Why Only Art (and Maybe Love) Will Ever Save You
Save you from what, precisely, is where your mileage may vary.
But everybody hurts sometime – as R.E.M. assured us back in the day – and sometimes that hurt is an existential sort of hurt that comes from not knowing what to do with your life, exactly; or not knowing where you fit, really, in the big scheme of things; or not having the confidence to step out there into The Great Untried and just see what kind of response – internal and external – that first act of stepping-out might provoke.
And wouldn't we all like to be saved from that? Don't we all need, every now and then throughout our long strange journey in this world, to be at least briefly saved from that?
In many cases, hallelujah, the sisters – as Aretha Franklin and the Eurythmics sang – are doing it for themselves.
Lynda Barry's newest book, Syllabus, is now out from Canada's graphic-novel powerhouse Drawn & Quarterly, and it's a sort of coda to her What It Is and Picture This books of creative how-to memoirs. Although "a sort of coda" doesn't do the book justice, really, since the volume is a standalone amalgam of lessons plans for (and the activities in, and the results of) the art classes that Barry, an "accidental professor" that any instructor would hope to be as delightful and inspirational as, teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The book is presented as Barry's own thoroughly illustrated composition notebook; it packs so much practical advice and passionate exhorting and beautiful drawing into its 200 pages that you'd think it was a sort ofTARDIS. Talk about saving someone, Lynda Barry's relentless life-affirming insistence on surrendering to your imagination and creative passions is likely to rescue more stymied artists than Doctor Who has ever shared a continuum with. So you should have a copy for yourself, we're suggesting here: To spur you onward – or just to delight your artloving senses with.