I’ve been talking about how (thanks to the influence of The Artist’s Way), Fall 2013 found me just flooded with creative energy. I was painting (despite the fact that I’m a terrible painter!) and I was writing all the time (despite the fact that the crazy fiction story I was working on couldn’t ultimately sustain itself…and I kind of knew it, even as I was writing it.)
I’m not saying I was making good art! But that wasn’t the point. It was about throwing open creative doors and just letting things – any things, no judgement – pour out.
Visual art particularly came back onto my radar in a big way at this time.
I say “back” because, though I have a master’s degree in Art History, it had been a long time since I’d paid visual art any attention whatever. Graduate school + a not-very-great marriage + infants + end-of-marriage trauma had all worked together to pretty much destroy my ability to connect with art in a way that had once been so natural – and so edifying – to me.
I had begun slowly to work my way back in this area before Fall 2013 – thanks to an access to museums that I hadn’t been situated to experience in a very long time. That was helping. But reading The Artist’s Way really brought me the rest of the way back.
So, with my art-interest reignited, I was amusing myself in my free moments with re-learning art history. I got some books out of the library, I poked around on the internet. It was fun!
But then I started to get curious about the more contemporary art world – as in the art that had been produced in the decade since I’d last been in school. Library books weren’t so helpful here. The internet was more so. What I really wanted though (as I was beginning to get more and more dependent on Twitter as a news and info source for all manner of things) was to find good art sites to follow on Twitter.
I was still a fairly newbie Twitter user at this time. I’d had an account for a while without ever using it, and was really just beginning with it now. So while I occasionally came across interesting stuff, my pursuit of art-via-Twitter was rather laborious and slow.
But then I got lucky.
Or was it luck? (That’s the kind of question you have to ask from within a post series that contains discussion of The Alchemist!) Luck or fate? Random coincidence or a signpost you needed to find to enable your own progress?
If you press me, I suppose I would choose the logical framework. But honestly? I’m kind of 50/50. I admit it. I straddle the fence on such things.
It keeps life interesting!
At any rate, here’s what happened:
I was writing this fiction story about a woman traveling through dimensions. There were other paranormal happenings, too. (Opening the imagination floodgates usually results in something a little crazy! Unfortunately rarely publishable or even showable to anybody else…but pretty much always fun for me.)
Anyway, something about the central character of my story kept recalling for me the character of Sydney Bristow from the t.v. show, Alias.
And this was getting in my way a little bit because I wasn’t trying to model my character on Sydney Bristow – or anyone else. In fact I most definitely didn’t want to do that. I wanted to write with more originality than that. But I couldn’t shake the Sydney. She just kept popping into my head.
I finally took a break and, as I was (and am) apt to do in break-taking moments, I started poking around on Twitter. I was looking at art stuff…looking at whatever.
And (by complete chance) I almost immediately happened upon a link to an interview with Jennifer Garner – who, for anyone who doesn’t know or doesn’t remember, is the actress who played Sydney Bristow.
That was a funny coincidence. Funny…and really rather odd, seeing as I’d actually escaped to Twitter to try to get a Jennifer Garner character out of my head.
I liked Alias a lot during most of its run – and I was a big fan of Jennifer Garner in it. I liked the way she could make Sydney so sweet and real, and yet such a great – and totally kickass! – spy in the next moment. (I also had a bit of a crush on Michael Vartan, which contributed to my tuning in every week…but that’s neither here nor there.) But I can’t say I’d given Jennifer Garner any thought whatever since Alias ended. I read at some point that she had married Ben Affleck (information gleaned from flipping through US Weekly and People at the supermarket checkout line, I’m sure.) I filed that away, into whatever part of my brain I keep gossip/trivia/etc. That was about it.
Until, that is, I started writing this bit of fiction and she (in the guise of Sydney Bristow) began popping into my brain.
I went ahead and clicked on the link to the interview, and actually ended up watching the whole 10 or 15 minute thing.
I never did get back to writing that night. I actually never really went back to the story I was working on.
It’s funny to think about that now – to look back and think that maybe writing that story wasn’t actually the point. Maybe the point was to begin writing the story, so that I could get distracted by Sydney Bristow taking over my character, which would then compel me to escape to Twitter, where I would run up against that interview with Jennifer Garner (an interview which jumped out at me because of the Sydney thing.)
