An update from our seventh Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett
A summary of the workshop held on Saturday May 29, plus some of the output published below
Excess: more than necessary—exaggeration, extravagance, exuberance, abundance, unnecessary, overload, overkill, surplus, luxuriance, improvisation, unrestraint, ridiculous
To kick off this week's workshop, we began with four artworks—Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Dulle Griet, Peter Paul Rubens' The Garden of Love, Jackson Pollock's Convergence, and the Sistene Chapel—all of which illustrated, in one way or another, the theme of excess. While we technically defined "excess" as "more than necessary," the purpose of this workshop was to show how sometimes excess is necessary in order to create the feeling of being overwhelmed or overpowered or repulsed, an idea perhaps best encapsulated in the work of contemporary Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. We looked at a few of his hyperrealistic, larger than life works in order to demonstrate how something almost "too real" becomes grotesque. Following our discussion of Mueck, we looked at examples of Baroque architecture, a style associated with ornamental excess as is the case with St Peter's Basilica and La Sagrada Familia. We also discussed a piece of Postmodern architecture, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, a "non-functional" building more characteristic of a dream or a work of science fiction than reality. We then discussed excess in music, something popularized in the Rock n' Roll music of the 70's and 80's (think Kiss, David Bowie, and Queen), and best exemplified by Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," which we listened to. The last section of the Writing Workshop were devoted to examples of excess in writing as we looked at an excerpt from Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (exaggeration), Lewis Carroll's The Jabberwocky (pleasure in its own silly sound making), and, finally, an excerpt from Cormac McCarthy (functional resistance to grammar, repetition of the word "and").
To watch a video of the instruction in full, click here.
The Challenge: Write as much as you can, as fast you can, without worrying about making sense; write excessively.
The Participants: Emma, Simran, Svitra, Liam, Sena, Zhilin, Noa, Georgia, Helen, Aditi, Sinan, Olivia, Harine, Alice, Julia, Audrey, Josh, Isolde, Samantha
Emma Hoff, 9
The ceiling hates me because it is cracked and imperfect and unloved and unfixed and nobody pays attention to it anyways, because they don’t care. Well, I care, but that doesn’t really matter because it hates me the most because I am loved and my life is good and I am not cracked or broken or crumbling and as far as I know, I will not fall and squash somebody and I can move around and I play sports and I write and I read and I draw and I play, but the ceiling isn’t able to do any of that because it is inanimate and cannot move. And I like looking at things, but I think I understand how boring it would be to see the same thing over and over again, my family walking down the hallway, maybe carrying something, maybe stomping, frowning, happy, sad. If the ceiling is inanimate, do you think it can see things? If it can’t it still somehow hates me, which seems impossible, but for now, I’ll say it’s possible and stop the fight and also the confusion, because you probably can’t understand a thing I’m saying, but that might be okay.
How Olive Hendrix Broke Her Leg
Georgia Marshall, 12
Aditi Nair, 13
Boom! Crash! Bam! It quickly struck the air, disturbing the flying birds, the peaceful clouds, and the still atmosphere– crashing and ripping through the surface of what was once a blue planet, a place where people lived in harmony. Plumes of dead black smoke circled the atmosphere, flowing into the lungs of millions of people, leaving them congested and stuck. The grass was dyed black and brown, exuding a smell reminiscent of a completely burnt marshmallow. Mobs of children screamed and cried, invading the invisible bubble that each person had– shaking the weak and broken ground. Buildings were torn from their roots, slammed into each other, and were sliced in half. Boulders and glass shards hovered in the air, getting into the eyes of all the spectators. Blind and bruised, they ran to their cars and homes, but those were also gone, destroyed, or never existed. Deadly gases of carbon monoxide covered the globe. Humanity extinct, families gone, and the planet that was once called home left in ruins.