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On Creating, Time, and Mortality (Sorry)

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Yesterday I took a day off and a good friend and went to see the excellent exhibition at The British Museum that focuses on ancient Greece's influence on Rodin's work. The exhibition is fantastic in general and made me think about a lot of things. But one thing stood out, and that was Rodin's occupation with time.

Rodin has always been interested in ancient Greece. His early works, The Thinker and The Kiss, were inspired by the Greek sculptures and their uncanny resemblance to real, living bodies. But at some point, he began to think about the effects of time on the Greek works. What got me thinking was a quote that said something about the Greek works being shaped by time, as if time is part of the creation process. It got me thinking about "timeless" creations, and about what time does to our works. Will my writing be seen in the same light in 20 years? 50? 100? Will I see my writing in the same light in five years? In 20?

It also got me thinking about what Rodin was trying to accomplish with these fragments of sculptures. He made several sculptures that were "unfinished" on purpose—broken statues that look as though they've been created in Ancient Greece. Was he trying to defeat time? To conquer it? He was in his late forties when he started doing these kinds of works, and I can't help but think he was having a midlife crisis of sorts. I can't say anything about him because I haven't met him, but I wonder if he started to think about his mortality, and what will be left of his work after he's gone.

To me, this is so interesting because I've been thinking a lot about identity and legacy in the last few years. Even before my father died, I was trying to sort out my roles and identity as a mother, as a researcher, as a writer. I was trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and why. When my father died, it just threw everything into sharper relief. I thought a lot about what we leave behind us and how we are remembered. I thought about it at some point when I was reading about Jane Austin and how her letters and diary are kept in the museum, and I thought to myself how horrible it would be if someone kept my journals after I died and strangers would read them. It makes me cringe. Then again, I would be dead, so I probably would have stopped caring at that point.

The main character in the book I'm working on right now is having a bit of an identity crisis. In fact, it's kind of what the book is about. So I went to see this exhibition just because it seemed neat, but it got me thinking about the same topics my book is about. And that's neat and very handy. Now, I'm going to do some research so I can finally write this book.


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