Thomas – I can’t always be clear on what I mean, I’ve come to realise that. Certain types of communication rely on obfuscation to best convey what is being said. I can’t abide Hemingway. I can’t stand realism. I can’t watch television because everything is too literal. It’s like a dream – nobody expects a straight forward interpretation, rather they want ambiguity and the ability to interpret for themselves. So why can’t everything else be like that? Why do we need an answer? Why do we need metrics? If something can be measured then isn’t it by definition incapable of being a work of genius? Measurements imply that something has come before by which to provide a control, a measuring stick, and genius allows for no parents. I want someone to take my life – which is my work – and my work – which is my life – and come away from it awed, unsure, exhilarated and confused. For some reason whenever I say these things I call to mind a butcher preparing a bloody carcass and the eventual cuts of meats they create. Does it fit? Probably not. But I can’t shake it. I imagine a butcher, young, somewhat inexperienced, as they push the carcass this way and that, and then they slice. And then they carve. Nothing is wasted. Meat goes into a bucket, bones and fat goes into buckets. Offal goes into a bucket. All will be useful in some way. The butcher doesn’t know how, exactly, they aren’t responsible for what someone does with the constituent parts, the butcher’s responsibility is to do the best job they can and to fill those buckets. The question I ask myself, the way to tie it in is, who am I in all of this? What I am about? Am I the butcher or the meat? And I don’t know. But I have to think about it. I can’t be pure, and I can’t engage in perfect exercises designed to show mastery of some small facet. I have to be everything.
Philip – You’re the meat, but you wish you were the butcher.
Part of the Railroad Perfection series