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I'm writing reviews of illustrative artists right now and my heart sinks when I see mastery, true mastery. One of my major conflicts in life is this. I want to create, but to create freely. But ultimately. I want to be myself. I want to be myself in everything I do, every sentence I write, every gesture I make, every person I speak with. Herman Hesse, a great, self-realized artist, wrote: I only wanted to follow the promptings of my true self, why was that so difficult? That statement conveys my entire existence. My mother was an artist. She never reached her peak however. She had a disease which robbed her of the years it would take to reach a level of mastery in her art. With enough time, my mother would have become a great artist. She struggled. She was like me. She had a compulsive drive to create. The compulsion comes from a deep, wrenching desire to express; and at the same time, the inability to fully express. This is the conflict inside of every artist. It is the struggle that won't let me fall asleep. Because I have to write. Something. I don't know what it is yet. But it's there inside of me, barking, screaming, crying, aching, swearing. Even the illustration artists whom I revere like Yuko Shimizu, the ones who appear to have mastered their art, they still struggle with the inability to fully express. Because full expression goes beyond skill, beyond talent. It is the spiritual side that eludes the artist, no matter what their powers may be. It is the novelist who, after writing twenty-five novels, still feels like a beginner. And for those artists who overwhelm us with their talents, Nabokov uses the expression "the dubious splendors of virtuosity". Meaning, those who flaunt their powers are suspect.
Art is a deeply personal thing. We must connect with the artwork. It is not about the artist. It is about the connection. It's 4:22 in the morning. I cannot sleep. The wrenching, agonizing desire to write, to express something, has kept me awake. Until I write this, I cannot shut my eyes in peace. Maybe this sounds overly-dramatic of me. But it is true. On most days, the day is half over before I even get out of bed. I was writing the night before. What I want is driving me, it's a Morpheus-like god. Subtly forming and transforming in dreams. Never concrete enough for me to take hold of it. My ex-girlfriend came over the other day. Having lived with her for almost a year, I'm familiar with her struggle--the particular troubles her character lends itself to. Heraclitus: Character is fate. Her struggle is transparent to me; just as mine is opaque. I don't see my own struggle. She sees right though me. I am transparent to her. I told her that I believed each of of us were married to our own struggles. And we can't escape them because it is who we are. I don't think she was listening. She may have been listening to her struggle. But I'm a philosopher and I like to think about life as if I were looking down over the whole perplexed human drama and adding my commentary. Maybe there is no connection. Maybe some of us really don't have "struggles" as I like to think of them in the grand and over-arching sense. Right now I consider myself successful in one area of my life--my business. But no matter how successful I am in that one area, I will always look at the part where I feel I'm not successful. "There must be something wrong. I've got to fix that." But what is success? And what am I not successful in?
Maybe I'm not the artist I imagine myself to be. The artist I want to be. Maybe I expect myself to create more then I do. Or maybe I should be creating something else. No, that's not it. I'm a prolific writer. I regularly update my blogs and I write long essays that maybe some of you are familiar with. But that is not enough. Nothing is ever enough. I hunger after what most people hunger after. Fame, wealth, power, women to desire me. Phantoms. They are phantoms because, at least on a material level, I have more possessions, more comforts, more luxuries then I will ever need and these material things don't make me happy. So I know that by analogy the others won't make me happy either. The Internet has sucked me in whole. I spend a lot of time on the computer, for work and personal use. What am I searching for? "Fans." "Friends". "Followers." Maybe lovers. How do we conceive "the Internet"? It's like this vast jungle without any demarcated boundaries. There's no organization. The closet thing to organization is a search function called Google. The millions of users, on millions of blogs, websites, Facebook, Twittter, leaving comments, making posts, adding links. I don't know where to enter. There are too many doors. Too many exits. Too many tunnels. And too many signs. I need to conduct research simply to find something I like, a group of blogs I can read regularly. It's a small miracle that people are even reading this right now, a small miracle that they have found me. Original Essay More Essays