Marginalia: Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats

I recently finished reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (book review to come, stay tuned). But a few moments in the book really stood out, so I pulled them from the pages to share with you now.

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art…Make it on the good days too…While you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.” pg. 654

I found this so inspiring. It’s completely true. When everything feels like it is going wrong, being creative and continuing to push forward is so important but can come off as anything but intuitive. And it’s important not just to create, but to create in a way that is true to YOU.


Later in The View from the Cheap Seats, which is a collection of essays, speeches, and general reflections, Neil writes about the National Portrait Gallery in London.

“It gives us context. It is our way of describing ourselves and our past to ourselves, our way of interrogating and explaining and exploring who we are, inspecting our roots in a way that is more than us looking at the places from which we come. There is landscape, and there is portrait, after all.” pg. 677

What a beautiful way to think about our lives and how we come to understand them. The paintings of kings, of commoners, of painters themselves are the fabric of who we are and how we see ourselves. They aren’t just tools for knowing (or coming close to knowing) what a queen looked like – they show us how we perceived queens, how queens were meant to be perceived (which are two different things), and the implications of those perceptions. I have been to a lot of museums and galleries, but I will never look at art the same way again.


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