Polonius: Sword Storage


On my drive into work this morning, I was listening to the amazing Vienna Teng song “Goodnight, New York,” which has these lines:

I’ll see you all on the other side
After I am a different man with different eyes

It got me thinking about the difference between stasis and motion. Are we living out Bill’s “To thine own self be true” or are we always becoming something else?

I can see it either way. Even though the lines are spoken by Polonius, a character whose best use is as sword storage, there’s value to the idea of maintaining your core values, your true inner self. This is the cry of idealistic youth watching their heroes sell out. You hear it behind every use of a punk song to sell beer or cars, after every art masterpiece licensed to hawk shoes. Most ironically, it’s heard when certain businesses proclaim that they “stick to their core principles,” since these principles might seem to be simply “stick it to the customer.” (Hello? Time Warner?)

As I get older (I’ve mentioned that I’m 23 now?), I’m increasingly persuaded by the idea that we’re always becoming, always intaking new data and comparing it against existing structures to see what impact it has on our perceptions. As columnist Sydney J Harris said, “Being yourself is not remaining what you were, or being satisfied with what you are. It is the point of departure.”

Finding points of departure was one of the reasons that I started this blog and the radio show. Although I’d interviewed artists and writers for years, Craft represented a break with certain kinds of interviews and the welcoming of others. No more interviews with people who didn’t want to be interviewed. (One of my worst interviews was with an academic who confessed to being terrified of being interviewed and who showed no apparent interest in her area of study. Awesome.) No more interviews with people who didn’t engage creativity.

This last sentence may seem harsh, but it’s perhaps softened by the realization that I know I can fall into the uncreative category. Every time I end the show with the admonition, “Be creative,” I feel a little like Polonius. How can I not have something more creative to say?

When I said something like that to an artist friend, she responded with “YOU CAN BE ARTISTIC. DON’T RUN FROM IT.” (You know how those creative types like to use all caps.) Maybe it’s time I buy a beret?

So where are you? In your life are you becoming something or are you already there? Are you in process or completed? First person to comment gets 5 books from the Craft library.

Still here? Don’t forget to send me your ideas for the Halloween show

About Doug Dangler

Current: Host of Craft on WCBE, 90.5 FM, central Ohio's NPR station. Former: creator, host, and producer of Writers Talk
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