I recently engaged in a comment section dialogue with two of my most dedicated readers. One is a beloved cousin, Mike. The other, an anonymous contributor, known as “Ralph Wiggumn,” who I quite enjoy even though I don’t know (if I know) him.
You can go back to the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Stream of Consciousness post to see the interaction if you’d like.
I blasted off the responses to each of these “constant readers,” then spent hours, likely lost sleep, thinking about my side of the interactions.
One thing became abundantly clear, before I open my mouth in a state of emotional arousal (…which is approximately always…), I should shut it approximately one second before I open it…and think.
Let the emotions settle.
THEN…speak (text, Tweet, Facebook rant, comment).
This morning, I sat with a journal and wrote the first thoughts that poured out of my fingers. Here is what I wrote:
Why must I, so often, shit on a person or piece of art to justify a connection with ANOTHER person or piece of art?
Why always the comparison?
The judgment and ranking.
Perhaps it is a human tendency…but there is also my drive to be right, to prove my intelligence, knowledge, and overall value as a human. (i.e. my insecurities)
It’s not, often enough, enough to just be…to enjoy a piece of art, even analyze it, without then placing it on some self-created chart of: better/worse.
I recall a talk by Ram Dass in which he describes walking in the forest, seeing the vast diversity around him, then focusing on just trees. So many different shapes, sizes, and idiosyncracies even within the same species in the same proximity. We never look at one tree and think, “Eh…too fat,” and then another, “Such ugly bark patterning.” No, we accept each tree as its natural self.
But with other people? The precise opposite. So often a judgment, a comparison, and finding a way to “win” some imagined competition.
Same with art. Human created pieces that express the individual and, necessarily, the broader and universal species condition.
It’s all useless…and has a negative impact on health, happiness, and relationships.
After writing that, I geared-up and ran with The Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street.” It blew me away. And as I write this I’m listening to “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” Aurally, it’s impressive and entirely far out. Trippy. Experimental. I hear the seeds of, “Sympathy for the Devil,” that amazing use of the drum kit and percussion by Charlie Watts. He has such a unique and unmistakable “voice” with his choices. I can’t wait to fall in love with him just like I fell in love with Ringo after having given him zero respect or thought for decades.
If I’m losing sleep about this shit I’ve got bigger fish to fry than thoughts on Ringo and Charlie. I envision Freddy Krueger coming to me on one of those restless nights when sleep eludes me initially and then I fall into cascading, almost psychedelic anxiety-driven dreams. He raises the bladed glove, tips the fedora, smells my emotional state and turns around. “Fuck that. I don’t want that energy on my conscience.”
No, that’s not really my point.
My point is…art is art.
We’ve created entire philosophies and fields of study dedicated to making hard science of artistic expression. It’s all bullshit. Art is expression. Art is experience. Art is emotion, relationship, communication without the unwieldy, typically woefully inadequate vehicles of conventional language transmission. To make art is to rip open one’s chest and pour one’s soul back into the universe that is the selfsame soul.
Or it’s not. WTF do I know?!