Writer’s Desk: See and Tell, Don’t Define


Legendary roots record producer T. Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou? among many many others) was on Rick Rubin and Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Broken Record recently. During a sprawling conversation about music, recording, and the genesis of art, Burnett mused on the following:

All really that artists do is, we’re going down a road and we mark things. We say, ‘At this day I was at this place and I saw this thing and it was beautiful. So I’m going to mark this so that maybe you don’t miss it when you’re going by.’ That’s the real journey of an artist.

He also noted:

Once you define a thing, you lose it.

So there you have it. Write about what you see. Describe a beautiful thing so that it is not forgotten.

But whatever you do, don’t try and explain it.