Gary Giddins' book Natural Selection contains a piece on Billie Holiday entitled "On Her 90th Birthday." It opens with this:
"We live under the sway of artists who haunt our lives, who take hold at an early age and never let go; they inform us of our progress in the world as our perceptions of them change. Faulkner once said that Don Quixote had to be read three times, in childhood, adulthood, and old age, because it is really three books and aspects of it are available only in stages. Over time, we bring more connections to works of art - connections that belong to us, not necessarily to the work or the artist."Over at Slate.com, Clive James writes about Duke Ellington. The entire article is worth reading, but this quote really hit me.
"The alleged progession from mainstream to modern jazz, with bebop as the intermediary, had a political component as well an aesthetic one and it was the political component that made it impossible to argue against at the time, and makes it difficult even now. The aesthetic component was standard for all the arts in the 20th century: One after another they tried to move beyond mere enjoyment as a criterion, a move that put a premium on technique, turned technique into subject matter, and eventually made professional expertise a requirement not just for participation but even for appreciation. The political component, however, was unique to jazz. It had to do with black dignity, a cause well worth making sacrifices for. Unfortunately, the joy of the music was one of the sacrifices. Dignity saw enjoyment as its enemy."I find both these pieces to be elegant. They offer insights through precise, well-crafted prose. The insights, with some adjustment, can be held up against animation to see if they offer new and useful perspectives. The Giddins quote makes me consider the films that I constantly return to. The James quote raises issues about the nature of non-narrative films and films that are dominated by design.
I deeply regret that so little writing of this sort exists about animation, but what's worse, I suspect that more such writing would exist if only animation was good enough to inspire it.