Web of Art
Rapture in the story,
power in the strands,
beauty in the blood and sweat and tears.
The web in all its glory,
the best of men’s laid plans,
ensnares us in our greatest loves and fears.
The third critical part of the Web of Art is the spider, the one that spins it all; the writer, director, sculpter, painter, carpenter or lutenist that made it all happen. The spider is, in short, the artist.
When it comes to considering the spider, there is much to be wondered at. What did they go through to create this? How much did they suffer? How much joy did this bring them? What was going though their heads as they wrote or played or chiseled? What more did they know that they didn’t tell us?
Sometimes, these questions can be partly answered by interviews or memoirs or behind-the-scenes documentaries. Often, the questions will remain forever in our heads to be wondered at. But answered or not, the wonderings are wonderful—in themselves, a deeper reach into the well of human experience.
How often is the spider in the wings, the man behind the scenes, appreciated? How often even noticed? Not so much as seems warranted.
Sometimes the Web has a single weaver; a writer or a painter, perhaps. But many Webs will have several spiders—a song; composed, then conducted, and played by every member of the orchestra. Who is the spider of this Web of song? Every artist who spun a thread.
A movie; scripted, directed, acted, filmed… There are more artist plying their craft in movie making than in most any other art; set designers and makeup artists, prop builders and techies; if you don’t believe me, watch the credits roll sometime.
So many of these spiders go unnoticed—who would have lauded the chainmail-linkers in Lord of the Rings if the behind-the-scenes footage hadn’t pointed them out?—and it’s understandable. It takes a great deal of awareness to look around and spot the artist in the wings. But the experience is so much richer when you can appreciate all three aspects of the Web of Art, so how to gain such an awareness?
My favorite way? Do. Want to be able to appreciate the craftsmanship and the craftsmen behind a movie? There’s no better way than to get behind the scenes yourself. Want to be able to understand the workings of a novel and the noveling life? Write one. Yes, I mean it.
But you can’t do everything you want to understand, so there’s another way—try to understand. Awareness is, as usual, the first step. If you want to watch, you’ll be that much more likely to see.
Look past Story alone, and see the whole glory of the Web of Art.