Culture | Art | History | Writing

What We Hold On To

“You once told me that the human eye is god’s loneliest creation. How so much of the world passes through the pupil and still it holds nothing. The eye, alone in its socket, doesn’t even know there’s another one, just like it, an inch away, just as hungry, as empty. Opening the front door to the first snowfall of my life, you whispered, ‘Look.'”Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

We write to express ourselves, don’t we? But also to see. For the writer observes the world. Otherwise what do we hold on to, in the end? Memories and the occasional catchy phrases. For a moment to last we must create. I think all artists work to share a vision with the world. Their work naturally exists after the vision the artist is sharing, and thus becomes a way to retain that which would have otherwise disappeared.

A photographer snaps a picture that represents an instant in time. Immediately it becomes a historical document of what once was. It becomes a way of holding on to the past. We can all play this game of looking at pictures and remembering moments that had otherwise slipped to the recesses of our minds. People and objects that once were but are now just memories and memorabilia. All art drives a similar stake in the ground, capturing that moment in the artist’s life expressed in their creation. Art captures us as we once were.

What do we hold on to? What do we let go of? Some moments are forever locked in amber, some drift away immediately. What we experience and what we hold on to are never the same thing. Think about the things we’ve all experienced over the last few years. We can’t agree on what we all saw, how could we possibly agree on how to capture this moment?

Art is always subject to interpretation. It captures a moment through the perspective of the artist, and is received by the audience with their perspective in their moment. Life, and art, are indeed fleeting. The world passes through us, and we all disappear into the past together. All we can hold on to is the moment. But the artist tries to share it.

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