I cannot believe it's been over a year. I'm sorry. |
I think where I left off I was talking about our movie. We just showed at our fifth festival, although now it has screened in 10 different venues. I'm "writing" at the moment something new, but that's slow going.
But I am very slow lately. There's still that part of me that's GO-GO-GO, my nervousness, that is. I have gotten very good at ignoring it. But I still have that fear of wanting to accomplish so much but doing so little. But my attitude is I would rather leave this planet having made a very small amount of truly excellent work instead of many many mediocre things. Besides, no one needs any more art. There's too much of it.
Spent the weekend at my mom's just asking her questions about our family history and seeing photographs of my ancestors--all five generations worth. When I learn about history I look for stories. It personalizes it. It brings history to life. And the stories I was told were still general, but drew a picture of a very different life: A life of physical labor, severe simplicity, and PURPOSE. Purpose, meaning, every action meant something profound. For example: we procreate to tend the farm, we farm so we can eat, we work so we can live. Very interesting.
Fast forward to 2019. I have been, for the past year I'd say, extremely critical of the art world (my trade), or more specifically, the culture of that world. But also more broadly, *This* culture (our society). And just thinking about privilege in very broad terms. Meaning: what does it mean to enjoy this "way of life"? What does it mean to be of a certain class (like living in a major city), a citizen of the first world and an extremely wealthy country (the U.S.A.). But after my family history lesson: what does it mean to enjoy the fruits of so much labor (my ancestors).
I think what I'm suggesting is that I think there is something incredibly immoral about us. And by immoral, I do not mean conservative ideas and traditions. What I mean is a deep emotional emptiness, vapidity, hedonism. When I look around at the culture to which I belong, of course I see people who care, who have passion, who are smart. But I see indulgence, aimlessness, shallowness.
Just look at Instagram and what it encourages of us. It's all image. And so many of my friends who fancy themselves 'deep' liberals who are allegedly politically conscious or at least are trying to be 'good people' in the world, they are still mostly shallow. It's all about their image, their online wit, their things, their bourgeois fantasies, their evidence of "making it".
I am very suspicious of it. This cult of the individual. And also this incredible remove from the rest of the world. It's as if no other world exists. And I'm not just talking about the rest of the physical planet. I'm talking about other classes too, like poor people. Nobody talks to poor people. Everybody just wants to be rich.
This is not an original idea. But it has been on my mind.
After I spent time with these old photographs of my ancestors, mostly farmers who looked very serious, very purposeful, the vapidity of my own life came even more into focus. That is, my life purpose is not even really a purpose, like their purpose to survive. I've got survival on lock down. It's just that my concerns--my alleged purpose (my art career)--just feels so suspiciously trivial.
Now I know more than most people how important art actually is. But as a citizen of the first world and a member of a comfortable class (meaning I can dine out and buy myself clothes sometimes--I'm never stressed anymore about bills), what really am I doing with these enormous privileges and benefits?
I do not see eye to eye anymore with this world which only seems to distract me with its false ideas and myths around 'success', the bottomless pit of attention we have been groomed to seek out with rapacious gluttony. I have spent the majority of my life chasing these illusive, not satisfying ideas.
I have been trying to reconcile these feelings with the simple fact that I emotionally and physically HAVE to make art--it fulfills me. True, art is the ultimate privilege when you think about: a bunch of objects nobody asked for that you made to express yourself. But again, how do I use this fact of my life to draw actual purpose. How do I purify myself of the baggage of this totally vapid and distracting universe and create an art that actually serves some greater purpose that is not just about glorifying myself as some heroic individual?< >