Why is it that nothing ever seems as good when you show it to someone else as it did when you were alone? There may, in fact, be several answers to this question. But perhaps it has something to do with tone. You see, to really get the most out of a piece of art, you’ve got to match your tone with that of the work as you perceive it—be one with it as it were. When you’re alone, your emotions are supple, and ready to adjust and be adjusted.
The artist is hurting? I remember when I was hurting. The artist is bitter? No problem. This is why people come out of an art exhibit saying they’re one way or another. If you come out of a show saying you’re confused, probably so was the artist.
But when you’re with other people, some portion of your attention must go toward them, wondering what they are thinking, knowing their experience is in part your responsibility—or something like that. Anyway, with all this excitement going off in your head, it’s no wonder your favorite song has come up a bit, limp.
That’s why we always tend to make new discoveries in works of art when we’re alone. And God punishes us by making us instantly want to share them with someone else.
This theory got started when Ariel Sharon was reading a piece I wrote called 'cars.html' and told me he didn't like it as much as the other thing he had read. At first I tried to commit suicide by striking myself on the head with a heavy bottle, but the bottle was too heavy. I could not lift it. Mr. Sharon offered to lift it for me, but by then I had already changed my mind. He spoke about his childhood—what it was like to grow up in a family with eight sisters—and what he didn't like about my piece. "It's the tone," said Sharon. "It's too negative." And he was right. I was too negative. I was too bitter. Bitter at cars, bitter at car commercials (except Volkswagon), bitter at Trent Lott (of brain), bitter at the entire SUV culture. And so I felt relief in 'satirizing' these things. I tried to think of more and more clever little tricks. I thought that was the way. And tone isn't just how you feel about the subject, it's how you see yourself. I see now that I was too tickled with my own little schemes.
So they didn't like the tone, eh?
And now that I see it, neither do I. But when the tone of a piece of writing is so pervasive, how can you possibly fix it? It's like when you total your car, and they tell you it would be a lot easier to just to take the blue book value and buy a whole new car. And you believe them and give them your car. For $200. You idiot. So instead of agonizing over this (I don't like to agonize), I will do like the Cleveland Museum of Art with the vandalized Rodin's Thinker and just leave it 'as is' to make a new and powerful statement. "More donations." Things written in anger will launch like a boat with tiny holes in. Over time, the holes will expand and the boat will sink, or the holes will stay the same size and the boat will still sink, only a little further out. Better to build a house of bricks. Home