The desire for life to be art: Oscar Wilde and myself

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
Oscar Wilde

I sat in my kitchen this morning, attempting to write a novel. Wearing my sick boyfriend’s overcoat and trying not to wake him, I was typing in the dark with cereal as my roommate and then his girlfriend came up from the basement wrapped in a blanket and a pashmina respectively. Allow me to state this is not the hip, drugged out bohemian love shack it may seem, although why my roommates slept in the living room with no clothes I’m happy not to know. I’m just relieved that the third roommate was not here. It left me wishing that life was different, was more like art.

To elevate the mundane and the ugly into something beautiful and irreducible is a creative act extraordinaire. To do so with one’s life, the prime material of all art, requires genius and unflagging commitment. I’m not sure that I have enough of either either. But I admire Oscar Wilde’s philosophy, and his statement that he has “put all my genius into life” rings true when one studies his life. Literature became his words, visual art his clothes and house, just as his plays were mirrors of his mind. In many ways, he, and Byron, have become patron saints of mine, for their lives as well as their works. Dandies and writers and lovers, they were controversial touchstones for the societies of their time.

My boyfriend has woken up and I can now crawl back in bed to type (if I can over the YouTube videos and complaining he produces). Wilde never had to deal with this. Actually Bosie was rather a no-good handful. But if only life could imitate art, or art I like more

A selection of Wildean-isms to inspire one on a Sunday morning:

  • There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.
  • Life is too much important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.
  • It is only the unimaginative who ever invents. The true artist is known by the use he makes of what he annexes.
  • To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
  • Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
  • It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
  • I can believe anything as long as it is incredible.
  • I often take exercise. Why only yesterday I had breakfast in bed.
  • An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

Note: In his honor, I have made him a patron saint of this blog, in whose hallowed cyber halls his fellow worthies shall begin to join him.

Leave a Reply