What is Our Power? – Notes from a time of writing trash #3
A better world isn’t always created by taking the safest journey. Or the more agreeable journey. So why keep myself restricted, protected, enshrouded as an artist, even as a person?
In a truly better world for ourselves- a freer world we’d want to be in – a world where we can see opportunity and we actually take it – where we embrace the fullest expression of ourselves – we’re even more alive. This world already exists (especially here in this place). Whether we live that truth or not. So, why not?
There’s the risk of course. And the fear. But why are the risk and the fear really so bad? Objectively, they aren’t. I could come up with some excuses, and also with legitimate reasons, for allowing the fear to halt this whole process. But are those good enough for me today? And what if we choose to simply ignore all of that? Even fully disidentify with it? We could. Separate the fear from ourselves, objectify it, look upon it with a bird’s eye view, own it rather than allowing it to own us. And so transforming the sense of risk. Can true freedom even happen, without risk? There needs to be some baseline of stability, a foundation from which to build. Yet how could we feel optimally alive – so alive, without the contrast of a prior fall, or at least the prospect of peril? As we have earned this aliveness precisely by conquering fear. Which is only the fear we inherited – others’ fear! Not even ours to begin with. So, we can begin to give that back.
I speak from my own “successes” and also my “failures,” because I want to be proud of them both the same, because they have fed one another, and because the total fullness of life is upon us for the taking. And I have been the type of creator to leap off of metaphorical cliffs. I am no stranger to that type of risk, the experiment. At times, even fully allowed for the judgement of certain peers who would rather we corral and contain ourselves into one coherent message. Yet, all this without an underlying willingness to get past myself and honor all of it, and be truly free. But that closet is full now, so full. Why? I hardly want to know because that feels like a detour — on a day-to-day basis I just want to do.
Do for today, like yesterday and all this other stuff doesn’t even exist. It’s survival. Right? Do my job in the straight and narrow, linear professional world, and the artist in that moment doesn’t exist. Be the romantic in one project, a punk in the next, and the twain never meet. But why can’t I embrace the whole?
Why compartmentalize all of this incredible existence? Why live for poetry, and then pretend to be a five-paragraph essay? What do I feel I need to represent, that would disallow the artist? Do I think that I’ll die and life will be over if I dare to take on all that I could possibly give? It’s some type of irrationality, a purgatorial prison. But it absolutely will be temporary and I am going to kill it off. I am going to kill this character, this persona who won’t let me have all that I am destined to be. If I can not do it, bring these ideas to light, then who else can? They are out there, and the ideas may not wait for me. And the others like me too, afraid to the point of paralysis? They are out there also, I know. We’re never the only one. Right? So, what are we doing?
What is going on today that makes some of us who have so much to say, want to hide? Like this part is ok but this part is not. Elevate this, but disown that. It doesn’t matter. Forget all of that. All the dumb stuff that there is, out there, and what are we worried about? Are we afraid to look stupid? To disappoint? Any stupider and more disappointing than the stupidest most disappointing junk that is already happening all around us? What do we imagine we will lose? How can that seem so much more than, what we will certainly gain? Who is going to punish us? But then, who will reward us? To those who would leave us just for having an imagination, just for having the daring – are they even good enough for us? Perhaps not. That has got to be okay. Are we here on this planet just only for them? Are we? Our imagination is our power. This manifests our best possible world. There are more like me out there. We have our day jobs. We have our lives. We keep our act together. Our… act. But deep inside we know we can do something else too, perhaps something we are even better at.
Why limit ourselves? What if, creatively, we had no limits? What would we do? What if we woke up today and we had a brand new life, and we started over from scratch? Who would we allow ourselves to become?
July 6, 2022
the child and the adult
Life is an adventure – remember?
A tea kettle whistling – someone else is up at 5:53 am too. A neighbor.
I’ve had a writer’s block and an artist’s block at the same time – I don’t remember the last time that happened.
