Done and Un-Done

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Making Art and Where to Find It

 

I make art because I want to change the world, because I want the world to be different. I want my experience of the world to be made better somehow. I make art because I’m dissatisfied. I think there’s meaning in this; Art is agency out of desire, becoming resistance. Art is an affirmative act of un- acquiescing.  

 This, I think, is neither remarkable nor heroic. It is to be expected. Dissatisfaction incites action, which plausibly suggests that the lurking voice of it also provokes inspiration and will nearly always be influential, particularly with regards to creativity. Beyond this though, the presence of dissatisfaction in this role seems very nearly universal. Therefore, it would seem it is also an ever-dynamic counterweight to - alone-ness. 

 I think this is right and if it is, then the world can’t really be just my world, can it? Is there any such thing?  I suppose an argument could be made (surely someone has already made it) that most everything begins with some subjective construal, i.e. a “me”, and maybe ends at the same place. But the point is that however inescapable that subjectivity is, one cannot be not in the world. Can they?  It’s a persistent thing to wonder along with the multitude who’ve wondered before me, if any concept of a singular, non-dependent, separate self can be fully coherent. Here the certainty of a simple yes or no answer will not be forthcoming. One might instead contemplate a query that goes something like: “Where does Me end and World begin?”, or if one prefers, “Where does World end and Me begin?”. Either way, it’s the same thing. It is a question about identity. (Me?  <  ?  > World?)

I don’t know if this formulation really demands an answer. Besides, I don’t think there is one - strictly speaking. More to the point is that upon the asking we’ve most certainly opened a door to a bewildering existential territory. Here a quandary exists, putting us face to face with implications we can’t ignore while our attempts to delineate its boundaries, define the range of its jurisdiction, or map the edges of its districts break down. The “ME” we live with, the one we sleep and wake with, think with, feel with, love, hate and meet others with, has become - questionable. That this other “ME” is distant, obscure, and unfamiliar, is a clue to who we are and aren’t. Yet. 

  Amidst this imbroglio then, one might say that we are essentially “all over the place”. Instead, we’re everywhere and anywhere but certainly not - nowhere. Further, it seems fair to think that we’re not generally very well attuned (maybe we’re un-attuned) to the primordial, metaphysical, or perhaps even mystical instincts it takes to understand this type of psycho-spiritual ecosystem. So, what happens if and when those instincts come to life? Can we accept their guidance towards knowing the quiddity of this place as something other than alien? Maybe, with re-ordered dispositions, some of us would be able to wander into this “strangeness”, better prepared to hunt, gather, and deliver benefactions we can’t find elsewhere. Maybe some of us are just supposed to be doing this. Maybe some of us already have and already are. I believe this is the case and when thus adapted, we can gain access, even if only in bits and pieces to some oft neglected and under credited stuff that will enable us to do a better job of making being alive, in a word, better.

 

That said, unless we pay attention to the role this expansive question of “identity” (Me? <  ?  > World?) plays in how we define the search and design our methods, I don’t think we can be very good at this job. Identity, which is after all, a human creation, is a predictor of how our notions of progress, morality, community, society and even survival operate, not to mention what they mean and where they’ll take us. 

I wonder then, - who are we when “Me” does turn out to be questionable? 

 

“I am he as you are [she] as you are me and we are all together.”

John Lennon, “I am the Walrus”.

 

and

“…..there is no document of civilization which is not

at the same time a document of barbarism”. Walter Benjamin.*

 

Like I said, I make art to change the world.