245. Like Paving Stones

I read on a webpage from Brooklyn Academy that:

Daniel Defoe was a prolific writer (over 370 known publications) who could–and would–turn his hand to almost any topic; he has been called one of the greatest journalists and the father of journalism. To many of his contemporaries, he was a man who sold his pen to the political party in office and so lacking integrity …

He was an outsider, being a Dissenter or Puritan, the son of a butcher, and a suspected government spy (this suspicion was confirmed in the nineteenth century) …

For nearly seventy-five years, Defoe’s reputation as a writer was in decline. But from 1780 to 1830, a succession of biographies and editions of his works was published, and his literary star began to rise. As perceptive a critic as Coleridge appreciated his artistry. But Sir Walter Scott, though appreciative, raised the objection that Defoe lacked conscious artistry, “Defoe seems to have written too rapidly to pay the least attention to his circumstances; the incidents are huddled together like paving-stones discharged from a cart, and as little connection between the one and the other.”

This objection continues to be raised.


It’s funny – because I never knew much about the author of Robinson Crusoe, Mr. Defoe. However, this judgement seems to echo my life a bit – I’m also a man who has tried my hand at a great many things, and not really ending up being expert at any of them. (And that is my own judgement.)

As for integrity, I’m not sure. It went relatively well with Big Photographer Client today, although I still feel I’m selling out in a great many ways when doing work for him. Selling myself too cheaply. Not honoring my skills and experience by letting him dictate most of the marketing material because he thinks he knows best. Etc.

But he pays the bills and we’ve been through all this and I’ve a responsibility to my family as well.

So no jumping ship until I can see another shore, or another ship.

And I’m too old to care about being called an “artist” anymore. So as long as I keep enough of my integrity I’m willing to make a lot of compromises.

So maybe I’m not like Defoe, or maybe I am but in a good way, and other people don’t understand him.

Frankly, I don’t understand him very  much, so I should only use this thought  about similarities as a viewpoint on my own life – and on this past author’s life. As inspiration to see something that wasn’t seen before. And see the nuances, too.

But not pretend that I’ve found the truth about anything. The truth is seldom contained in a single viewpoint. Or on a single stone.