Friday, July 06, 2007

The "L" Word

Photo: Bernie Mac

I really enjoy Tavis Smiley. It comes on late at night on PBS. The other night Tavis had Bernie Mac on his show. Tavis told Bernie that Bernie was the only entertainer who'd ever spoken of his work as being inspired by love. Bernie told the story of being a little boy and sitting on his mother's lap. His mother was dying, of cancer, I think. Bernie asked his mother why she was crying. Then, Bernie said, Bill Cosby came on The Ed Sullivan Show. As Cosby did his act, Bernie's mother began to laugh. Her laughter and her tears mixed together. Bernie said he told his mother then that he wanted to be a comedian because he wanted to find a way to stop his mother's tears.

I wanted to write this story down before I forgot it because, it seems to me, that writers have similar stories about why they write. I remember doing newsletters to entertain my friends. I wrote countless notes and letters to family and friends. I had pen-pals from France, India, Hong Kong, and South Africa. I enjoyed doing presentations in school, especially after I had my whole sixth grade class in stitches after telling a joke and then pretending to be afraid. My teacher had tears streaming down her face, she laughed so hard. It was a wonderful feeling to bring the class together in laughter. There were so many differences among us, race (schools had just been desegregated the year before) and physical maturity (some of us were still children while others were becoming adolescents).

The thought of giving pleasure to people through my writing was what drove me to create all the way through junior high school. I think the same is true now, although my reasons for writing are varied and complex. But, yes, love is definitely a big factor.

I feel that people are reluctant to reveal that their art comes out of love. The "L" word isn't very scholarly. And it's hard to write an argumentative essay about love. The "L" word is kind of a dirty word in academia because it doesn't fit into any theory of art whatsoever. Yet e.e. cummings, quoting Rilke in his famous "Non Lectures," said art comes from love.


emmapeelDallas said...

What a great story about Bernie Mac. I'm glad you wrote it because I wouldn't have known it otherwise. I think that all great work must come out of love, including/especially great art, and yet I know you're right, that the word is frowned upon in academia. As usual, I have much to think about after reading what you've written, and I enjoy that very much.


Erin said...

I greatly enjoyed this entry. It helps to remember where it all started. I'm thinking now about why I started writing, and my reasons too were centered around that "l" word!

Judith HeartSong said...


I hope you are well.:)


Cynthia said...

I don't think any form of creativity is possible without love, including the original creation. Another great entry that's got my mind going.



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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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