I keep forgetting, that even amongst my circle of friends, the things I do and enjoy doing don't necessarily seem meritorious. I guess because a lot of the time my fiddlings don't result in some widely advertised public showing, or perhaps they don't even realise I'm doing things because the majority of the time what people are hearing from me are complaints about my shitty job on facebook.
I'll admit, I don't have the output of a lot of others, that I'm lacking in focus and direction and have so many loose ends to my 'practice' that some sort of hilarious anal sex analogy* should be made here, but I still find it infuriating when people I value the opinion of either aren't paying any attention or, even worse, are and just don't give a shit about (/just don't value in the same way, hopefully) what I'm choosing to devote my time to.
Back in those years of teenage ouchiness my friend, in the midst of a pseudo-suicidal fit of existential insecurity, once asked me "what compels a person to stay alive?" It was the wee hours of the morning, and my sluggish brain, at that time confounded, could come to no other conclusion but "biology" - the human body as a machine that compels us to function, that should then be taken as evidence for our need to "live" in a more philosophical sense. It was a lazy answer, which I realised at the time, and so did my friend as she quickly brushed my answer off to return to her ontological questioning on MSN Spaces.
Months later that question came to mind again, and with it many similar evenings of overthought teenage angst. Memories of infuriation, of clashing opinions, of wounded pride. Then I realised, perhaps for me at least, the compulsion to stay alive might come from a need for acceptance, the quest for validation of those things that you hold to be true, of finding some place, some mindset, where you feel at ease with yourself and are valued in a similar way by others^.
Albert Camus, in his writings on suicide (I think, I'm fairly rusty) said that it was an individual's feelings of being divorced from their environment that would drive them to take their own life. This makes sense to me - a person needs some framework within which to arrange their concept of self, and existing in a world makes it an inevitable part of this framework. You need to feel that you 'fit' somewhere in your world, that you have a place that you can function, or else what are you but an entity without context?
As I sit here as an 'artist', or whatever the fuck it is I am, it seems for a lot of other people meaning-giving frameworks are easier to find. Naturally, everyone is prone to existential exasperation, painful paradigm shifts and all those other things, but sometimes I find myself fantasising about what it would be like if I'd taken a more pragmatic route - one clearly marked and with handrails. If I'd been able to find an enthusiasm for, perhaps, business studies (if not out of interest then out of a need to buy a house as part of a fixed 10 year plan or something similar), I could have studied for that exact HSC mark that would get me into that exact course, gone to some networking meetings, applied for internships advertised to my faculty at the same time as the rest of my cohort, and spent the rest of my days working my way up through that company, or perhaps rotating around a few different companies using the same managerial skills at each. I say again, there is plenty of room for existential disasters in this area, but at least if you step from outside your own insecurity there's a hierarchical external structure, as defined by your organisation, that can be moved within.
Where is that when you just want to make shit, constantly being torn between being different enough to seem original, or consumable enough to be shown? Art practice is so dependent on self motivation. Creative people are constantly being told to stick to their guns, do their own thing and so set themselves apart, but which way is the best way when you are, to be original, cutting yourself adrift? Will there just come a point where you originality attains a level of 'good' that is enough to be recognised? Where is the commanding meta narrative for the artist`?
So, this brings me back to Camus again. In 'The Myth of Sisyphus', he tells the tale of Sisyphus from Greek mythology, a king, as divine punishment, forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down to the bottom again, for the rest of eternity. He uses this as a metaphor for the Absurd universe the individual finds themselves in, one without that grand scheme, without that meta narrative I mentioned before. However, to him this is a positive thing, for within this meaninglessness the individual is then made master of his own fate. With no great scheme to conform to, you can find your own path.
I try to remember this, but as with everything it's harder in practice than it is in theory. Especially when you are bendy and indecisive. But I try to remember this.
(AAah! this was badly structured and poorly written. If you bothered to read it, I doubt that it made much sense. But I ain't no essay writer anymore so it doesn't have to. Though I do apologise for wasting your time. And mine. I just got out of the shower, wrapped myself in a blanket and started writing this thing without getting dressed. Now I'm too cold to move. But I need to meet someone to go to the zoo! So many crises!)
^Of course, this is not to exclude the importance of being challenged from life, for there is always room for improvement. Rather that acceptance etc. is sought regardless of whatever stage of belief you're at.
`I could get into a whole thing about what constitutes 'art' and so 'artist' here, but I'm not going to.