View this email in your browser

old is new

Six years ago this time, 16-year-old Nikhil was procrastinating.  I was nearing the conclusion of my junior year, and I created a document filled with college essay prompts. Although I didn’t like my writing, part of me believed that I could to weave the most beautiful linguistic tapestry that would single-handedly get me into the university of my desires. Only one thing stood in my way: an extremely privileged life. “If only I had real-life experiences and not the sheltered lifestyle of a middle-class American,” I wept. Woe was me, but there were essays to be written. To overcome this colossal life problem, I had to get creative with my essays. I created wildly inconsistent metaphors comparing school subjects to girls I was dating and explained how pairs of headphones served as milestones in my understanding of the world. 

Ultimately, my essays didn’t differentiate me, and I attended a school that asked for a 150-word essay that I submitted with 3 typos (found immediately after submission). But the experience changed the way I thought about the artistic potential of the world around me. Maybe I could take the raw material of whatever happened in my life and turn it into something interesting, with the right lens.

Russian literary theorist Viktor Shklovsky stated that “the purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known.” Essentially, art is purposeful when it can make us see things differently than we normally do. In this way, the mundane comings and goings of one’s life get turned into fascinating novels and memoirs. A simple sunset gets turned into Starry Night and a banana makes us question the entire institution of high art. The sounds of a folk song can get turned into a pop hit or interpolated into a melancholy ballad. In this art, we see the familiar as we first saw it: with the glow of novelty.

Artists have this incredible power to make the commonplace new again. The commonplace doesn’t just mean the things that you see every day, it can be anything known in culture, from the Mona Lisa and American Idol to Beethoven and Fortnite. And the mundane isn’t a static category either. Everything new quickly becomes old, regardless of how important it seems initially. Think about the excitement of getting a new phone or computer — as life-changing as the upgrade seems at first, it’s only a few weeks before it’s the new normal. You quickly forget how things used to be. Nothing stays new forever.

The world’s on fire so it’s a perfect time to focus on the mundane. Even as everything seems to change, some things stay the same, as boring as ever. Look around you. Notice the things that you stopped noticing years ago because they just became a part of the background. You’ll start to see the glimmering novelty of the world more clearly and hopefully find some solace. And if you can find the space within yourself, consider sharing it, whether with paint or words or songs or dances or photos or films or smiles. 
Thanks so much for reading! If you're not already subscribed, I'd love for you to subscribe here.

Distantly yours,

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Nikhil · 325327 Georgia Tech Station · Atlanta, GA 30332 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp