Apathetic Art World

I found this “inspiring” lamentation on Tavi’s Style Rookie blog. A vintage interview, Kubrick in conversation with Playboy:

While I don’t feel particularly in a “style rut” – as Tavi cites – (when am I not in a style rut, BTW), I can pull creative rut-ness from it. Recently my friend Stacey started a blog called Points of Entry, a novel posted in 49 parts. It’s inspiring, as I’ve been working on my own sci-fi dramedy on back-burner terms. Oftentimes I get ideas for creative projects: some are musical, some writing, some visual, and I usually turn an apathetic eye to them. In my mind, I am full of self-doubt: not about the end-product, but about the necessity of the project.

I really feel the entire art world is saturated with, well everything. Too much music – especially and immediately from where I’m standing. Too much prose, too many words, too much art, too many photographers, filmmakers, painters, illustrators. It seems that everybody with a laptop is an “artist” these days. One half of me, the hardened half, takes this saturation at a definitive sign that my “art” is not required. While the other half, the recently awakened, newly positive half, feels that everybody’s artistic expressions are absolutely needed. Why self-filter? And what’s the point of automatically rejecting everything else?

I don’t want to be a snob, a hater, a disabler – and basically that’s what the hardened half of me sounds like.

When I was teenag’d, everything was inspiring: shitty art and amazing art. I produced some shitty stuff and some amazing stuff. Insider and outsider. I was a writer, illustrator, photographer, musician, digital-to-analogue-cut-and-paste rebel. Fifteen years later, I wonder where all these ideas have gone. Have they gone? I don’t think they’re gone, they’ve simply been reallocated to the other creative things I do in my life; like being a mother and being in The Dears.

But then why now? Why at this point in my life am I turning in this direction? And why, absolutely, am I questioning this when in reality, I’m loving it. As Kubrick mentions, we get older and fear deafens our perception of the world. The End outweighs the existence. I think my loss of “faith in the ultimate goodness of man” has reached its pinnacle, and I’m ready to start shaping something ultimate. I’m now entering the Masterpiece years.

2 Replies to “Apathetic Art World”

  1. I struggle with these thoughts constantly. I think many do, many do not.

    Why now? I ask why ever.

    And wonder if life would be much simpler if I didn’t feel this need to extend my essence out into the universe, this desire for an immortality substitution. I too write, paint, draw, sing, play and record music, sculpt… pretty much anything and everything except dance(in public). I look out into this vast sea of creations and wonder what the point of it is. Why bother when there is SO much out there already. The saturation you write of. Am I doing it for the hope that something will stick.. and stay here on earth longer than my brief blip on the cosmic radar? Am I just an attention whore? Probably a bit of both. And I cannot stop. The alternative is unthinkable and makes my life feel void of meaning.

    I think this is true for our tiny slice of the humanity pie chart. *People like us* if I can be so bold as to share the edge of the genius bench with you for a second. Just the edge though, I wouldn’t assume anything I’ve done even comes close to your contributions to The Dears, a band I consider the closest thing to real magic I’ve heard in music.. in my entire lifetime. This is also why so little of what I’ve created sits out there somewhere in the ether, beyond my tiny room.

    But I have to question whether there really is this saturation. I think this quiet art stuff has always been there, rotting in attics, getting dusty on shelves, decaying in landfills. The only difference now is that we have this huge, cheap, world-wide network to store it. We’re seeing more of it now, but it’s always been there. The Internet simply gives it a place to sit and wait. For eyes and ears.

    But I feel where you’re coming from. I “create” (and I use that word very loosely) these monthly playlists that a few thousand people download every month and I literally sift through hundreds of tracks from hundreds of artists/bands to select 69 of them. And sometimes it feels like it never ends, or that it never will. I sit and wonder how society can sustain itself when it seems like everyone wants to be a rock star, become the next great cutting edge artist or write the next great novel. It can be truly a soul-crushing experience. Not because there’s so much middling, mediocre art out there, but instead because there’s so much that is so much BETTER than anything I could ever create. Or at least that’s how it makes me feel in the moment. Sure, there’s a LOT of crap out there, too. But there appears to me to be so much more that is NOT.

    (jeeze.. is this comment longer than your post? edit it or read it and deny it please, if it’s too much)

    But then I remember someone said something once to the effect that WE are the Universe’s way of perceiving itself. And there’s something primally beautiful about that suggestion. It stirs me and wakes me back up. Even if I know better. And every once in a while, something I write or sing or paint or draw stirs something in someone else. It’s rare, but powerful. Even if it’s only one person. Each one of those perceptually and statistically insignificant reactions mean just as much to me as knowing a thousand people had that reaction. I’m sure you of all people have seen it. You look into a crowd and you see that one person that you KNOW is having a powerful, visceral and deeply personal relationship with that moment. All because of something you created. Sure, it’s probably ego. It might be mixed with a little vanity, pride.. but it is also very simply beautiful. It’s a connection on a different, transcendent level. One that cannot be duplicated even through the intimacy of two human beings in love. It’s an emotional, human, communicative literacy that can’t be reached by any means other than creative expression.

    One of those moments, for me, was the first time I heard “We Can Have It”. It was as if The Dears had reached across the invisible divide of platonic intimacy and grabbed my hand. Then pulled me off the precipice. Honestly a VERY powerful moment.

    These experiences are never”required”. But in my experience, almost nothing that has truly changed me, ever, has been “required”. Not even close. 😉

    I think it’s something more like need. But not ever truly being able to explain why. There just seems to be a “golden- ratio – like thing” in all art. An equation we’ll never solve intellectually, but always solve somehow, on some level, anyway. And every time one of us solves it in some small way, no matter how few people see it or hear it or touch it, our world is improved in some way. Simply by making us feel like we’re “not alone”.. connected. When our reality says otherwise. It is the closest we come in our post-childhood lives of experiencing magic that doesn’t require faith in anything except the feeling we have in the moment.

    Well, that was over-long. I guess you just got me thinking. Thank you.

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