Read a book the other day my brother recommended me – The Collector by John Fowles, written and set in 1960s England. An extremely gripping novel that caught my attention right from the start. I won’t give much of the plot away (try not to read the blurb on the back if you enjoy a surprise) but as you can see from the cover, one of the main characters is a butterfly collector.
One of my favourite sections from the book was a list of 8 rules that one must obey to be a great artist, listed by an art student. I’ve edited them slightly so as to not give any of the plot away:
- If you are a real artist, you give your whole being to your art. Anything short of that, then you are not an artist.
- You don’t ‘gush’. You don’t have little set-pieces or set-ideas you gush out to impress people with.
- You have to be Left politically because the Socialists are the only people who care, for all their mistakes. They feel, they want to better the world.
- You must make, always. You must act, if you believe something. Talking about acting is like boasting about pictures you’re going to paint. The most terrible bad form.
- If you feel something deeply, you’re not ashamed to show your feeling.
- You accept that you are English. You don’t pretend that you’d rather be French or Italian or something else.
- But you don’t compromise with your background. You cut off all the old you that gets in the way of the maker you. If you’re suburban, you throw away (cauterise) the suburbs. If you’re working class, you cauterise the working class in you. And the same, whatever class you are, because class is primitive and silly.
- You hate the political business of nationality. You hate everything, in politics and art and everything else, that is not genuine and deep and necessary. You don’t have any time for silly trivial things. You live seriously. You don’t go to silly films, even if you want to; you don’t read cheap newspapers; you don’t listen to trash on the wireless and the telly; you don’t waste time talking about nothing. You use your life.
I thoroughly recommend the book.