I remember when I could claim that this never happened. I didn’t really believe in being blocked. And maybe that’s still true.
Or maybe I just didn’t believe in it because it hadn’t happened to me, which is how so many ill-informed beliefs are born.
Or maybe when you have little to no responsibilities in life, it’s easy to be unblocked. Adventure slips through your fingers.
I simply, chose other things to happen.
I skim through some old stuff. What was I even going on about? What was I doing? Was it good? Which direction now?
Who is even reading this? Why do I create a public stage, broadcast a public channel in which to hide?
Suffering gets boring. How much of it is worth expressing?
I don’t regret recording it.
Paralysis, though – that’s an empty space – but something happens in that.
In the space of doing nothing.
A mystery to us. It doesn’t always seem worth examining.
This mystery wasn’t, isn’t.
Consciousness needed to shift. Without analysis or interrogation.
I take out my pen, for something that can’t be erased. I prefer the hand just a little bit childlike sometimes.
Like what’s always come most naturally – a style mostly resisted.
What was wrong with that?
Why resist anything? Why resist anything?
It’s not always worth it to be so adult. What is beyond adult?
The struggle is too adult.
But artists aren’t childish, like they insinuate.
Art is ageless. Period.
I watched a really good show and was curious about the reviews, so I looked them up. I read a surprisingly bad review. This was after recently reading a bad review of a particular style of art, the whole lot of it comprehensively dismissed.
It occurs to me that sometimes a bad review just comes from a poor imagination.
And/or conspicuous personal prejudices on the border of philistinism.
what keeps me up at night #4
Charcoal all over the place… something keeps me from painting it. I don’t like nights anymore. Falling asleep with all the lights on, and in all my clothes, too early. Sometimes 8:30. I have nothing to be awake for. I could write but it isn’t satisfying. Not at night. Not anymore.
It used to be so magical. Always. I loved it.
3 am. I wake up. I get out of my work clothes finally. I turn off all the lights. And I know why I can’t get back to sleep. And I know why I don’t like nights. Any of them.
Tell Every Story
It’s not the job of artists to create only uplifting or lighthearted work that makes everybody feel good. That can be part of the job. But the primary job is to tell the truth. Some kind of aspect of the truth. Sometimes the truth is something joyful, elating, comical, optimistic, inspirational. But the truth can also be brutal. Life can be incredibly brutal sometimes. And the worst of it, is when we are made to feel that our less palatable reactions to such brutalities should be any different than what they are.
There is a time and a place to look on the bright side. Or to “act as if.” But the artist is mirroring. Reflecting all of it. Not just the one artist, but all artists. Art is just consciousness. And its patterns. And we will never be done with that. Consciousness is always evolving. Sometimes art needs to show us what we already have and know, cast in a new light. Sometimes it needs to show us what we can’t see. What we would rather ignore. Art can show up for that. It won’t always make the artist look good. It won’t always make the artist look for that moment “enlightened,” at least not in the mainstream understanding of that word. But this is the whole point of art — to bring things to light. To expand what is seen. Whether that is dark, playful, ironic, simple, etc. But art is not here simply to make us feel better. Nor does art need to act like a winner. Art doesn’t need to project a million dollar smile.
To assert that some emotions and experiences are worthy of attention but disregard or insult the existence of others is to fail to recognize the total abundance of all that is, the total fullness of life. So it’s not about just telling people what they want to hear, or only showing them what they want to see. It’s not about what we think should be said or done to “make the world a better place” in the common understanding. It’s about getting all of it down, whatever is speaking to us, and be willing to be that honest. Because what makes the world is a better place is also when honesty and integrity are valued and expressed and held. The result of honesty and integrity should not be to run. It should be to come closer.
A world that just only agrees with you all the time, that’s a world in which no one grows. That would be a very stale world, a world in which we stagnate. Art is capable of appreciating all of it. What we cherish, and what pains us.
