Jonathan Harris is an artist I just came across last night, but already, there’s something about what he’s up to that appeals to me. Go to his website to explore. He begins with a clear statement of vision, and then you go to a page with descriptions of his work. He is working in the space where humans touch technology, and his basic thought is that somehow, technology isn’t necessarily helping us become more human. As a believer in technology, Harris is doing some pretty amazing things with the grammar and syntax of what technology can do in story-telling and expression.
The piece I came across last night is called World Building in a Crazy World. The title appealed to me immediately, because when it comes down to it, that’s what I think we’re here for. To create and make worlds in light of God’s ongoing making, in an amazing partnership between humanity and divinity. The first piece of this work is called “Baz” in which Harris recounts two stories about his fourth grade teacher. The gist of what emerges from these stories is to bring all of yourself to the work everyday, and to stop thinking you have the answers to the big questions, especially if that pride is bleeding into what you’re trying to do as a playwright.
As I read that story, I knew I needed to sit up and pay attention. Baz had told Harris that he’d wept one day over his realization that his disappointment with the plays he was writing stemmed from his desire to impress his audiences with big answers to big questions. He decided to own the fact that he didn’t know the big answers, and concentrated on asking the right questions, and inviting the audience into the answering.
I suppose it helped me because all around me I see big questions. The Civil War (inspiration for current project) is a huge question, and there are times when I get glimpses of answers that I want to tell everyone. Pride is insidious.
Go read World Building In A Crazy World. It will take you about 15-20 minutes. You’ll hear a call to humanize the digital world, a call to make those worlds beautiful, and a few pointers (one I found sort of life-saving) about how to find a place to put your feet down in a world of constant, overwhelming flux.