if you ask me what keeps me coming back to the art world, it’s not the free champagne, or the proximity to inordinate amounts of money and clout, or any illusions that this proximity will one day segue into trickle-down wealth (although these are large contributing factors, harhar), but rather the chance to speak to and work with artists, a class of people whom i deeply respect. of course there’s no one way to summarize what an artist is or should be, but i think of artists as people that remain aware and critical of themselves and the world around them, and/or refuse to sacrifice or suppress themselves in the face of whatever their opposing force may be; violence, mundanity, conformism, greed, self-hate, and so on.
the children’s book morals that we like to emblazon in sparkly rainbow slogans and sing to our kids— stay true to yourself, don’t be afraid to be different, chase your dreams— are excruciating ways to live, filled with ridicule, failure, loneliness, and despair. the majority of people are smart enough to realize that living authentically is largely a hellish endeavor, and so, logically, find ways to compromise themselves to arrive at the happiest medium. i am not ashamed to say that i am a part of this majority; which is also probably the exact reason why i find myself gravitating to artists, writers, and thinkers, who shoulder the pain of existing authentically on my behalf.
at the beginning of 2020 i read george orwell’s essay, “why i write.” it came to me at a point in my life where i was still raw from overwork, trying to rationalize finding contentment in cafe-hopping and saturday night wine-and-charcuterie parties with friends. i wanted to prove to society that i could find happiness in the little everyday things, that its attempts to shackle me to labor and money couldn’t hold me down. but i realized that happiness is not enough for me, even after all this. happiness is just a necessity, like water, it doesn’t sate the hunger, the urgency, the emptiness which has morphed into something more like a fever, which is probably not so far off from what we might simply call sheer egoism.
it’s funny that we say “people change”, and we also say “people don’t change”, and both are true. the journey of self-discovery never ends. i have no conclusion today; just the discovery of my ego, withered and malnutritioned, refusing to be smothered.