High Fives and Neil Young for the Road: Lynda Barry’s "Writing the Unthinkable" as an Aesthetic Experience

By Elaine Claire Villacorta.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 18, 2014 $US5.00

An ode of epic proportions to a sickly mutt who responded extraordinarily to Neil Young’s album “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” was shelved since the day he was put to sleep. To kick-start my creativity, I reminisced about my dog’s rare ability to empathize with human emotions and connect with music. With the aid of cartoonist Lynda Barry’s creative method, “Writing the Unthinkable,” I underwent a series of handwriting exercises, where the unexpected journey of producing words entailed a desired image to pull the creator in like a pull-toy. Once the image (a.k.a. the dog and the album’s 7 tracks) is determined, the writing takes form. The subsequent forms of the comic strips are currently works-in-progress. In this paper, I shall document and assess this artistic experience, comparing and contrasting it with John Dewey’s ideas on how “doing and undergoing” art becomes an aesthetic experience for both the creator and the beholder. Feedback opens up discussion on whether my strips are a legitimate work of art or artistic expression, and how the experience of Young's music translates into the work. Langer asserted that music has a stand-in for meaning, which is important, as its dynamism gives way to a pattern of sentience which language itself cannot convey.

Keywords: Text, Comics, Music, Neil Young, Lynda Barry, John Dewey, Creative Process, Aesthetic Experience

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 3, June 2014, pp.83-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 18, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 883.080KB)).

Elaine Claire Villacorta

Postgraduate Student, Art Theory and Criticism, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Manila, Philippines