Thursday, December 26, 2013

l'artiste refoulé

(the repressed artist)

Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

‒ Cesar Cruz

The quote above is just lovely.  I found myself on a high after discovering it on Simon Sinek's twitter page a year ago.  I also felt vindicated.  I had always viewed myself has as an artist, as a tortured soul who was then exposing intimate ideas and feelings in order to relieve the pain that he was experiencing.  Such acts of exposure were far from comfortable and, more often than not, what was expressed did not make sense to people, to those I knew and to those that I did not.  At the end of the day though, once the deed was done ‒ if the deed was done ‒ I would often experience a rare, deep peace.  On the other hand, if the deed was not done, the torture would only amplify.  As such, the only logical thing to do next was continue.

It is often said that adolescence is marked by rebellion, that individuals start coming into their own during their teenage years.  We are talking about people who are half my age.  I actually don't know if this is true, but it seems to be what is accepted, particularly in Western countries.  The thing is, I don't remember having gone through such a phase.  My teenage years were spent meeting external expectations and doing so brilliantly, helped by a long streak of good grades and a strict adherence to the rulebook at school.  Outside of school, life was not much different.  I played the role of a boy who abided by the judgment of his elders, avoided risk and uncertainty, and analyzed situations before deciding what to do or what to say.  In fact, since entering adulthood, I have been on this right path without questioning it.  It is a path that is known, appreciated, and followed by many other people as well.  It also appears comfortable.

But the glitch in this state of comfort is that I see myself as an artist.  I have for a long time and I do not see that changing anytime soon.  Over the years, I have successfully found ways to explore the artistic side of myself.  Yet these explorations, albeit passionate, have remained small in relation to the right path that has always directed them.  More aware of this conflict than ever before, I can no longer afford to add value to a life of socially correct behavior while subjecting to it the longtime vision of myself as an artist, or better yet, as a free spirit.  That would only bring about torture, and I already have enough of it for company.  It follows that some sort of rebellion will be necessary.  A rebellion against the rightness that gets in the way, to be more precise.  Besides, I missed out on the chance to go through that during my adolescence, didn't I?  Well great, I have a new opportunity now as an adult.  Granted, individual rebellion is not usually synonymous with adulthood.  The adult is expected to be serious, careful, reasonable and humble, to care for others, and to contribute to society.  Anything contrary to that is best reserved for younger generations.  Fine.  All that tells me is to choose adult ways of carrying out a rebellion.  All that tells me is to be a rebel with a cause.  After all, it's either that or running the risk of alienating oneself from other adults.  And the latter is another source of torture that I prefer to do without.

So folks, it's time to rebel.

One of the keys to expressing yourself in your art is to try to break through self-restraint, to see if you can get past that socialized part of your mind, the superego or whatever you call it. […] Art, hopefully, is one place where you can get away with that, breaking away from those things and revealing something deeper. I know from my own work I have to let that stuff out, it can't stay inside of me: all the craziness, the sexual stuff, the hostility toward women, the anger toward authority.

‒ Robert Crumb

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