Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Dark Path - Are Artists Egoists?

Artists walk a dark path. However, I would really like to believe that there is also a bright one.

In January I wondered whether artists are unhappy people and came to the conclusion that unhappiness is a crucial driving power behind art. Unhappiness makes an artist create art, so he can experience happiness through it. If a person is generally happy, he or she doesn't feel the need to experience happiness through anything else than life itself. And I have to admit that as a creative person I envy such people.

The problem with us creative people is that we often like to draw a line between ourselves and the rest of the world. Many of us are weird, isolated creatures who prefer some distant, non-existing dimensions to the real world where life happens. We don't accept life, and we don't accept things as they are. It hurts us when we don't get as much appreciation as we think we deserve while when we actually get appreciation it's never enough. Something is always wrong with the world: Our family is too poor, too rich, the situation in the art world is unpleasant, we are restricted by stupid laws, we aren't loved for what we want to be loved and people love things about us we don't love ourselves, the masses have a bad taste and everything is just unfair. Let's be honest, self-pity is the favourite hobby of the most of us.

Now the truth is that it is not the world which is against us - the "world" never really cared for single individuals and their petty, individualistic wishes - but it is us who are responsible for our own unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life and the world. Life isn't supposed to be lived happily. It is supposed to be just lived - whether it happens happily or not is for the individual to decide. So when we criticize life, the world or our (potential) audience it's often our own decision to be unhappy. It's our own decision to have expectations that are rather ridiculous - because it is indeed ridiculous to expect to be appreciated in the exact way we want it, to expect the masses to have a good taste or to expect society, state and economy to be always on our side. Yes, we are artists, we all have something to say, something to give, something to share ... But it doesn't automatically mean that the world owes you anything because of that. No one owes you anything. Deal with it.

It is also our own decision how to deal with our self-created unhappiness. Some artists manage to "just" be sad, some fall a victim to depression, others have a biography full of drugs and/or other addictions and thus make themselves even more unhappy. And often artists, like most unhappy people, happen to be not the most pleasant company. For one thing, someone who is disappointed because of ridiculous expectations - well, you have to be quite an egoist to think that the world owes you anything just because you exist, are talented and/or skilled. For another thing, unhappy, disappointed people often start to suffer from inferiority complexes and try to compensate them by demanding even more from the world, and so the end result is just plain arrogance.

Artists, it seems, walk a dark path: This path starts with egoistic expectations, and if the artist isn't careful, it leads to depression, arrogance and, well, maybe even suicide, depending on the artist's individual personality. Being an artist is never easy, because the path is dark from the very beginning. Some manage to stop the self-destruction at some point and find a way to live a better life and still create art. The lives of others sometimes take a tragic turn.

However, maybe I'm too pessimistic. As a matter of fact, I would really like to believe that there is a bright path for artists. It's very likely there's something I just don't see. Which alternative paths can you think of? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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