The impulse is to do it. The obstacle is doing it well. It is so clear to me that to write every day is an important exercise; it seems that I must care about writing. When writing about a particular subject, the Google instinct is deeply ingrained. My now-15-year habit states firmly that someone must have covered this subject already exhaustively and I cannot approach it without first reading all that they have to say. I'm sure this is a common ailment of our age. There are clues, facts and insights that can only improve my perspective and there is analysis which must be studied. The mission stops there, paralysed by an infinite library. When writing more broadly, fashioning an Opinion Piece, I have a feeling that my thoughts could be more refined, better hewn by endless note-taking and restructuring. The mission draws to a close, stuck in development, fatally cursed by a sense of inadequacy.
As a result of what might be idealism, only two paths exist for me and my will to create. The first is a straight line of improvisation - automatic and instinctive, spitting my best of the moment, freestyling towards a vision of instant publication. I find it all derivative, childish even - a raw energy of motivation, pulling from wherever inspiration is found in the mind. It is a style of creation for creation's sake, music to absolve silence like words spoken to fill an awkward pause. The second is an attempt to create something wonderful, something worthy of an ethereal self-regard. It is a desire to represent some altogether imaginary true self and present it proudly to the world.
There must be a Third Way. There must be some form of creativity that straddles the divide - a way above, beyond or between these routes to, on the one hand, a sort of desperate babble and an evocation of what I once called "the unfettered democracy of the mind" and on the other, eternal research and a model of permanent creative dissatisfaction. The latter is the worse of the two, collation of content and perspectives extending the remit and pushing an end point ever further away as more ideas come in. The ambition grows with new concepts and the goal deviates toward impossibility.
Kurt Schwitters, a Dadaist and "assembler of garbage", said that "everything the artist spits is art". This stuck with me as I grew up and found all populist arguments on art stuck in the 1920s, the endless question, even at what should have been high levels of discussion, being "but, is it art?" Perhaps I gave up too quickly and resigned myself too easily to fighting with the popular paradigms of understanding. I have always found myself, from topic to topic, stuck at a point of puerile argument with the mainstream, debating the status quo. Free will? How could we base our society on it? Iraq? Why does the news report only the deaths of the paler skinned? Art? Why has its progress become so self-reflexive and contrary? How could any art be considered good or bad?
In trying to find a constructive place to think and work among all of these barriers and confusions, I have sought to disappear. In working exclusively with samples, in focusing attention away from myself and towards a screen full of manipulated video familiarities, I have lazily and expediently dissolved my self into a whitewash of culture. What better way to absolve myself of the responsibilities of expression and the commitment of ever stating anything? I used to say that to define anything was impossible, so to speak of it with more accuracy one must talk "around" the subject. The remaining negative space could then maybe give a sense of it. The idea that a word cloud of related topics and images is somehow a more accurate signifier that the name of an idea or object. That idea persists in my mind alongside the adage that "those who know don't speak and those who speak don't know". I want to yell and remain silent, argue and never make a point. I want to exist and create in the space between what is and what, by definition, can never be. I am a loathful product of mass media and postmodernism unwilling to engage, unable to mature. I long to find sincerity, expression and the long-promised post-ironic age and there and then begin the brave process of being involved, accepting truths and saying something I mean.
A New Theory of Distraction | The New Yorker -
4 weeks ago