And then that interview was actually a bridge to some other things that have been rather significant.
That I find that sequence of events noteworthy – that I even see any sort of path/progression there at all – is, I’m aware, totally fueled by this, from The Alchemist:
“‘There’s no such thing as coincidence,’ said the Englishman, picking up the conversation where it had been interrupted in the warehouse. ‘I’m here because a friend of mine heard of an Arab who…’
But the caravan began to move, and it was impossible to hear what the Englishman was saying. The boy knew what he was about to describe, though: the mysterious chain that links one thing to another, the same chain that had caused him to become a shepherd, that had caused his recurring dream, that had brought him to a city near Afreica, to find a king, and to be robbed in order to meet a crystal merchant and…”
~Paulo Coelho, in The Alchemist, pg. 72
I get that my imagination was/is engaged by passages like this. (And the whole book is like this passage.)
Anyway, to continue:
The Jennifer Garner interview was interesting, as it turned out. She was promoting her new (at that time) movie, Dallas Buyers Club. She was talking about Matthew McConaughey having lost a large amount of weight for his role in it – and I vaguely remembered reading something about that several months prior. She and the interviewer referred a few times to another actor in the film, “Jared,” who also had apparently lost a great deal of weight for his part – to the point that she (Jennifer) was actually concerned about his health at the time.
They didn’t elaborate on who “Jared” was – which got me a little curious. I couldn’t think of any actors named Jared, so I figured it was some younger actor that I’d never heard of.
By the time the interview was over, I was interested enough in the sound of the movie to look up more about it – so I did. And while I did, I took note of who this “Jared” person was. That was how I read that “Jared” was in fact Jared Leto, who I actually had heard of before, though I hadn’t seen any of his movies (I didn’t think) – just maybe an episode of his old nineties t.v. show (My So-Called Life.)
But then I saw a reference that he had been in Fight Club – so then I had to look that up to see what part exactly he’d played in that, as I couldn’t place him at all in my memory of it.
And right there is how you end up following a thread on the internet that eats up an hour or two of your night!
One thing I learned that night is that Jared Leto is a chameleon – so actually, not remembering that it was him in various of his movies (like Panic Room, for instance, which I had also seen) doesn’t actually mean I have a faulty memory. I don’t know that I can think of another actor who disappears into his roles as much as he does.
Case in point, Dallas Buyers Club – which I did eventually see. He was excellent in that.
(But of course Jared Leto film roles, like Michael Vartan crushes, are also neither here nor there as far as this post is concerned. I’ll just stop this tangent before it gathers steam!)
What I’m trying to establish is that a series of coincidences carried me along an internet thread. It started with Sydney Bristow and then wound its way around and around until I found myself, out of pure pop culture curiosity, doing a Google search of Jared Leto and landing on his Twitter feed.
And I found that Jared Leto’s Twitter feed, totally unexpectedly, was the source for art sites on Twitter I’d been wishing for! That was a very nice surprise that night.
I seriously owe a big debt of gratitude to whoever runs his Twitter account (I imagine it probably isn’t actually him – or, at least, only him. Do any celebrities actually run their own social media accounts?) Having access to that really accelerated my ability to access things-art – and that helped me a lot at that time. I was craving knowledge and information – and so many sites that I ended up following and learning from, I plucked directly from there: My Modern Metropolis, The Visual News, ArtNet, Juxtapoz Magazine, Colossal. There are several more.
I still look at his tweets at least every couple of days, on purpose to see what art he’s chosen to pass on info about. Nine times out of ten, it’s something really worth looking at and reading more about.
And okay: what I just said – that I still look at Jared Leto’s Twitter feed every couple of days to see if he’s tweeted anything about art – represents the next step along the path I’m tracing with this post series.
And that’s because Jared Leto also tweets a lot about his band. I hadn’t heard of them prior to following him on Twitter, and so knew nothing about them or their music. Scanning his tweets, however, it’s impossible not to learn at least a little.
And that, to my surprise, has turned out to be a somewhat significant thing in relation to me and my photography.
To be continued…