Hackneyed optimism and hope — trite, dismissive, insincere, and even inappropriate as they often are — help no one.
The purpose of art #2
Don’t give the world MORE of what it already has.
GIVE IT what it DOESN’T HAVE.
The purpose of art
We need to get unlost
i’m drinking a tangerine Italian soda at 11:20 at night. the apartment is messier than usual. it doesn’t matter. there’s no good enough reason to be motivated to mind. it’s been one of those days. it’s gloomy out. nothing better to do than create things. supplies scattered around everywhere. computers. books. papers. i live here. fully live here. nobody is in my way. but i kind of wish there was.
there are those who would have you believe that doing this sort of thing makes you selfish. selfish to spend so much time on art, like you’re so important. selfish to write about yourself. no, selfish to not be writing about somebody else. talking about somebody else. existing as if you value everything else more so than what is inside you.
as if every other activity out there isn’t selfish. as if watching tv isn’t selfish. the person who assigns worth to something is yourself. the person who decides something isn’t worthy is you. but it feels like it’s everyone else who decides. decides that their meaningless and half-assed pursuits are somehow okay but yours isn’t.
am i supposed to just let the ideas die? what happened to the life of the mind. i literally have nothing better to do. i could make more money and work myself to death but i already have one job and i like it. i just don’t watch tv. i don’t want to. it’s boring. there i said it. it’s fucking boring. except when there’s company. when there’s company, it’s entertaining and enjoyable. that’s how i feel about it. maybe if i really loved alone time with my tv, i’d be too busy for art. it’s practically sacrilegious to say that out loud. i wouldn’t want tv gone forever. it’s just not what every person who exists on this planet is here to do with their time.
making art is not selfish and self-centered just by default. art is for others. as much as for the self, maybe more so. art is made with audience in mind. with communication in mind, however abstract. i use myself but i am not writing to me. I am writing to them. i am writing to you. i am writing for you. when i write, it is you i am thinking of. art is made because humanity desires it. humanity needs it. but i fail. like anyone i fail. so i keep doing it. i show up to fail. i hope the next time i will get it right. it takes a lifetime. but that’s okay. art is made to make the world a better place. a richer, more beautiful and more honest place. imagine a world entirely devoid of art. seriously.
you can be a megalomanic doing any sort of occupation in life. not just art. look at the world’s wealthiest people and how we admire them and excuse their flaws. and then look at poets. it’s REALLY damn hard to be an egotistical poet. maybe for a short time, but it likely wouldn’t be sustainable. poetry is humbling. nobody cares, at least in real life. “nobody” as in, society at large. in most cases it doesn’t pay because the world does not respect you enough to think that you deserve it. it’s even harder to please a crowd than in music, or visual art also. but these are all tricky occupations. you do it because you want to and you feel it is needed. you need it. others need it too and you know it. even if it doesn’t always seem like it, others need it.
you show up as your inadequate self. you may never quite match that pre-filled idea that someone else hopes, and you are passed up for better investments. you are rejected over and over, and in so many nuanced ways. and you show up.
you know that the rest sucks even more. the alternative fucking sucks. so you get up and you start again.
The House of Mystery
“They took her baby away.”
He told me “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy” was about an acquaintance of Leonard Cohen’s; an early hippie who was the daughter of someone important. “And she went crazy.”
“She was from an important family, her father was a senator or something like that. I think they didn’t want her to be the daughter who had an illegitimate child. They took her baby away, and she killed herself. She was in hospitals, and she blew her brains out.”
-“That’s horrific,” I said.
“The mental hospital, that’s the ‘house of mystery’ I think.”
-“Hm. Well I think the reason it’s so relatable, is because we all have that place, inside of ourselves. A house of mystery.”
“A place that no one wants to visit?”
-But artists do. Art visits. That’s what artists are good for. That’s why people like Leonard Cohen are important. That’s why art is important.”
Everyone loves Nancy now.
Everyone cries for her. Now we understand, Nancy
And we are sorry.