Previous: Everything Wrong with Turtles All the Way Down
Next: We’re Here Because… Something Broke



View count:129,617
Last sync:2024-06-14 08:45


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "A Secret about Art." YouTube, uploaded by vlogbrothers, 7 May 2024,
MLA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2024)
APA Full: vlogbrothers. (2024, May 7). A Secret about Art [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (vlogbrothers, 2024)
Chicago Full: vlogbrothers, "A Secret about Art.", May 7, 2024, YouTube, 04:01,
In which John discusses making art and the response so far to the Turtles All the Way Down movie, which is streaming on Max now. Thanks to everyone who has brought their deepest selves to it.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
Learn more about our project to help Partners in Health radically reduce maternal mortality in Sierra Leone:
If you're able to donate $2,000 or more to this effort, please join our matching fund:
If you're in Canada, you can donate here:
I mean, this is precisely the kind of construction project I don't excel at.  Good morning, Hank.

It's Tuesday. Did you ever know that you're my hero?  I wake up every morning with that song in my head.

And scene.  So when you go to like a movie premiere or whatever, they have  these things called step and repeats. And this is like the version  of the step and repeat we got for the Indianapolis premiere of  Turtles All the Way Down. But it didn't arrive in time, so I thought I  would construct it today for this video.

Now I feel like a red carpet reporter  at the jankiest movie premiere ever. How does it feel that despite a  minuscule marketing budget, your movie has reached so many people?  I'm just thrilled with the response to the movie so far. It's incredible.  And a reminder that even if you don't have amazing billboards  in Times Square, Nerdfighteria will make you amazing billboards in  Times Square.

In the end, word of mouth is all that matters when it  comes to a movie. Wait, are you me? Kinda.

It's complicated. Actually,  that's one of the subjects of Turtles All the Way Down.  Let's get a check on the weather. It's not great.

Anyway, Nerdfighteria  is the best, whether fighting tuberculosis or supporting an infinite collection  of turtles that represent doubt and consciousness. Hold on, I think it's  time to transition to a regular video. So, Hank, here's a secret about art  you probably already know.

When you're making something,  you have to bring your whole self to it. For me, that's the hardest part  of the job, trying to get to those weighed down abstract places  within me and find some expression for them. It's one thing, though,  when you're writing a book by yourself and you're the only person who has  to do that.

When you're making a movie, you’re asking like a hundred  people to do that together. Obviously, the directors and actors  have to dive into their deepest selves, but so do the producers and writers  and production designers and makeup artists. Like, I remember my  first day on set having a conversation with the makeup department about  Aza’s callus.

And in that conversation, I realized not only had they read  the book, they had carefully considered how to make the book visible without  making it sensationalized. But of course, that’s only half the thing,  or maybe even less than half the whole thing. For starters,  sometimes you pour your whole self into something and it's still not great.  As W.

H. Auden famously noted, “All bad poetry is sincere.”  But more importantly, when it comes to art, you must make stuff with all  the generosity and openness you can muster, but you are still wholly  dependent upon a reader or viewer or listener bringing their generosity  and openness to the work. I've said it before, but a generous  reader can make a good book great, and an ungenerous reader can  make a great book terrible.

I think about this sometimes in the context  of visual art. Like, there are some paintings I can easily bring  my whole self to. Like that Raymond Pettibon spiral painting  that's prominently featured in Turtles All the Way Down.  I can hardly look away from it when I'm in its presence.

And it's kind of  baffling to me when some people just walk right past it without feeling  anything, except that I likely have just walked right past some work of  art that they deeply connect with. When you make art, you have to  make it as a gift. But the wildest thing about it to me is that the person  receiving that gift has to give you a gift in return, the gift of their  generous, open attention.

And what means so much to me is how many  people, both in Nerdfighteria and outside of it, have opened up their  deepest selves to the Turtles All the Way Down movie. The audience  has to commingle their own unique experiences and perspectives  with the work. And that's when the magic happens.

That's when the  thing becomes greater than either of us ever could have made alone.  So to everyone who's seen themselves in Aza, or seen  themselves in Daisy or Davis or Aza's mom, thank you. Thank you  for giving us that gift. And thank you for making of our little movie  something that we could never make without you.

Hank, I'll see you  on Friday. I mean, I wish I could tell you how many hours went into that  step and repeat gag and that it's not. It's not even that good of a bit.  You know, like, you pour yourself into something and sometimes it works.  Sometimes you get the Turtles All the Way Down movie.

Other times  you get the step and repeat. And, you know, that's art.