Ever since I realized how many people are actually reading this thing whom I know in person, I kind of lost my momentum. I think, for me, art has been easier sometimes when it’s a struggle or a fight against something, like obscurity.
Which is silly, because there is so much more to learn about life and art than merely battling against obscurity and finding a niche in deciding you are obsolete before you’ve even reached your peak. There’s kind of this undercurrent of philosophy in our society that if you are independent, niche, or obscure, your art is more worthy.
“…for some reason–self-defense, perhaps–artists find it tempting to romanticize…lack of response, often by (heroically) picturing themselves peering deeply into the underlying nature of things long before anyone else has to follow.
Romantic, but wrong. The sobering truth is that the disinterest of others hardly ever reflects a gulf in vision. In fact, there’s generally no good reason why others should care about most of any one artist’s work.”
–Art and Fear/David Bayles and Ted Borland
So, there’s this disconnect–thinking that if no one notices you and you’re good at your work that this means you have some type of higher call others don’t get it, that this makes you better than more established artists. There’s also this credibility issue. There are always little pop media traces like the suicide note Kurt Cobain left quoting Neil Young’s song, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” There are the artists who were unknown in their lifetime but became legends after they died, like Thoreau, Poe and Dickinson. It’s tempting to think to oneself, “Hey, well, they’ll discover me after I’m gone. It’s all good.”
I guess it depends on what your art IS to you. I’ve pondered this again and again. Is it something I feel good doing and so compulsively continue to do it because of this?
I’ve been known to say that if I didn’t write or make music I would probably murder myself. Sometimes, people stare at me funny when I say this, but probably they simply haven’t experienced this feeling. As Bukowski put it: “He asked, ‘What makes a man a writer?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘It’s simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.’”
I believe for me, art is about processing, creating and connection. I don’t want to labor in obscurity, I do get something out of creating something and then sharing it with others. I love performing and singing and jamming with other musicians. It’s all hard work and a constant uphill climb, especially here in the Bay Area, where many musicians are either loaded, working 9 – 5, or already involved in other projects.
I dunno. Some days, you want to throw up your hands, or continue to write songs for yourself, by yourself.
My whole point here being that now that people are actually reading this thing, I’m not as inspired to write in it. I have to take a look at that and wonder–do I enjoy obscurity and the mystique that comes with it? Probably. I sometimes have a crazy fantasy I’ll die and someone will publish my journals Sylvia Plath style. But then I freak out, because *I* don’t even like reading my journals most of the time, as they are filled with all sorts of crazy freak weirdness I don’t even understand, inter-spliced with profound deep thoughts on life. I would feel terrible for any person having to weed out the wack from the sensical.
It all boils down to the fact that we are each nothing and everything. We both matter and don’t matter, in the larger scheme of things. But since we fashion our own reality, we have to check in with that drive inside and keep striving to follow whatever our dreams are–as long as they don’t involve raping, pillaging, or murdering in some nebulous god’s name (my opinion. Do what you will. Whatevs).