I’ve been thinking a bit about manifestos lately, about declarations that transcend time, create energy and fuel dreams. While manifestos are often really specific to a situation, there’s a timelessness to the writing that really speaks to me — which is why great ones endure. I’ve been thinking about it in terms of myself — I’ve been asked lately, in more than a few different avenues of my life, to define what’s important and true for me. I’m still thinking about it, pulling my thoughts together, but of course I had to dig up a few of the declarations that made an impact on me:
RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO
A very long time ago I was a punk, and I was a girl, and when those two things came together in the form of the Riot Grrrl movement, it was really amazing. I would need a whole memoir (or maybe a film screenplay or three) to really go into “my life and Riot Grrrl” but it would be adequate enough to say that I wouldn’t be who I am today without this particular music-loving version of the feminist movement. I still remember reading it in college and becoming SO EXCITED, the tingling in my stomach when I was reading something that articulated all these inchaote thoughts and feelings into one cohesive statement. YOU ARE NOT ALONE is often one of the most valuable feelings to get from reading; a beautiful manifesto gives that, and gives inspiration to the possibilities that can arise out of coming together.
BRUCE MAU’S INCOMPLETE MANIFESTO FOR GROWTH
If the Riot Grrrl manifesto had the most impact on me as a girl, but I think Bruce Mau’s is my favorite creative-oriented one of all time. Architects and designers love it because Mau’s one of their tribe, and a particularly brilliant member at that; I may not be either an architect or a designer, but I find it applicable as a writer for its emphasis on process, change and the importance of mischief, play and mistakes. Read it: it’s ripe for thinking.
STYLE STATEMENT: A MANIFESTO OF STYLE
Here’s where I reveal my inner Oprahness and my fashion-ness as well. But this manifesto about fashion and style had a big impact on how I shopped, spent and chose clothing, and it would be kind of dishonest not to include it in a list of manifestos that have changed my life, thinking or behavior in some way. (The PDF download of it has the fuller, more articulate explanation behind each point; I like it better.) This is not a style manifesto that told you what was “in” or “out,” or that pink was the new navy, or anything like that. It advocated clarity, thoughtfulness and discernment when it came to matters of fashion and style, and acknowledged the impact of wardrobe and dress on life in ways that aren’t normally addressed in most fashion writing. And it got me to stop buying so much and radically clean out my closet! Some of its tenets — “Commit to quality and it will commit to you” — found applications not just in my closet, but in my personal life. Closets, boyfriends — if a manifesto can effect change in those areas of life, you know it’s working on some level!
This is actually a book by business and marketing guru Seth Godin, and it’s a curious book to read as an artist and writer. But here’s a fun secret: many business books are actually obsessed with growth and self-development, because being an entrepreneur is actually a very creative act at the core of its word. Linchpin was thought-provoking because it expands the idea of art and what artists do — well, perhaps distills it down may be a better way of putting it — and what lingers for me from reading it was the idea of “shipping,” which is Godin’s way of saying relentlessly putting out work as an act of integrity, and the idea of art as a gift you give to the word, which helped solidified my decision to offer any short stories I do on this site.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S 10-POINT MANIFESTO FOR APPRENTICES
Here it is:
1. An honest ego in a healthy body.
2. An eye to see nature
3. A heart to feel nature
4. Courage to follow nature
5. The sense of proportion (humor)
6. Appreciation of work as idea and idea as work
7. Fertility of imagination
8. Capacity for faith and rebellion
9. Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance
10. Instinctive cooperation
Short, but it’s dense with ideas and conviction. Reading it again and again, it inspires a new thought or inspiration — which is what the best manifestos do, right?
Of course, this has got me thinking of my own manifesto: what I’d put in it, what I’d leave out, what I’d address. More to come on that later, but I’m dwelling on freedom, white space, and mystery and magic: a combination of the High Priestess card for Tarot, the art direction of Fabien Baron and the imagination of Angela Carter. And some riot grrrl, of course. Manifestos: quick to read, long to think over.