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13 November 2013 @ 05:46 pm
all about the process  
initially posted at my wordpress.

It's not clear. You listen and listen. Establish a ritual, a gradual coming into form, a way for the process to manifest. Give the process space. A room, let it choose the curtains, paint jewel tones on the walls, provide it with sufficient shelving for the ever-growing collection of resources it travels with.

Remember the process needs a home and it is not in your best interests to shake it awake at night screaming NOW, DAMNIT, NOW. That will create an antagonistic relationship between you and process. Eventually you'll reach a point where it will only make suggestions when you have something you really ought to be minding on the stove. That's not to say that food preparation--or driving--or bathing--or assembling a jigsaw puzzle--can't all be places where fleshy, sustaining inspiration comes to you, because obviously they all are, every one--but as an artist, it is equally important to have a concept surface when you can immediately offer it studio time and not solely when you're on the bathroom floor clutching at your abdomen, reacting to the idea simply as: Now? Really? Now you come to me? Couldn't you have come to me before i ate that?

Too often, I think, I just plunge in and expect something to happen. I haven't straightened my work space, I haven't called the quarters, I haven't purified the space with sage and called the loving ones forth with sweetgrass. Too often, in fact, I think of that loving one as a punishing dark lord, one who cannot be called upon, one who cannot be encouraged into the effort but instead only visits as a torment: a half hour into a ten hour shift, maybe, or when I have six articles worth of automotive injury work due by end of day. I don't believe it's that way, really: but you need to make the effort. Light a candle. Warm yourself up with a reading, a ritual, a few pages in the journal. start a process, respect it as a process. The work will come in time.

Oftentimes i start with a phrase. I'll cast out a net and see what's in the atmosphere. What are today's colors, what it its emotional state. Words will click together sometimes, will make a shape, will curl up in a sudden continuum, like filings around a strong magnet. A phrase pops into my head, like "It's not clear," like "she whispers into the stillness," like "so let us say: draw back the curtain." and i'll seed the rest of an entry from it. Go on, do go on. Keep going. The edges dark and traced, the center white and blinding. How line emulates darkness. The intensity of activity needed to convey emptiness in visual art when emptiness is, by it's very nature, the natural state of unaltered material, see:

Re-establish a relationship with concept. With feeling for the solid edges of something down in the indistinctive haze. Put words together, create something simply because an image, an atmosphere, a phrase haunts you. Poetry is not fed by intellectual analysis. I must not be so terrified of seeming ignorant, unschooled, or naive, especially not in my first draft. React strongly to what others see as mundane, this is what teenagers do with their music, this is what an artist does in a body of work: they take what others see as mundane or what others do not see at all and they persuade us into that reaction ourselves. Well, i came here, so why am i here?

Look at me becomes look at this becomes look, damnit, or you'll never see. Mature art takes the artist's inherent and necessary narcissism and transforms it into something that society needs.

Look at it this way: eternity does not care that you have a new boyfriend. It does not care about your latest purchase, your new car, about what you are eating for dinner. Your social connections–the people who know you–might be intrigued, envious, or annoyed. Painfully, eternity–like larger society–is indifferent. Contrary to whatever illusions we feed ourselves in social networks, the endless majority of strangers in the world don’t care one whit that you just did yoga or spent a lot of money on a new video game system or are having vegan pot pie for dinner. Because our social networks provide us with several hundred ‘like’ clicks within the hour, we can continue to exist in our illusion that everything we express about ourselves Matters To Everyone Who Sees It, that we can ramble on as pointlessly as we do when we’re tired and drunk and someone, somewhere, will validate that as Self Expression.

The danger of social networks for artist is simply that it gives us an easy audience. Wherever we are, we have that audience, and therefore, we do not need to cultivate our aptitudes and potential beyond those initial demonstrations of capacity.

If someone with a critical eye should approach and press you beyond “this is amazing,” we have enough other followers to drop them at the first suggestion of “but.” And really, what’s so horrible about that ‘but?’ But it needs work. But perhaps we haven’t tumbled out from between our mother’s legs as a fully developed master of our chosen medium. The ‘but’ of a compliment may provide us with a crucial tool for developing authority, not the least of which could be learning to accept that a few red marks now and again won’t invalidate you as an artist.

Neither will growth-inspiring observations such as:

  • Perhaps you are not yet demonstrating why your audience can connect with this image.
  • Perhaps you have not struck a resonant cord for people who do not know you personally.
  • Perhaps this piece is tedious, or bland, or way too derivative.
  • Perhaps you're showing something that reveals you don't have a very unique, educated or compassionate perspective regarding the subject matter.
  • Perhaps you aren't experienced enough to have a sense of scale, to choose a subject that other people can connect with.
  • Perhaps this work, of which you are currently so proud, will ultimately only serve you in its lesson-providing mistakes.

    We, the all of us, want to believe we are original, talented, sexy, beautiful, smart, informed, open minded, excited to learn, able to endure pain; we want to see ourselves as having survived something, having been useful in spite of our troubles, we want our troubles to amount to something. Nobody wants to be a whiny, ignorant, privileged know-it-all whose primary function in the company of others is to serve their tedious, uninspired, and predictable self-interest.

    We want to be artists! We want to be altruists! We want to understand! And yet, as we get older, we deal with all of the terrible qualities, taking a number of them on ourselves, at least for a time. We whine. We’re uninspired. We’re naive. Instead of ‘look at this’, we get stuck on ‘look at me.’ And a blossoming artist, feeding themselves entirely on social networks, can skip the process of coming to terms with relevancy; just stay safe in that gated psychic nursery of easy security – the press of one button silences anyone who might make us feel less than miraculous, anyone who might remind us that our process still has a lot of unfolding to do.

    Used to be we’d go to gallery showings or read contemporary masters to scare the shit out of ourselves, to make us understand the larger difficulties of relevancy, to make us realize “I will never be this good.” Only then, humbled by the limitless greatness of others, would we start listening to the lessons, would we stop rolling our eyes at an instructor’s challenging attention. Now, surrounded by dozens mediocre and worse, an artist can comfort themselves regarding their skill in comparison. It’s easy to be devastatingly gifted amongst your Facebook friends, especially when a large number of them might want to sleep with you. The reality of it is once you step out of that bubble you might discover yourself as infinitely less engaging in a universal sense. Total strangers don’t see the reason why they should turn from their own Facebook to look at your work.

    It is not clear

    You listen and listen
    Nevarra: tossed aroundnevarra on November 14th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
    This is profound.

    And difficult. Because it is so freaking spot on.
    selva oscuraanonymousblack on November 19th, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
    it's been a nearly complete text document on my desktop since 2011. i've actually been afraid to post it anywhere, because i feel like it makes me seem cruel.

    or... you know. authoritative.

    yeah. i might have some stuff to unpack, there.
    sprinklerthiefsprinklerthief on November 14th, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
    thank you for this.
    selva oscuraanonymousblack on November 19th, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
    you're welcome.

    i need to post stuff more often, i think.
    crimson_vita: blossfeldt curly fragmentcrimson_vita on November 14th, 2013 05:52 am (UTC)
    Man oh man oh man. Those first couple of paragraphs. Not even as an artist, but someone simply trying to get something out that needs to come out- so true, it surfaces and cries for instant definition. I try to remember phrases, sparse outlines jotted down on mental post-it notes, hoping that it'll come back to me once I'm in front of my journal again but it never really does.

    Even when lying in bed and not able to sleep- it can disappear between that and getting up to sit at the computer. *cough*3am*cough*


    And just, all of it (your entry), very true.

    The whole thing (this process of which you speak) reminds me of the last part of The Hollow Men (Between the conception / And the creation / Between the emotion / And the response / Falls the Shadow).

    Social networks *are* where many people lean together, headpiece filled with straw.

    ["Alas! our dried voices, when we whisper together are quiet and meaningless as wind in dry grass, or rat's feet over broken glass in our dried cellars" ...sorry for rambling. It's possible this is the product of not being able to sleep, but your whole entry is triggering associations.]
    selva oscuraanonymousblack on November 19th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC)
    yeah, everything you say. it's actually been emotionally good for me to not have the computer in the room where i sleep any longer, though on the bad nights it means i have to be that much further away from bed... and will often end up writing content instead of speaking my mind.

    i gotta sit down with that poem again. everything has had some alarming new contexts over the course of the last 13 months.