In rehab, people argue all of the time. Especially in group meetings.
Although I thought that these arguments were a complete waste of time, I nevertheless engaged them. I mean, why not?
The last “debate” I got into, some kid was trying to define the meaning of success. He wanted to be a YouTube sensation. He was going to be a rapper/DJ, and expected to be a millionaire by 30.
Most people would have simply rolled their eyes or discarded this conversation as nothing but a misguided dream of youth. But I was having none of it. For him, it was all about the money and the “bitches”.
Someone needed to speak up.
“So you’re not in it for the music?” I asked. I probably should have called him out for calling women “bitches” as well, I feel kinda bad about that.
But this conversation has sort of stuck in my crawl.
Not because it was the dreams of some kid. If he becomes successful, good for him. But because it’s a total lack of commitment to craft. Where’s the story? Where’s the love? Where’s the conflict? WHERE’S THE PASSION?
And he’s not the only one. If you’ve spent any amount of time around pretentious white people, it isn’t long before you hear “I’m writing a book”. Like they want you to heap praise onto them for something they haven’t completed yet.
If you truly love something, you won’t give a fuck what people think. One shouldn’t go into the arts for the appreciation of others. Sadly, that’s why MOST people are attracted to it. Not gonna lie, there’s probably some part of my subconscious that’s attracted to that end. But if that’s the primary motivation, you and me are bound to be disappointed. Art, to a degree, is to be cathartic….a release of one’s own emotions, to create something that’s reflective of the artist.
It won’t matter if it’s appreciated, as long as the final product is something the artist truly wanted to construct. The objective isn’t to make something that others want to see, but to create something YOU want to see.
How true one is to their own passion is the genius of art. To FEEL it, one must be brave enough to face their own realities. Which is why most of the great artists are (were) absolutely insane.
TO BE great is to be insane. Which is why passion is not a gift to the possessor….but is a curse.
Again, think back to Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Christ never at any point felt blessed that he had to die for all of humanity. He was burdened by it. To take pleasure in it would have meant that it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. Christ had gifts and was given a duty of heavy burden….to have gifts, and be “blessed” with the burden of genius is no blessing.
The saying “dance like no one’s watching” is such a cliché. It’s thrown around haphazardly without any sort of thought. But do we have the courage to practice it? I believe that it was Diogenes that went around Ancient Greece arguing with himself. It didn’t matter if you acknowledge the shit he was saying, it was important to him. He had such conviction in his lifestyle and philosophy, that he infamously didn’t give a fuck that he was talking to Alexander the Great. Nowadays, we’d just consider this person clinically insane or blow them off as simply being a homeless person.
In those days, that person was a philosopher!
But Western society has become too formalized to permit the normalization of such behavior. While simultaneously wishing to break out of such social demands, we also steadfastly uphold them. We don’t do this through any legalized practice, but (if I’m understanding this correctly) through a Zizekian (or Lacanian) “Big Other”. Or through some invisible order that socialized peoples attempt to abide by. This, in my view, hasn’t KILLED artistic genius, but has shifted it around the struggle between duty and meaning to one’s self and their responsibility as a socialized creature. Therefore, partly explaining why a Diogenes-like thinking is difficult to come by these days.
So while artistic genius hasn’t be killed (or rather, it’s been shifted), it has been stymied by the predominance of this “Big Other”. Or rather, modern artists attempt to appeal to this Big Other (a non-existent entity), which in turn jeopardizes the integrity of their work. Artists begin to see their own worth in how others perceive them…which is an anxiety that’s perpetuated by the prevalence digital media outlets. We, as spectators, partake in this “Big Other” by rewarding and consuming cheap content. Therefore merit is not found in quality or genuine artistic genius, but through clicks, likes, and shares.
Art is not a democracy.
We can argue that these threats have been made against art since the beginning of time. Censorship might have been the greatest threat once, but in our own era it has become the “tyranny of the majority” for a lack of a better description. This new threat promotes not artistic genius, but the drive to be noticed rather than being true to one’s craft.
So once again, we find ourselves struggling to find authenticity. Which is why the world of Blade Runner is so relevant now.
Speaking of which, I find it funny that so many of the criticisms of Blade Runner: 2049 are similar to the ones from the 1982 film. If you went in expecting to see Ryan Gosling mow down an army of replicants, then you’re an idiot. People were also expecting that in 1982 and they missed out on one of the greatest films of all time. Blade Runner: 2049 isn’t an action film, it’s genuine sci-fi. And since it’s underperforming at the box office, you’d be doing the film, and yourself, a great disservice by avoiding it. It’s truly a cinematic experience, so go shell out a few dollars and three hours of your life and go see this movie!