John Tang

Have I grown Deaf to Things?

Posted in Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on March 8, 2012

When was the last time I walked around without music, in silence? Even in high school I rode the bus with a cd player and watched the flowers flow to the rhythm of hiphop; then eventually I’d give my attention to the artist as if I wanted to be him. Have I forgotten Things, in the Rilkean sense, has music, too? Have I lost the innocence to pay attention to Things, the dreams they’ve rendered for us? It makes me sad to believe I don’t listen well enough, not with the precision of a poet like Rilke—the master and close friend of mine. Today I walked home from San Francisco State listening to a rap artist by the name of Copywrite. The man had amazing sense of cadence and precise lyrics about his family and those who oppose him in a battle rap cipher. When I came home I unplugged my ear phones and put the ipod on the table. My studio apartment was so open even though it was about half the size of a car garage and filled with books and furniture. While I plugged in my laptop, I also pulled out a book I forgotten since this morning: Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letter’s to Cezanne.” They weren’t letters addressed to the painter, but they were his thoughts on the painter through letters to his wife, friends and publishers. I read a passage that lifted me from my seat: You must live in your work. I thought, When was the last time I wrote genuinely, when I wrote with necessity? I came many more passages in the letters that had beautiful renderings of life, of the rain, the greenish yellow of the flower’s petals, so on and so forth; and the Rilke’s renderings made me thing: When was the last time I rendered an image? With my thirty minute walk back home, I should have a room full of Things. But I didn’t. I grew ashamed at my artistry. I had forgotten Things have voice, and I only needed to do was listen to them well to live inside my works.


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