I’ve been poring over the work of Christine Sun Kim, who works with sound as a symbol and subject, but often without using it as a medium. Her drawings especially are a lovely and evocative examination of assumptions we have about things like music and notation.
I’d hazard a guess that her approach is so visual because Kim is deaf.
Most things have an inherent identity. They’re what they need to be and a result of the processes that brought them into being. This is just as true of a tree or a river as a book or music video.
Imagining the thing you’re experiencing as less than some Platonic ideal is missing the point. Whether it’s bad or good is similarly unnecessary. We’re often ignorant of the processes that went into making—or growing, if you like—something, and talk about it as if it should be something more, or better, or bigger.
I’m not saying all judgment or criticism is off-base. Having high standards is helpful, certainly in our own work. But we spend much time bashing and heaping scorn, and sometimes it’s simply irrelevant. Because many times the reason something is not our ideal is that it wasn’t meant to be. The processes of its making required it to be so.
This may seem vague. Trying to make a universal out of a specific is, well, fraught with fuzziness, and it’s hard to be clear. Let things be what they are, as much as you can. This lets you be kind to your own work when you want to throw it in the trash, and to other things when you want to spend your precious time holding it up against an ideal. Because perhaps it was never meant to, nor was trying to be so.