Saturday, January 17, 2015

Portrait of the Artist as a Child

There is a perception that artists are immature and emotionally stunted, trapped in a state of arrested development. It's difficult to avoid this trap as an artist, considering the degree to which one must preserve a child-like sense of wonder and play. I know I have embodied the stereotype, given my propensity to indulge my impulses and subsume adult responsibilities to the (perceived) demands of my muse.

In case you're wondering, I've always considered Thalia my main muse. She's the Muse of Comedy and Pastoral Poetry, a.k.a. "the Funny/Ugly One." But there are plenty of other muses to whose call I beckon: Clio, the Muse of History; Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy; and Urania, the Muse of Ass Play. (The last one is actually the Muse of Astronomy. Sorry for any confusion or awkward talks with your kids.)

It's a delicate balancing act to try and maintain one's creativity as an adult, especially in these times. (I wonder how many times I've typed "in these times" in my blogs so far. I don't remember doing that at all before our economy began its descent into the crapper.) I had to restrain my passion at my clerical jobs, because my work was so mind-numbing and I found the corporate mission so repugnant. My mind revolted at the thought of what I was contributing to (e.g., The Crash of '08), but in order to keep doing the job (and paying the bills) I had to repress those feelings.

As a result, my creativity took a hit. By blunting my emotions, I had dulled my artistic senses. The words didn't flow out of my pen like they used to, and I lost the sense of wonder I'd grown up with. At the same time, I became angrier and more pessimistic. My salvation came from realizing that my anger was, in the main, redirected sadness. By learning how to grieve, I've reconnected with my creativity, along with my hope and emotions.

Channeling that rage into grief has helped a lot, but it still doesn't solve the problem of trying to find a spiritually rewarding day job. Those seem to be harder to come by these days. Just finding a job that doesn't violate my principles or put me to sleep has become a wild-goose chase. Our society either needs to stop cranking out artists or start cranking out meaningful, stimulating jobs.

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