I was tempted to not write this down, but I’m afraid my future deliberations don’t make much sense if I omit this.
I struggle with identity. I don’t have enough of it or at least I don’t understand enough of my own inner workings to make something of me. My art and storytelling suffers from this, too. But today I have actually learned something that might help me to get ahead.
There is another reason why I don’t like rereading books or repetitions of any kind. Everything is emotional labor, coping with it, and when the work is too good and moves me too much, that causes a lot of emotion, especially pain. I would like to avoid this. I have a hard time enjoying new things, as I can’t know how much pain they will cause me. And I surely don’t like returning to things I’ve worked through already to relive the pain or possibly have some new one. This also explains why I like to stick to „safe“ genres like horror and action. Those usually do not challenge you emotionally. And of course, if everything is pain, there’s also a big need for comfort, such as food.
I haven’t seen it like this before but this is totally what it is. Also, it is not only about literature, everything promises pain. But I can’t not live to avoid the pain. Also, if I avoid emotion altogether, I am cutting myself off from the very thing I’m supposed to work with and create for others. I can even trace back when I decided to not feel to one single day in elementary school when an older boy intimidated me for fun on the school yard and made me drop my lunch sandwich on the concrete. I decided I’m going to be strong and not feel anymore. Understandable why a child would come to such a conclusion, but not the healthiest way to deal with problems in the long run. And my emotional development might be stunted since then. The social development was stunted too but caught up by now, for the other one I hope I still have time to get it right. Am I still mad about it? No. Nothing compares to the horrors of being a child and becoming aware of not being and not being treated as a „full“ human being.
When I’m at my best, I’m fearless. This doesn’t mean I don’t experience fear, but that I confront it. I’m not Kandinsky, so my art doesn’t have an abstract conceptual mission (yet). But how about this one: Read my art as me tackling what I’m afraid of most, because this is what I promise myself to tackle. I have some emotional development to make. This doesn’t contradict my rule about my art being made with love and coming from love. I love myself, so I want myself to heal and improve. I want to be brave, courageous, in my native language: mutig.
The time has come. I am ripe to write the first edition of my personal artist statement.
An artist statement provides a general overview of an artist’s work, the personality behind it as well as keys to understanding the art and what to look out for in it. As one changes over a lifetime, the artist statement is destined to change, too, so it’s a living document.
But I must spend a note or two preparing the arrival of mine.
For this note-
My notes as a reader on:
My artist influence Wassily Kandinsky
A great example for a strong artist statement is Wassily Kandinsky, who wasn’t content with just giving you a list. He wrote the great essay „Concerning the Spiritual in Art“, laying down how he kept trying to translate music and the progression of time onto canvas. Art cannot do that…or can it? Knowing this, you are looking at his works with different eyes and maybe even with a different intent. The artworks aren’t just visually pleasing anymore, you will look at them and wonder what sounds he tried to catch and how much of a song or symphony you are seeing there, translated, compressed, spoken out on a 2D plane. And you must not forget, you see it interpreted through him and how he is. Can you read the music and hear it in your head? Would you dare to try?
Also, do you see that Kandinsky’s statement is both grandiose but still simple to understand? Drawing music hard! So I guess if the statement is too complex, it is fake again, and you lose yourself. Also note that Kandinsky didn’t pour all of himself into it. The mission he gave his art surely took up a good chunk of his life and later years, yet we don’t hear about who Kandinksy is and how he is. The art and what it does is the focus of the statement, not him as a person. We can deduct some from what he is doing, yet he does not insist that he is his art and that there are no private spaces left for the private person Kandinsky as well as spaces that are only the work, not the artist.
My notes as a reader on:
As I’ve said in the literature note before, good ideas can find you from everywhere (and vice versa).
I’m a subscriber of the Daily Stoic newsletter. Mind my stance from last note, nothing is ever flawless. Yet, practising thinking in a stoic way reliably calms me down, every single time. And that in turn helps me to solve problems. So it is understandable that I appreciate this school of thought and want to have it in my life.
