Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Artistic Angst

The artist's mind is a temperamental thing. If you didn't already know that, you may be a cultural idiot. The sometimes bizarre behavior, outlandish clothes, body art and unusual hair, the roller-coaster mood swings; are all typical manifestations of the only kind of mind capable of manifesting creative genius. That genius is supposedly born of  both innate talents and strong emotions brought about by some stimulus, ie. the term "Artistic Angst". True, there are a lot of people who mimic similar outward artistic markers, but you can usually identify an "honest-to-goodness" creative artist from the rest. They are inherently "different", and they possess a unique vehicle to express themselves.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they "wished they had my gift". It would be great to make money before I'm dead, for starters. It would also be nice to use the money to print out this blog entry on a little card and say, "I don't think you understand what you're wishing for".

What I wish people who aren't artists would understand is the torrent of emotion that accompanies the "gift". The most inspired pieces of art are in fact, another human's soulful experience. A painting, poem, song or dance is another person's way to convey their pain or joy or excitement or awe. That original artwork is a direct conduit to another human's honest emotions. It is the healthy way that person has learned to cope. It was NEVER INTENDED TO MATCH YOUR STUPID COUCH. It is a feeling so big that it impacts your whole life - a life that is so impacted by your experience that it will never resemble "normal". When you wish to be an artist, you are wanting a life that is governed by your ability to feel so intensely that you needed to construct and master an outlet for those emotions so that you could live a "normalish" life.

Now don't get me wrong. Cultural idiots are NOT an artist's greatest enemy. They're more or less just annoying. An artist's greatest enemy is apathy. Apathy, sometimes holding the apron-strings of depression, is the worst place for an artist's mind to nest. Even the well-springs of depression can produce an energy or passion to express experience and thought, but apathy is a void. It is the black hole of inspiration, the (hope-to-God-temporary) mental death of the artist. And while we can be  "Pollyanna" and look on the bright side of artistic angst for it's inspirational merit, it takes a heavy toll on that human spirit - a spirit that probably turned to art because it was delicate and sensitive in the first place.

It is that dichotomy that results in inspiration or apathy. You have to be very resilient and very tender-hearted to impact the world. Shame on anyone who takes advantage of you. Bless those who hold your head when you cry. Know that when you do feel like you're apathetic and you're overwhelmed, you really are going to be okay...otherwise, it wouldn't bother you to "not feel" anything.