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I desire to produce a Great Work - the term I will use to avoid a lengthy, linguistically-bound dissertation on its specifics - but I find that, while I long to produce and offer a work (a work of art - writing, animation, film, or a combination) of Content (something with meaning and value beyond surface value; also, thought-provoking, e.g. the animated series Neon Genesis Evangelion or Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis,) I hate the thought of ignorant persons maiming the work, or enjoying it in a puerile manner for superficial reasons alone (e.g., thinking Metamorphosis was just some cool story because the guy turns into a bug, or Evangelion because it has giant robots.) This makes me reticent to create anything. Is this purely some sort of narcissistic elitism, or is it a legitimate concern? How have prior artists worked through misanthropy towards the ignorant to continue to create? Is there an established explanation of why myself or others feel this way about the full value of a work being discarded in favor of a small piece of it?

April 27, 2006

Response from Nicholas D. Smith on April 27, 2006

Great works--and also not-so-great works--are a bit like children to us. We bring them into being as a result of our desire, we do our best to nurture and to preserve them, and to advantage them in the world as best we can...and then we turn them loose into a world that may love or hate, may celebrate or destroy them. Once our children (fleshly and otherwise) are "out there," we have little to no continuing control over how things will go for them. And the surest thing of all, I'm afraid, is that not everything will go well for them.

I will venture to advise you that so long as you are fixed on how your work will be received by others, you need not worry about producing anything Great. Indeed, the greater the work, the less likely it is, I think, that the work will be received or understood both completely and very generally. If there is true greatness within you--or if some great Muse (take that any way you will!) elects to speak through you--then the Great Work will be created only because of the greatness that motivates it. It will be celebrated, scorned, or treated with indifference--each reaction showing something only about the one so reacting, and signifying nothing at all about the work itself. Do not concern yourself with such things, for you have absolutely no control over them. If you will produce some Great Work, then first find the greatness--and then fasten your seat belt as it shows you where it must go.


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