I was especially lucky with one of the recent e-mails I got:„No man ever reads the same book twice“. It dealt with the experience of reading and rereading the greatest books you meet in your life. You read a book, it changes your perspective on life for the better, you therefore make different decisions, act differently and you and your life change. Or you just drift off and live life, make new experiences. Then you come back later and rediscover the book, but find more or a different meaning in it or even find that by now you completely misremembered it’s content and have to reread everything. This happens to me all the time. And the Daily Stoic wants you to keep going back to your personal lifechanging books and keep rereading them. That’s a notion worth following. I wasn’t ever considering I could be changing and then learning different things from the same sources as a different reader. But it makes a lot of sense. I wonder what hidden treasures await me amongst the books I already have.
I’ve talked to a different storyteller since my last note. I have realized, I couldn’t trick or convince myself of what isn’t there in SPREY. Wasn’t I talking about a romance with hidden fleshy bits under the coat? I should take that thought serious and cut some fat, a lot of fat, from SPREY.
Let’s think in a new and bold direction, right after Literature Note #005 has smacked my brain moments ago Instead of trying to be a city, instead of trying to be a theme, instead of trying to be a whole cast I should go and be Rich and Willard. Why don’t I let their relationship dictate SPREY? Instead of looking into various things superficially, let’s make this one thing right and find some good words for it.
What’s the conflict here? Rich and Willard are madly in love with each other and it’s a bad idea, even without any cannibal horror rockers or other external threats around. Rich is a convicted cybercriminal and Willard is an ambitious and idealistic cop, who doesn’t know this detail about his partner yet. It also doesn’t help that Rich has a lot of past trauma bottled up he never dealt with and is so scared of being hurt that he keeps making decisions that hurt him more.
Now what is the worst thing that could happen to them?
Imagine one day they’re making out in a back alley during Willard’s break. A new wanted poster comes in and it’s Rich. Now Rich has a lot of explaining to do, Willard’s world collapses faster than he can say, do or feel anything, but they have zero time to discuss it out. Willard has to make a decision really quickly…and decides to help Rich escape the city.
But then… and this then could be anything, it wouldn’t necessarily require the slashers even.
Stepping away from this text for a bit I realized that Willard can only be convinced to do anything that goes against his ideals if someone literally holds a gun to Rich’s head. And then whatever happens doesn’t come from Willard. At least at first. I have a lot of new food for thought. You can be sure, I will soon be back and try to solve this riddle again.
My notes as a reader on:
Matthew B. Crawford – The World Beyond Your Head – Chapter 4
I must preface this with my general stance on philosophy and self-help books. You can find good ideas anywhere, just be aware everything is flawed. No book will ever take the burden of initially then repeatedly taking action, making corrections and overall living and learning from mistakes from you. No book will be the perfect guide for anybody. But who knows what you will discover for yourself from the book before you so give it a go!
I can’t tell whether Crawford’s book is moving me as much as it does because it resonates with me so well or because my defenses are weakened from morning sessions of reading Schumann’s book on writing. Today, starting and not yet finishing chapter 4, was a particularly fruitful reading session for me. I love reading about human perception as all my crafts depend on it. What arrived in my head today, not necessarily what was on the pages, is this:
As much as we would like to escape our body, nature, the material world itself, the limitations of our mind and imagination even, we are still anchored to this reality. We at least originate in it and are built for it. A consequence of this is that we have a taste for reality; we relate to it on a level that is deeper than we might like to admit. Art that captures it moves us. In our most primitive form we are a moving body and no matter how domesticated, our brain thinks like one. For example, we have the easiest time imagining our own body as the center for any measure of distance. Things are left or right or in the front or behind us.
For me as an artist this is thrilling news. My options how to show a world or any space really are melting. The most natural thing that there is is an ego perspective, we see like this every day. Next to it comes a „natural“ eye level and angles. What is a camera? What is a camera in essence if not an ego perspective view of something or someone looking onto a scene? I was looking at and constructing all my pictures wrong. This also seems like a huge help when visualizing things, starting out with oneself as the center of a imaginary place. I’m afraid I will need some time to cope with what I learned today and test the thesis thoroughly.