Tuesday, February 16, 2016
I have been an artist of some sort my whole life long. To which you might say "Who hasn't?"
To which I reply "Good for them. I am interested to see all seven billion peoples' work."
I have painted and drawn, cartooned, dabbled in performance art, made movies, been in a band, crafted sculpture, and written. Look at me now. This is the writing one of those listed above, as indicated by all the little letters you're reading via some brain process that's more or less beyond human comprehension. Well done.
On the one hand this art creation has been soul work, centering and celestial. It has been for myself, a religious quest, a moment of truth, a reason for living. It has been pure, engaging, thrilling, strengthening, fun, disappointing, demanding, and interesting. It has been hallucinatory, introduced me to the gods, torn my heart open, and given me the taste of dirt, cork, raspberries, flowers, and chalk. It has tattooed me, damaged me, and restored me.
So, there's that.
On the other hand there's the fame, success, and money aspect of art creation. The striving, the seeking validation, popularity, rewards, adulation, notoriety, attention, respect, and wealth. Or, perhaps even more essentially to me, it has been the stewing around in the bitterness of the spare arrivals of any of those things.
One of these artistic relationships is like a plant, let us say a tough and spirited tree, full of deep roots and tenacious bark, growing in rock and thin soil, but thriving and fierce and wild and lovely. And one is like some horrible infestation of beetles, swarming over the tree and eating it out from the inside.
The reason it's beetles is because you can't save yourself by killing just one, or even a clump, but rather you have to keep killing and killing and killing and killing again. Are there too many to kill? I hope not.
But there is another way too.
Out in the west the Mountain Pine Beetle is decimating forests. The Mountain Pine Beetle is not some invasive foreign invader. It's been there all along. But most of the pine trees were strong and healthy, and The Mountain Pine Beetle could usually find no purchase under its bark. But as the world heated up with Global Warming the pine trees grew weaker, and more vulnerable.
And so besides squishing every metaphorical beetle I see, I also try to work in my cold basement. I try to work in the inhospitable inbetween seconds at my library. I go to my fierce places. I write out here among the rocks, in the abandoned land, in the ice. And most of all I endeavor to forget you, the general you, who are hot, five degrees hotter on average, and slightly poisonous, and full of infestations, droughts and floods.
Instead I look into the cold night and desperately seek to remember you, singular and particular. I seek no tide, or herd, or consensus, I keep my eye out only for one wild creature, who can read. Let's stick to that.