Monday, August 8, 2011

Law 8: Devotion - Doing What is Necessary

Making Monday

I recently attended an exhibit of American war art. Many of the pieces were posters designed to encourage recruiting, production, and morale. In some, the propaganda was blatant. Others were more subtle. But what fascinated me most was the difference in the tone of the art for World War I and World War II.

The recruiting posters for WWI (like the one to the right) were buoyant and lively--almost cheeky. The life of a soldier would be a jolly lark and really impress the girls back home.

The WWII posters had a much more serious tone of solemn resolution. Perhaps it was only the shocking gap between the posters of the last generation and the gruesome reality of the meat grinder that was the front lines, but I'd like to think it was something more.

I spent some time studying the Norman Rockwell painting of a machine-gunner used for the production poster below. The soldier, whose shadowed face is barely visible, is beat-up, dirty, and tired. There's none of the romance or allure of old-style martial displays in the exquisitely detailed image. Just the quite heroism of an average Joe doing what has to be done.

It's overly morose (and a bit melodramatic) to say that making is an exercise of grim determination. And yet, there are times when it comes down to that.

There are times when things go wrong, when distractions intrude, when everything you try fails and the only thing that keeps you going is your determination to carry on.

And sometimes the work demands sacrifice--not, clearly on the scale of those who stand in harms way--but painful enough to doubt and look longingly at other pursuits.

The devotion of the makers begins with taking responsibility--your book isn't going to write itself--and it flourishes in the candle-light of the solemn resolution to accept the burdens and pay the price of seeing the project through.

Image: Bill Longshaw /

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