So says John Steinbeck.
Interviewing an artist recently about the release of his latest album, he pointed out how narcissistic and arrogant it was to think anyone would care about his new songs or what he had to say and that lingered with me. He was absolutely right. Thousands of people care and will buy the album but it is an inherently odd concept to birth something creative in the world and hope someone takes the time to consume and share it. Even if it took five minutes to create and will raise money for charitable causes (which is great and noble), it doesn’t matter. You may share the rewards but ultimately it’s you that gets the virtual pats on the head, notoriety and eventually monetary gain for a job well done. And yes, obviously I realize artists do also have bills to pay and must survive but it’s hard to do so without you or someone else on your behalf saying “Hey everybody! Look how amazing I am”.
“It’s the dues we all have to pay
It’s the reason we’re all here to stay
Hell, this is gonna be your lucky day
So keep laying down those rails
Sledgehammer poundin’ on the nails
Just sing along if all else fails
It’s the Hollywood Chain Gang”- Tony Lucca
It bothered me and I couldn’t stop thinking that whatever medium of art, producing something to be viewed by the public will bring narcissistic attention. It sticks like a yucky guilt-filled film that can never wash off. I doubt anyone wakes up as an artist and is like “Hmm. How self-absorbed can I be today?” but the act of creation inherently draws this out. Even when creating or being inspired by an external event, cause or a loved one. By releasing it, you are saying, “These are MY thoughts and feelings about X therefore YOU should also think and care about X”. Even typing these words right now fall into this category.
Does that mean all art should cease? Imagine how empty the world would be without it but recognition of this intended or unintended consequence or character trait is freeing. “Narcissist artists unite!”- Said no one. Now, it’s time to fill out some volunteer applications to do community service in the spirit of sincere altruism. Ok, am getting off the soapbox and will put down the virtual mirror. For now.
“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”- Brené Brown
- Try not calling for a week or so and then explain it’s because you knew I’ve been busy. Really, all that you knew because you called so much?
- Blame it on the al-al-al-al-alcohol.
- Fill your glass so overfull you can’t help but notice how empty it is, you know, with so much empty water-nothingness in there.
- Work at forgiveness, realize that resentment and forgiveness don’t generally hold hands, they both have “an open field in the rain-shower effect.” Think about it harder.
- Sleep well. Wake in Spirographic circles. And look over at the nothing next to you. Now, ahhh, doesn’t that feel… don’t you feel anything at all?
Great then, you’ve mastered it.
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
—Winnie The Pooh
“The writer must be in it; he can’t be to one side of it, ever. He has to be endangered by it. His own attitudes have to be tested in it. The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.” —Arthur Miller
Packed up lots of items from our closets to give away to a shelter. Bought a puppy toothbrush and toothpaste at Petsmart today. Re-reading about Why The Caged Bird Sings. Revising so bad it hurts. Waking up answering to. Eating live butter lettuce and baby yellow tomatoes. My Christmas tree is still up, I don’t know what I feel about Christmas. Arranged the books neatly in the bookcase.
Picture by 79ideas