There is something deadening and degrading about the way we live and are taught to experience the world, the way commercial interests, fast pace, and technology flatten things so that we don’t see them any more.
Unless we’re exceptional souls, we’re usually so busy with our own lives, issues, and concerns, so self-absorbed that we become oblivious to things we see every day. Familiarity has become a defense mechanism. We are bombarded with so much information, so many images, so many choices, so many distractions that we have learned to filter out much or most of it: We ignore things to preserve our own sanity. Not to get political, but these choices and distractions keep the status quo humming and the lid of control tightly in place.
This need to ignore things in a would-be artists such as myself kills the wonder and curiosity an artist needs to see things in a new way, which is nothing less than a revolutionary act. After all, “novel” does mean “new.” I venture to say that many bestsellers published today are anything but novel, meaning, we need a more realistic word for fiction longer than 20,000 words.
But back to the idea of familiarity. I have to fight constantly against laziness, numbness, and boredom, against hackneyed terms and phrases, against cliched ways of seeing. Cliches were once fresh when readers first encountered them. If we are very good, our fresh perspectives may be cliches in the future.