Friday, September 9, 1983

The art of self deception

I went to the library and the books I got out reflect my changing heart: The Art of Self-Deception (an “anti-modernist” attack on abstract and performance art, etc.), Concepts in Modern Art, Conversations with Marcel Duchamp and The New Avantgarde.

I had the germ of an idea that reading these will help me decide one way or another. I want to decide for myself whether I want to change to Art History, and by this I mean whether I want the change deep down, decisively, right to the bottom of my mind and heart, and not want to do kit because of Lee's influence and a feeble desire to be 'in.' “Won’t you get bored of that though?,” says Sean and I have got to concede that, knowing me, I probably will. Art History, the Cinderella subject. . . ., 'cos I'm not good enough, I don’t think, to do justice to an Art College. Lee even suggested I borrow his work to get on a foundation course at Watermouth.

My forté is writing and I write better than I paint or draw, although I'm aware of how second-hand and remote writing is as a medium medium for expression. It's the only thing I do with any particular skill or flair and I wish I had the motivation to force myself to write more imaginatively than this repetitious daily round of faces and events and my miserable mental musings.At this stage I think I'd enjoy it more if I was instead writing about art history.

None of this sounds very convincing and I'd have a job making out a case to my tutors at Watermouth. Do I want to write about art for three years? Is my dissatisfaction with my American Literature course simply a dislike of the circumstances in which I first came into contact with it?

I’ll always associate Kate Chopin and Thoreau with that bare bleak room overlooking the tangled quadrangle of Wollstonecraft Hall, with a mood of deadened frustration. A feeling grew that what I was doing had nothing whatsoever to do with my life and my hopes. It became something I had to do, and every part of me cried out in rebellion. Most of what I read nowadays is unconnected with my course-work anyway.

I’ve slowly got to swing my mind back towards an essay for Black Americans and the numerous books I have to read, and I’m doing it without a shred of enthusiasm. I’ve two weeks to make up my mind.

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