Friday, November 19, 2010

What I mean when I say GOOD.

William Hunt & Edward Hughes Lady of Shalott
I went to see Morning Glory with my parents and husband this weekend, and it was great. Harrison Ford makes a fabulous curmudgeon, and Rachel McAdams is a wonderfully naive and perky go-getter. And of course I can't say no to Jeff Goldblum. For a drama, Morning Glory was punctuated with the perfect number of laugh-out-loud moments (none of which depended upon a gratuitous pot-smoking scene thank goodness), and I walked out of the theater feeling like I wanted to go back in and see it again.

But I also walked out of the theater feeling like I needed to write, and wishing I'd remembered to bring my purse with its ever-ready notebook to dive back into my current project. All I could think about was getting back to my book. And in my opinion, this is the critical element of what makes any movie, any book, any song, GOOD. For me, it isn't about story, or plot, or the nit-picking of lyrics. It isn't about what actors are in the film. It's about walking out of the theater with the compulsion to create!

 Spring by Pierre August Cot
Tolkien talks about sub-creation in his essay "On Fairy Stories" where he suggests that sub-creation is a natural compulsion spawned of our own original creation. God created us in his image, and clearly a large part of his image was the compulsion to create, which we inherited and translated into art, writing, imagination, Fantasy. Let me quote you the quote*:
"Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker" ( page 75).
So, the art, music, literature that draws this part of us out, puts us back in touch with that compulsion--there is nothing better than that. And certainly the fact that it reaches us there is the most important element, the most magical element. I'm not sure we can ask for anything more from any kind of art than that. I'm not sure that there is more to want.

So, what movies, books, songs, paintings inspire you? What is your definition of GOOD? I've included some of mine in this post. 

Drops of Jupiter by Train

I don't even dare to start listing books and movies, or I'll never stop, but I think it goes without saying how much I enjoy the original Star Wars trilogy in film, and Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

*Source: Tolkien, J.R.R. "On Fairy Stories." The Tolkien Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966. 33-99.


  1. Ooo, I like your definition of "good!" And I LOVE Train!

  2. Love the Tolkien quote
    I still need to read The Blue Sword (I own it)

    brief list of good

    Temple of Love by Sisters of Mercy
    art by Frank Frazetta and Arnold Friberg
    Music by Nightwish
    Lloyd Alexander
    Musashi's Book of Five Rings

  3. GOOD is something that makes me think and feel without ever manipulating me. I think our GOODs are similar, because the things which make me think and feel are indeed the things which inspire me to write.

  4. THAT SONG. I think that defines it for me. And you're absolutely right, all the good movies make me want to create.

    Great post!

  5. Amazing! I've never thought of movies and such that way, but that is so true. I remember totally geeking out at the genius of the new Star Trek for an half an hour. Just yelling about how great that movie was to my hubby for a solid thirty minutes. Yes, yelling. It was amazing because the way it was written created a way for them to spawn a whole new series. And I wanted to write right then!

  6. Brilliant post! And I always love a Tolkien quote.

  7. I happen to have that a print of "Spring." It was sort of strange to see it on your blog!

    I really want to see Morning Glory. I'm glad to see your positive review. I love when I leave a movie and want to write. Or when I read something, and want to write. Harry Potter books always did that to me; so did the movie "Stranger than Fiction." And almost anything connected to Alfred Hitchcock.


Comments are Love!

(Nota Bene: During #NAMEthatBUTT season, all comments are moderated and your guesses are hidden until after the butt is revealed!)