle of successfully conveying what is in my head onto paper; not just in art, but in my writing.
Eighth grade was when I first became aware of this disconnect between my head and the words that came out on my paper. I have always been proficient at writing, yet being the perfectionist I am I could never get it perfect for myself. I saw the images in my head that I wanted to come out in my writing, and I wanted my readers to see them as well.
When given the opportunity to write freely in class, I often wrote about underdogs, misfits, and monsters. Much of it sounds like cliche topics for writing about, but looking back, those were the topics that were easiest for me because I myself felt like I did not belong. I did not have very many friends, and I felt isolated from many people during that period in my life.
My pain as an eighth grader was one that many young people experience in our modern world. Not fitting in or feeling as though you do not belong is hard for humans because we are naturally social beings. We crave human connection and contact. I wanted friends more than anything I had ever wanted before. Later, in high school, I would find them, but eighth grade Delaney was stuck with herself; so I turned to writing.
I remember writing a creative piece about a man-turned-monster for school. My teacher ended up pulling me aside and told me it was fantastic but surprisingly dark, given that we had the freedom to write about absolutely anything and I chose a monster. I was surprised she told me it was good because when I read and turned my piece in, it was not what I had wanted to create. Like John Green mentioned, it was hard for me to put my feelings into words and accurately describe my thoughts.
After this experience I began to recognize this disconnect. It didn’t negatively affect my writing, but it disappointed me because I wanted people to see and feel how I saw and felt whatever I was writing about. I wrote about this in another paper where my classmates and I were tasked with writing about what we could improve in as writers. I described what I thought I could do better to accurately depict my images and feelings in writing.
My teacher pulled me aside again after I turned in this essay. She thought it was funny that I thought I needed to improve on my descriptions of things in my writing. She told me that my writing and images were beautiful, and told me not to be too hard on myself. But what she said next really stuck with me.
She told me that she understood that I was not getting the images I wanted to convey into my writing, but that I should not stress the process. Writers grow and become more descriptive and advanced with time and practice. She also said that it was unlikely any person would read the same piece of writing and see the same things in it or feel the same way after.
Every individual is different and has experienced different circumstances in life. Where someone sees darkness, another may see a spark of hope. Putting pain or other feelings onto paper or into art may be difficult, but the odds of someone viewing it the same way as another is rare.
My takeaway from this was one of fascination. Truly realizing that no one sees something in the same way is crazy to think about. It’s incredible how many differing perspectives there are in this world, and it is brilliant to see other peoples’ unique points of view on the same topic.
In the podcast The Anthropocene Reviewed Episode 24, John Green reviews visual art pieces by Agnes Martin, specifically a series of six paintings she completed called “With My Back to the World.” The podcast emphasizes Martin’s belief that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We know objects and things are beautiful because we hold them as so in our minds.
I thought it was particularly interesting when John Green talked about how it is often difficult to express pain in art. Picasso was celebrated for his proficiency at it, yet many of us struggle. I thought that perhaps human beings’ general inability to open up or divulge when we are hurting might play an important factor in that. But it also may be difficult because pain is different for every individual. Just as beauty is in our minds, so is pain. Everyone has their own struggles and conflicts in life, and that may physically and figuratively look completely different for each person. One individual’s pain may starkly contrast with another’s.
This section of the podcast also caused some memories to resurface. In eight grade, I was tasked with writing an essay on what I could personally improve on in my writing. I chose to white about how I found it difficult to get what I envisioned in my head onto paper. Similar to what John Green spoke about, I had the pain and beauty vibrantly dancing around in my mind, images that I wanted to bring to life, yet I could not seem to describe them accurately or vividly enough on paper. It was hard for me to render and write what was exactly in my head, and I wrote a lengthy paper on the subject.