To Oscar Wilde (twelfth letter)

 

My Dear Sir,
Is this project useless? I suppose it’s conjured many moods that aren’t of much use, but this has never been my only aim. Have I attempted to instruct or influence action with these not sent letters?  Probably — but at times the whole affair can also seem so sterile and contained, and yes, there’s some notes of pleasure in that.  Perhaps my willful failure at making art, at least a properly useless art as you once put it, ends up being a properly useless living of life (quite opposite to the obscene uselessness of socially necessitated careers in finance, policing, education or culture for instance).  Has it kept me young?  That’s a definite no.   Has a contemplation of my work caused activity of any kind?  Most likely just paralysis.  Has the project been of a second-rate order in relation to intentionally pointless art?  Only, I presume, if the questions I am asking here are in fact an instrumentalized task or errand serving interests that are against my own.  I don’t believe they are because I wouldn’t be able to earnestly inhabit them if they were.
If this project were a flower, the blossom would be ugly, smelly, or otherwise unappealing.  I’ve helped it grow because of the joy it brings me, but it’s also made me acutely anxious, frustrated and sad at times.  Perhaps how we relate to flowers can be as complicated as our relationships to art.  Maybe, in part, the many moods of useless flowers and art sublimate a sort of kicking and screaming about being in the world.
Yes, you may sell a flower, and so make it materially useful to yourself, and yes, this has nothing to do with the flower in and of itself — but who or what ultimately determines or interprets the essence of the act or the thing or the usefulness of either? What isn’t meaningless at root?  Subjective truths?  Knowingly passing over such questions in silence?  Willful blindness?  Waiting when you know nothing will come?  Writing a letter and not sending it?
You still provoke me to find out.

 

Sincerely and with thanks,

jeremy