The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Re-Verse pt. 3

with 2 comments

Arthur Penn died last week.  The name didn’t mean too much to me; I knew it through of my love of film–  he was the director behind Bonnie and Clyde.  Then on Thursday I read an article about him in the Trib and was struck by what he had to say about the climatic scene in Bonnie and Clyde that established his legacy and changed cinema.  It gets to the heart of metacognition and “artistic vision”:

“I was reluctant to say ‘yes’ to doing ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ because I wanted an ending that was simply not just violent…  I wanted one that would, in a certain sense, transport — lift it — into legend…  And it wasn’t until I woke up one morning and I could see that scene with multiple camera speeds and the shape of the almost ballet of dying, and then I knew that that was a film I wanted to make — desperately.”

Click here for Penn’s commentary and to view the infamous scene.

It just “came” to him.  That’s how the art works inside you; that’s when you know that you’re pulling yourself in the right direction, that you have vision and ability.  It’s moments like what Penn described that tell you you’re doing what you should be doing with your life and your art.  Those are the moments when the muse is pressing her fingerprint into your mind.  Writing, directing film, acting, painting, composing, scultpture…  it doesn’t matter– it’s those very visions that create transcendent experiences that elevate your mind and your art, that seem to almost elevate you beyond mortality.

It seems, too, that strange events like stumbling upon the Penn article happen with some frequency when I’m writing something.  I run across a quote, or see something on YouTube, or there’s a news story that in some way figures into something that I’m working on.  I had mentioned when I started this serial how my visions for the two poems I’m working on just “came” to me , and then this quote from Penn seemingly drops out of nowhere.  The visions just seem to happen; I don’t know that I can explain it any better.  But I can’t say these are capricious happenings because I don’t believe they are.  I think you have to know your craft–  it’s gears and sprockets and belts and pulleys, you have to keep yourself wide open to all kinds of possibilities, and you have to look at even the most mundane things through the lens of possibility.  Maybe then you can encourage the muse to look your way and maybe even wink at you.

It’s a funny thing, writing.


Written by seeker70

October 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Jeff–someplace I ran across someone who said something to the effect that writing is really easy. All you have to do is open a vein. Tongue-in-check, of course, but there is something of a flow to it, isn’t there? I know that I’m writing badly when it feels like work, like I’m forcing it. Then, out of nowhere, comes a word, phrase, or comment and it suddenly jells (or not). All in all, it’s a love hate relationship we have here. We cannot NOT do it.


    Ray Uloth

    October 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    • Ray- I think you’re talking about Hemingway. Funny, our man Herb Ramlose just emailed me about a previous post in which he cited what I think is the same quote: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
      It sure feels like that sometimes, huh? Right now, I’m glad to see that my poetry tools are still relatively sharp and well-oiled. It’s been a while!


      October 6, 2010 at 7:26 pm

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