The Vagarious World of Art

The Romans had said it: Vita brevi, ars longa.

Life is so brief, so short, so soon, but art is so long, one of perpetuity, one of endlessness.

The Romans, of course, plagiarized the Greeks.

They stole the gods of Olympus and gave them Roman names.

They never returned these gods; they owned them in the end. Walang saulihan.

And they all made them into their mythology, into their art by making them permanent residents of their literary and mythic world.

Writers are copycats, cheats, borrowers, plagiarists, imitators. Like the Romans.

Like the claim of the philosopher of language, writers do not have a claim on the first sentence.

For writers, in fact, their sentences must have come from other sources however fuzzy and opaque this claim is.

What does this whole thing suggest vis-a-vis our attempt to understand the fate of a struggling writer?

Damn, and damn it. The aphorism says a lot.

Like this, this vagariousness of art.

This vagariousness of its world.

This vagariousness of life itself.

This vagariousness of the same life that art imitates, pictures, portrays in terms of human words, finite and temporal, terrorizing and surprising, empty and full--in effect, in a different and differing light that only words as language offer.

Part of the vagariousness of art is to be tough when times are tough.

Toughened by the hard times, art survives.

Toughened by the difficult times, the artist survives.

I see this in the geography of the difficult and hard and tough times that I have gone through as an exile.

So, the Romans are wrong, even in their plagiarism.

The aphorism ought to read as: Vita longa, ars longa.

A. S. Agcaoili
Torrance, CA
June 14/15, 2006

A. S. Agcaoili
Torrance, CA
June 14, 2006

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