Connecting The Dots Through Art

Following The Threads of Your Heart

Before The Fall, recently released on amazon video and other streaming services, is a gay version of Pride & Prejudice. It’s worth a watch.

Pride & Prejudice is a timeless love story written by Jane Austen over 200 years ago. It features two people from opposite sides of the social strata – Elizabeth Bennett from a common family and Fitzwilliam Darcy from a wealthy one – who fall in love despite first impressions of too much pride and prejudice they each see in the other.

Before the Fall transplants Jane Austen’s story to the Appalachian mountains of modern day rural Virginia. Elizabeth Bennett becomes Ben Bennett, a successful lawyer, who one day in court inadvertently insults a welder, Lee Darcy, an alcoholic charged with assault. Their dislike for each other is immediate. Through a series of events that can only happen in a small town, these two men are repeatedly brought together, and they fall in love despite first impressions of too much pride and prejudice they each see in the other.

Before the Fall made me wonder what the original Pride & Prejudice story was all about. I never read Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I learned that it’s one of the most successful love stories in literature (selling over 20 million copies since it was published 200 years ago and has never been out of print).

So I watched a film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice this past weekend, with Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen. Of course, this one is a grand BBC production. The film sets are amazing. It’s definitely a big production unlike the Before The Fall (an independent film). But you know what, each movie has its own magic.

I loved both of these films so much that I’m now reading the actual Pride & Prejudice novel — well at least the annotated version of it by Shawn Coyne of Story Grid fame. Shawn Coyne is a book editor of over 25 years who wrote a book about why stories work or don’t work.

You might be wondering by now what this blog post is all about?

I’m not really sure, but I think it goes back to this post that I wrote a year ago about finding what you really want to do where I quoted Joseph Campbell:

Reading what you want, and having one book lead to the next, is the way I found my discipline. I’ve suggested this to many of my students. When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous. Whereas the way these things are taught normally in college and schools is a sampler of what this one wrote and that one wrote and you’re asked to be more interested in the date of the publication of Keat’s sonnets than in what’s in them.

And that is what is happening right now. I’m following the threads of what interests me. I watched Before the Fall, which led me to watching Pride & Prejudice, which led me to reading the actual Pride and Prejudice book by Jane Austen, as annotated by Shawn Coyne. Coyne is a work colleague of one of my influences, Steven Pressfield, whom I quote a lot in this blog.

It’s amazing how this circular and organic journey, map out the interests that exist in my heart, which I’m still trying to understand.

All of these things point to my interests in stories: how they move people, how they are structured, and how to actually create them. And this shows up in my artwork. A Million Suns is a story. I’m trying to combine storytelling in the way a novel does it, but I want to do it using fine art pictures (only). I’m still wrestling with how to do this. I think this organic way that I keep bumping into things, reminding me that storytelling is my path, is marvelous. Reading the annotated Pride and Prejudice book might help in some way.

What about you? How have you been following the threads of your heart?