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“It was a pleasure to burn…”

March 22nd, 2009 by Colin Rafferty

The potential for destruction is what gives creation meaning

The potential for destruction gives creation meaning

…so begins Ray Bradbury’s famous novel Farenheit 451; does anyone have to read that in high school anymore?  I always loved that opening line, not for its comment on censorship but for its recognition of the pleasures of destruction.  Maybe it’s just the Boy Scout I used to be, but setting things on fire, or breaking glass, or watching a building implode–it’s amazing, a strange kind of potential energy converted to action.

We normally think of art as an act of creation–paint applied carefully to canvas, ink put down as letters on the page, the scultpture liberated from the block of marble–but destruction as art can be just as powerful.  Richard Serra flinging molten lead at a wall; Robert Rauschenberg erasing a Willem De Kooning drawing and exhibiting the blank paper, the ghostly traces of the drawing barely visible; Yoko Ono’s early piece in which the audience, wielding scissors, cut away her clothes.

So let’s talk destruction tomorrow night.  Let’s make a mess and see what comes of it.

Bring a pair of scissors.

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